Dr. Ibe Kachikwu
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Dr. Ibe Kachikwu has lampooned the Presidential Amnesty Programme PAP of the federal government for the Niger Delta Region. He accused it of being a whitewash programme designed to cover the surface of the problem which is neglect and underdevelopment rather than solving the root problems and sustaining progress and development.
Kachikwu revealed therefore that what the Nigerian government has been doing for the past years has been to symbolically pay the militants allowance of N65,000 per month for doing nothing and for keeping quiet so that there would be peace in the region.
The Minister said it is worrisome to note that the Nigerian government has spent over $40 Billion in the past 10 years in the Niger Delta with nothing to show for it. There is nothing concrete one can point to as a substantial show of development in the region despite this colossal expenditure, insisted the minister.
Kachikwu represented by his special adviser on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Charles Achodo was speaking at the Seventh Sustainability in the Extractive (SITE) conference in Abuja. He disclosed that despite this set back the government still intends to invest N1.7 trillion in the region between now and 2021 to vigorously develop the region.
According to Kachikwu “the Niger Delta has become a cacophony of voices but without a purpose. It has become a region with a cacophony of all kinds of projects. If you look closely from the past 10 years up to $40 Billion has been made available for that region and you can never tour the Niger Delta and see N1billion or N500 Million Naira investment.
Kachikwu faulted the Presidential Amnesty Programme of the federal government insisting that it has proven not to be a solution of the region since it is not sustainable despite the huge amount of money expended on it.
He said “the Amnesty is clear, it cannot be the solution to the state of insecurity in the Niger Delta. Rather the amnesty is used to create a state of the asymmetrical environment “
“A situation whereby you are paying people N65, 000 to keep quiet that does not solve the problem. If you multiply N65, 000 by the number of militants and by the number of years the programme has been running you are looking at close to N50 Billion. That’s a huge amount of money. It is not sustainable and is not guaranteeing you what you expect in the place,” He stressed.
Kachikwu also disclosed that over $40billion has been invested in the Niger Delta for the past 10 years through various agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta, the Presidential Amnesty Programme PAP, and other government agencies.
However, noted the minister nothing concrete is on the nothing to show for the investment. According to the Minister “That amount was basically invested through the NDDC and the Ministry of Niger Delta”.
“If you check them for instances the NDDC has close to 11,000 contracts, with these contracts mostly owned and held by people from the region then you can understand that we are the ones doing ourselves in for not implementing these projects”.
“If you distribute the 11,000 thousand contracts all along you are looking at close to $40 Billion in terms of investment. If you go to the Ministry of Niger Delta it is the same thing.
Kachikwu also revealed that going forward a substantial amount of funds are earmarked for future investments and development in the region to the tune of N1.7 Trillion which covers also what the oil companies and the government are putting into the region. The proposed investment is projected to cover a period up to 2021 which is a short term investment of 3 years.