Determined to address the challenges posed by the multiplicity of development actors and partners which oftent resulted in duplication of projects and programmes in the region, the Council on Niger Delta has been established with a view to coordinate and fast track the development of the region. The Council will strive to, among other things, enhance information sharing and exchange of ideas among stakeholders; promote greater co-operation and mutual support; enhance synergy in service delivery; eliminate duplication of projects; wastage of scarce resources and build consensus on initiatives and development activities in the Niger Delta.
The Council was established during a three-day retreat organized by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, to review the draft on Niger Delta Action Plan with the aim of ensuring that it encapsulates actions critical to the development challenges facing the Niger Delta. The retreat was attended by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, Minister of State, Hajia Zainab Ibrahim Kuchi and management staff of the ministry.
Orubebe, who declared the retreat open, disclosed that the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs was created in 2008 with the mandate to formulate and implement policies, projects and programmes and coordinate development activities in the Niger Delta. He said the ministry on commencement of effective operation in 2009, held preliminary consultations with the UNDP for a joint Technical Working Group to articulate a collaborative development framework for the Niger Delta.
The group comprised officials of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and representatives of Development Partners, including UNDP, World Bank, USAID, EU, DFID and PIND as well as the Embassy of The Netherlands.
The efforts of the group culminated in the delivery of the Niger Delta Collaborative Development Framework, which articulates and spells out the future intervention measures for the Niger Delta in consonance with the Niger Delta Master Plan and Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020. The framework which has now been developed into the Draft Niger Delta Action Plan is a comprehensive and coherent programme of investment in the social and public sectors.
Orubebe said the essence of the Action Plan was to bring together all international development partners, donor agencies and stakeholders operating in the Niger Delta in formulating common development framework funded through a common basket of resources for the development of the region. He added that the second important issue addressed in the retreat was the establishment of the Council on Niger Delta, observing that the Ministry will soon constitute and convene the first meeting of the Council.
Orubebe said: “For some time now, a lot of heat has been generated on the issue of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). The Ministry believes strongly that this has implications for its mandate especially the Niger Delta Collaborative Development Framework. It is therefore, imperative for the Ministry to contribute to the ongoing discourse on the bill.” He therefore called on members of the National Assembly to conscientiously ensure that the observations raised at the retreat were noted as part of their contributions during debates at the chambers.
Federal Government establishes Council on Niger Delta