President Muhammadu Buhari has charged traditional rulers and stakeholders of the Niger Delta to find a lasting solution to the incidents of pipeline vandalism and general insecurity in the region.
Speaking at a meeting between the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and executive of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities (TROMCON) in Port Harcourt, on Saturday, the commission’s Acting Managing Director/CEO, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, said President Buhari “has directed that the NDDC quickly intervene and explore every avenue that will help bring back peace and stability” to the Niger Delta.
“This marching order entails that we must immediately swing into action; consulting and negotiating where necessary to ensure there are no further acts of vandalism and criminality in the region,” the NDDC boss said.
Mrs, Semenitari appealed to the traditional rulers, led by Eze Akuwueze Ikegwuruka, the paramount ruler of Ngbirichi in Imo State and the National Chairman of TROMPCON, to engage in serious sensitization of their subjects against oil theft, vandalism and other acts that could cause a breach of security.
“This has become even more critical,” she added, “in view of the dwindling oil revenue and serious economic challenges facing the nation. It, therefore, becomes extremely expedient for us as a people, and as a region, to ensure that our collective wealth and heritage are not further dissipated, and our well-being compromised.”
She enjoined the royal fathers to engage in five critical areas: curtailing interruptions and community disturbances, engaging and building the culture of community participation in project cycle and project ownership, accelerating efforts to build suitable relationships between contractors and community youths, building a stronger network with security agencies and relevant government institutions to mitigate challenges, and continuing to build peace and understanding among the people.
Mrs. Semenitari promised to support TROMPCON, as critical partners, in its activities and in the commission’s efforts to facilitate the sustainable development of the Niger Delta.
Responding, the National Chairman of TROMPCON, assured Semenitari that the traditional rulers in the region were ready for partnership and collaboration with the NDDC. He said: “TROMPCON has longed to join hands with the NDDC and other development agencies.” He also reaffirmed their stake in the affairs of the Niger Delta.
“It is the view of TROMPCOM that all stakeholders as well as service providers should collaborate to ensure coordinated and accelerated development of the Niger Delta region. This imperative has been underscored in the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan which provided for Partners for Sustainable Development (PSD) Forum.”
He said that TROMPCON would do whatever was necessary to ensure the maintenance of peace and provide the conducive environment for the NDDC and other agencies of development, including contractors.
He further said that the royal fathers would visit the National Assembly to discuss the NDDC budget and rub minds with them to see how to provide more employment opportunities and avoid a situation where contracts were hijacked to the detriment of the people of the Niger Delta.
Eze Ikegwuruka called attention to the fact that TROMPCON was currently in court with the Federal Government to press home the demand for proper funding of the NDDC in line with the commission’s enabling law.