Niger Delta: Vote of confidence in Buhari, Akpabio

Heartened by the current fresh air in the region, leaders of Niger Delta Ethnic Nationalities Youth Forum ( NDENYF) rose and passed vote of confidence on President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister, Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, for their commitments to the peace and development of the region.

In Abuja on Thursday, the group, made up of all ethnic nationalities across the nine states of the Niger Delta Region, stated this while on a courtesy visit to the office of the Minister Niger Delta Affairs.

In a communique read on behalf of the youth group by its National President, Comrade Terry Obieh, the group said, “we acknowledge the commitment of the President in continuing with the Amnesty Programme; the ongoing works on the East-West road which we hope will be completed in 2022 and hereby pass a vote of confidence on Mr President and the Minister for their development strides in the region, since they came on board.”

“We commend the Minister, Niger Delta Affairs on the efforts of his Ministry in fixing the failed section at Mkpolu which had claimed lives and obstructed commercial activities in the area. This is a major drainage channel which today, has saved lives of the residents.”

The group thanked the current leadership of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), through the directives of Mr President, for embarking on the completion of abandoned projects in the region, saying, ” we applaud the new focus of the NDDC which is aimed at completing abandoned projects; some dating back to 14 years ago, and some which started during days of the OMPADEC, such as the completion and commissioning of the 14 storey NDDC headquarters complex, the recent commissioning of the SPU Quarters for the Nigeria Police and completion of over 77 roads in the region by the NDDC without awarding any new contract are commendable.”

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The communique noted the efforts of the President Buhari-led administration towards the Ogoni Clean- Up, stressing, “we commend the President on the Ogoni- Clean Up, while urging him to extend the exercise to other parts of the Niger Delta. We appreciate the efforts of the Minister in ensuring the provision of electricity in Ondo South with a 132 KVA substation, started by the NDDC over 12 years ago. We equally applaud the completion of the 1000 bed space hostel accommodation which will soon be commissioned at the University of Uyo by the NDDC. We urge the NDDC to look into the one at Niger Delta University.”

The Niger Delta Youths did not end their visit without placing some demands on President Buhari through the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, saying, “with the completion of the Skill Acquisition Centres by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, we call on the NDDC and the Ministry to initiate empowerment programmes for Youths and take them off the streets, noting, with the upcoming Christmas celebrations, the Youths have asked us to inform the Minister and the NDDC to initiate programmes that will empower them for a peaceful celebration.”

The group declared its support for the recently concluded forensic audit exercise into the activities of the NDDC, stating, ” we support the Forensic Audit exercise and we urge the President to make the report public inorder to expose the offenders and recover monies looted from the NDDC for further development of the region, adding, we join other voices across the region and the country to call for the constitution of the NDDC board with terms of reference.”

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According to the three page communique, ” we call for a special financing intervention for the East-West road. Information available to us is that the RCC handled the failed portions of the road. We request that Mr President directs that Julius Berger or some other competent hands take over the construction of the East-West road for the benefit of all.”

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Minister, Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, Senator Godswill Akpabio, thanked the Youths for the visit which he described as a welcome development, noting, ” instead of having divided voices in the region, the youth leaders have today decided to come together as one. This unity would have not have come at a better time than now, a period where President Muhammadu Buhari is doing a lot for the region.”

“A period where the forensic audit has exposed over 14 thousand abandoned projects scattered all over the region. This exposure shows that the incoming board of the NDDC will have to continue and complete those projects for the people to own and use them. The current government will leave behind an NDDC with new terms of reference.

“This is a period of new focus for the empowerment of the people of the region and their development. A period when Niger Delta Youths are more focused than others which has made the region to be known as the most peaceful in the country, “Akpabio stressed.

The former Senate minority leader also charged the youths of the oil producing region to continue to maintain the current peace for the speedy development of the region as planned by the Buhari- led administration, saying, ” as a government determined to take care of the future of our youths, we have put in place, Skill Acquisition Centres across the region. At the just concluded world forum in Paris, I canvassed for foreign investments in the region because of the peaceful disposition of our youths. I went there mainly to sell our potentials to the international investors and community.”

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According to Akpabio, “this is the period Nigeria is trying to diversify its economy and the people of the region should be the first to embrace it. Our youths must do everything possible to be part of this new interest. It is a region that a lot must be done because the youths need empowerment. In the past, the region was neglected by successive governments, but the current administration led by President Buhari is more than determined to make life meaningful for the people through infrastructural development and empowerment of the people.”

The minister disclosed that he was delighted to work with the youths as their Minister. “I am delighted to work with you as your Minister. We can talk to each other, in order to have a better understanding of ourselves as a people. Let there be constant communication amongst us. When we are not well informed, fake news thrive in the society.”

Akpabio reiterated the commitment of the government to the completion of the East-west road, saying “the Federal Government is not sleeping over the road. We are discussing special funding sources for the road. President Buhari wants to complete section four of the road before he leaves office. “

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