The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has said that the success of development agencies in the Niger Delta region depended on the collaboration of critical stakeholders.
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry,Mrs. Belema Wakama, stated this yesterdayat the meeting of the Partners For Sustainable Development (PSD)Forum hosted by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, in Port Harcourt.
Mrs. Wakama underlined the development paradox of endemic poverty in the region, despite its abundant resources, in a paper presented on her behalf by the Director of Research in the ministry, Mrs. Didi Walson-Jack.
The Permanent Secretary explained thatthe ministry had the responsibility of coordinating the development plans for the region, which were being implemented through the Niger Delta Action plan, noting that the plan was embedded in existing strategies for the development of the region.
She called attention to the provision for a Multi-Stakeholder Trust Fund, which entailed the mobilization of a pool of funds from donor agencies, oil companies and other development partners to drive development. She added that “the development funding instrument envisaged a trust fund of 200 million US dollars to serve as additional funding for high impact activities in the region.”
Mrs. Wakama said that the trust fund would be an initial funding tranche that would lead to larger and more sustained investments.
Welcoming stakeholders to the PSD Forum, the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, stated that the meeting, which was a direct product of the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan, was a platform for collaboration amongst the development stakeholders of the Niger Delta region.
“The key objective of the PSD,” she said,“is to provide a clearing-house of information for stakeholders during project planning, budgeting and implementation strategies, to ensure that stakeholders are aware of what others are doing and planning to do. It also affords stakeholders the opportunity to devolve development functions and avoid duplication of efforts and waste of scarce resources.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that the main objective of the forum was to jump-start a platform for effective collaboration amongst the multiplicity of stakeholders in the development of Niger Delta region. “Although the PSD forum has been meeting sparingly since December 2004, we cannot report much success in the areas of public-public or public-private partnerships,” she added.
Mrs. Semenitari said that the forum was an opportunity for the partners to look at various challenges plaguing the Niger Delta Region and proffer the way forward. For example, she stated, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs would discuss its intervention strategy in the region and the security the situation in the region would be reviewed.
She said: “We shall listen to other presentations on livelihoods; Partnerships/ Partnering; Driving investments in the Region; the Role of the Civil Society in Development. The goal is to bring all partners to speed on the challenges and opportunities inherent in the Region.”
“The importance of this Forum in the Development of our Niger Delta Region cannot be over emphasized, especially at this auspicious time when the country is relying on major actors in the Niger Delta to come together and address the development challenges facing the region.”
The National Chairman of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities, TROMCON, Eze Akuwueze Ikegwuruka, appealed to the Federal Government to engage its members in finding solutions to the security challenges in the Niger Delta region.
Eze Ikegwuruka, who is the paramount ruler of Ngbirichi in Imo State, said that the entire membership of TROMPCON, welcomed the Federal Government’s initiative to dialogue with various militant groups in the region.
He said that TROMPCON’s position as a pivot of oil mineral dialogue and other salient environmental issues in the Niger Delta region could not be over emphasized. He enjoined all relevant stakeholders to effectively participate to address the peculiar and perennial challenges that stared Niger Deltans .in the face.
The royal father charged the Federal Government, Oil Companies and other contributors to the NDDC funds to religiously make their statutory contributions to the funding of the Commission, noting that it was when this was done that they could hold NDDC accountable to the development of the region.
Eze Ikegwuruka said that the resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta was taking a big toll on the National Economy. Whether the reasons were political, environmental or otherwise, the actions of the militants were condemnable as the effects were colossal.
He said that the royal fathers, as the principal security officers and custodians of their various kingdoms would do all that was necessary to ensure that sanity returns to the region.