President Buhari of Nigeria has released a new package of development incentives for the Niger delta region of the country in order to bring long lasting peace and development not only to the region but to Nigeria at large.
In respect of Nigeria, peace and development in the Niger delta will give peace and progress to the nation’s revenue and economy. This is evident because the Niger delta region accounts for over 90% of all the crude oil and gas produced from Nigeria. It is also a fact that crude oil and gas account for over 90% of the nation foreign exchange earnings.
Therefore it is in Nigeria’s best interest to protect, develop and pacify the restive region so as to be guaranteed badly needed foreign exchanged through the sale of crude oil and gas.
At a meeting with the Pan Niger Delta Stakeholders at the Aso Chambers, Presidential Villa, Abuja, The president announced monumental and concrete policies and projects which will impact greatly and change the face of the Niger delta region.
The programme of change envisaged for the region consist of the renewal and re-award of existing oil pipeline protection contracts to indigenes of the Niger Delta region especially militants leaders. The funding and equipping of the proposed Maritime University of Nigeria at Okerenkoko, Gbaramatu kingdom in Delta State to enable it to start academic activities.
The conversion of illegal refineries in the Niger delta region to modular refineries through a supervised and established framework of guidelines, support, and control on their activities in the region.
Also approved for implementation in the region are sustained and vigorous cleanup activities in all seriously polluted areas of the Niger delta including the pioneer area of Ogoni land. Also envisaged is the addition of new and more ex- militants as beneficiaries in the Federal Government Amnesty programme for the Niger Delta.
To achieve the set-out plan and ensure its speedy implementation, the Niger Delta inter-ministerial group has been set up. It comprised officials from the presidency, all relevant ministries to the programmes designed for the region comprising those of Petroleum Resources, Niger Delta Affairs, Environment, Power, Works and Housing and the office of the presidential Amnesty Programme among other MDAs.
These programmes are now regarded as the new deal or vision for the development of the Niger delta region in order to guarantee peace, security, and progress in the region as well as guaranteeing peaceful operations of the oil and gas industry in the area.
It will be recalled that oil pipelines contract were hitherto handled by militants’ leaders as a source of compensating them and winning their support from the previous government. However, these contracts were revoked by the Buhari government on assumption of power against wise counsel and good reasoning. The government was to pay dearly for this action when a full-scale militants’ war was declared in the region aim at crippling oil and gas installations.
The resultant effect of these militants’ attacks was a sharp fall in the production and export of Nigerian crude oil and gas. This fall in production and export further impacted on the Nation’s economy resulting in Nigeria going into recession for the first time in over twenty years. The change in policies and tactics is, therefore, proof that the present government has realized its mistakes and is not ashamed to readdress them.
It is better late than never for the Buhari Administration that has the ignoble record of always taking the nation backward. The Government this time around is getting it right as implementing these well thought out plans will definitely bring peace and development to the restive and notorious region. This new deal or vision is better than military action he was deceived into believing. It will be far cheaper than buying of weapons and will save thousands of lives of both the Niger deltas militants and the Nigerian soldiers who would have otherwise perished in a senseless war.