The Honourable of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio in a tete – a-tete with the Minister of Information and Culture (FMIC), Lai Mohammed during the Town Hall Meeting
By Ignatius Ushie
In it’s bid to maintain peace and sustain development in the Niger Delta and to curb vandalisation of critical infrastructure in the region. The Honourable Minister, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio has reiterated the efforts of the Federal Government to addressing the vandalization of critical oil and gas infrastructure in order to stabilize and promote socio-economic development and well-being of the Niger Delta region. This was contained in a statement made available to Transport Day in Abuja
Akpabio stated this at the Town Hall meeting organized by the Ministry of Information and Culture with theme “Protecting Oil and Gas Infrastructure” held in Abuja.
According to him “the most destructive impact of the agitations in the Niger Delta region are the activities of vandals who disguise themselves as agitators and wantonly destroy critical oil and gas infrastructure thereby disrupting oil and gas production in the region. The effect of this on the economy of the Nation cannot be over-emphasized” adding that oil flow stations and pipeline destruction has resulted in damaged environment, polluted land and the communities are subjected to more hardship since the economy of the people are basically agrarian farmers and fishermen.
On the issue of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Senator Akpabio posited that the “journey of a thousand mile begin with a step and not about three and five per cent that is being deliberated on by both the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively but by the passage of the Bill before the close of July ending. The PIB bill has been in the pipeline since 2010 and lasted for too long a time. I appeal to the Senate to pass the Bill so that sufferings of the people can be alleviated”. Akpabio mentioned that the Federal Government recently launched a $1bn clean-up for some parts of the region, most prominent of this, is the Ogoni Clean-up, and the estimated clean-up and total restoration time for the swamps, creeks, fishing grounds and mangroves is about 25 years, adding that the situation had remained a no-win situation for the Federal Government, the oil companies and the people of the Niger Delta whose environment has been destroyed.
The Minister stated that there have been several programmes and initiatives aimed at addressing youth restiveness and bringing development to the region. Some of these include and not limited to establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the defunct Oil Mineral and Producing Area Development Commission (OMPADEC), the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
He said that the Ministry has also made concerted efforts toward ensuring attitudinal change amongst the youths through intensive and consistent values reorientation, advocacy programmes, which has made significant impact in the reduction of pipeline vandalization since the inception of the administration.
The Minister asserted that the Ministry is at the process of developing a reorientation programme targeted at Primary and Secondary School Pupils in each of the Nine States of the region with the aim of developing right orientation within them and ultimately leading to the desired peace and progress in the region
“The project is a broad based approach that will guarantee lasting peace, accelerated progress and development to the Niger Delta region through an active orientation of the youth’s approach”, he said.
Earl’sr the Minister, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture (FMIC) and the convener of the Town Hall Meeting, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in his welcome address, explained that the Town Hall meeting is the 20th edition in the series of such meetings which started on April 23, 2016, adding that it “provides a platform for the Federal Government to regularly give account of its stewardship to the people and get their feedback with a view to enhancing citizens participation in governance”.
Lai Mohammed stated that according to statistics, between January 2019-September 2020, 1,161 pipeline points across the country were vandalized maintaining that the Town Hall meeting in protecting oil and gas infrastructure is very important considering that destruction of oil and gas infrastructure has serious socio-economic and environmental implication on Nigeria.
Speaking further, the Minister, FMIC stated that the objective of the Town Hall meeting on protecting oil and gas infrastructure include creating in the minds of public that government property are indeed citizens property and so must be protected for the benefit of all.