By NWADIKE UGOCHUKWU, Port Harcourt
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, has stated that the development of the Niger Delta Region remains the priority of the President Muhamadu Buhari and the APC government.
He assured the people of Niger Delta that President Buhari has repeatedly emphasis that the issue of devastation and environmental degradation in the Niger Delta Region must be attended to.
The Vice President disclosed this on the occasion of the inaugural partners for sustainable development forum held at the Atlantic hall of Presidential Hotel in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Osibanjo, speaking on the theme, “Re-strategizing Development Concepts in Niger Delta Region to provide for oil wealth socio-Economic sustainability”, said that sustainable development has, overtime, been a global challenge facing communities worldwide. He stated that governments as well as policy makers and implementers must be deliberate in their policy formulation to effectively meet the development needs of the present, without compromising the needs of the future generations.
According to Osibanjo it is very strategic, “the country’s overdependence on oil is not only the cause of downturn of the economy for now, it has been responsible for the emergence of a redundant human resources base and high level of corruption. It is also at the root of agitation for resource control, particularly from the south-south”.
The Vice President note that the forum came at the right time that there is a global decline in oil revenue, especially, in a country such as Nigeria that has total dependence on oil for survival. He noted that it is also coming at the time when the new globally adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is nearing implementation commencement.
It was acknowledged that the concept of sustainable development comes with serious challenges, especially, in the Niger Delta that represents the world third largest wetlands, with several years of un-addressed oil pollution issues that has hindered agricultural growth of the region as well as affected general health of the populace.
He said that the stakeholders must all at all levels of government and development agencies, come together as exemplified by this forum, to adopt policies related to the 17 goals of the forthcoming
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “These policies must also address the issue of diversification of the economy to achieve wealth creation” Osibanjo declared, noting that there can be no meaningful development without peace. He said part of the policies and strategies in the region and beyond must include curbing militancy, and eliminating terrorism.
The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Barrister Bassey Dan-Abia, emphasized that “… the current global focus is on sustainable development, which is, development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Dan-Abia said: “sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all, it offers a framework, to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance.”
He expressed that development is a process of partnership that depends on involvement of all development forces in the society, adding: “that is why you are here today, you are important in the actualization of these three pillars of sustainable development that is social, economic and environmental resource management process of the region.”
Calling on the community leaders, policy makers, implementing agents trusted with the responsibility of driving growth and development in this region, he said, “We need to adopt sustainable development approaches in order to secure a vintage position for our people on the global stage.”
The Managing Director of the Commission said the NDDC being the agency mandated by law to bring about the sustainable development of the region, has since inception been carried out its job amidst challenges of delayed budget approval and limited resources. He appealed that institutions, development agencies, government at all levels must come into partnership and collaboration to overcome this challenge.
By NWADIKE UGOCHUKWU, Port Harcourt