The Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, has appealed to militants to stop destroying oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta.
Senator Ndoma-Egba made the plea during a courtesy visit by the Cross River State University of Technology (CRUTECH) Alumni Association at the NDDC Headquarters in Port Harcourt.
He appealed to all aggrieved people in the region to call a truce because “we are in urgent need of development in the region and it is only in an atmosphere of peace that we can develop.”
Senator Ndoma-Egba stressed that the issues of poverty and restiveness could only be addressed when development was allowed to thrive, noting: “We cannot develop in an environment of militancy.”
He said that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had shown good faith by increasing the financial allocations to the development agencies in the Niger Delta region.
President Buhari has demonstrated goodwill in some of the steps he has taken, he stated, adding: “If you look at the 2016 budget, there is a marginal increase in everything concerning the region. Allocation to Niger Delta Ministry went up, the budget of the NDDC went up, and the budget of the Amnesty Program went up.
Now, something is being done with some urgency on the completion of the East-West Road. We have the Lagos-Calabar rail line and recently the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osibanjo visited Delta State and gave very firm assurances that the problems of the region will be addressed urgently.”
The NDDC Chairman said that the least the people of the region could do was to reciprocate and show good faith by halting the breaches in oil and gas infrastructure, lamenting that such criminal activities were detrimental to the interest of the region, as they were more like “shooting ourselves in the feet.”
Senator Ndoma-Egba acknowledged the importance of education in changing the mind-set of the youths who were sometimes prone to restiveness. He said: “The real resources of a nation are its youths. But the youths remain a resource only if they are educated and skilled to be empowered. If the youths are not educated, skilled and empowered, it becomes a challenge.”
He said that it was, therefore, necessary to get the youths empowered through education, which was what CRUTECH and other institutions were doing. He added: “One of the mandates of the NDDC is to create a regional economy, a proper economy in a secure and peaceful environment. And to advance that mandate, this Commission will continue to support tertiary institutions in the zone.
“I want to say that this Commission under my leadership will be committed to education in the Niger Delta, so that the youths of the region will be the resource that the nation will depend on.”
The President of the CRUTECH Alumni Association, Mr Eyam Abang, told the NDDC Chairman that the university was a project of the people and government of Cross Rivers State, adding that he was one of the founding fathers of the institution that had produced men and women who were competing and contributing significantly to the social-economic development of the country.
He identified some of the challenges facing the university, especially in the area of infrastructure, and appealed for support for its plans to contribute in addressing the challenges. In this regard, he said that the alumni were in the process of building a 500-seat auditorium to help in resolving infrastructural inadequacies in the university.
Mr Abang said that the high capacity auditorium would include a conference hall, an IT center, indoor sports hall, among other facilities. According to him, the association was eager to bridge the gap and take students attention away from vices like cultism, prostitution and vandalism.
In another courtesy visit to the NDDC Chairman, members of the National Association of Cross Rivers State Indigenes in Diaspora, Port Harcourt Chapter, sought the assistance of the Commission to further advance the course of development.
The Chairman of the association, Mr Jacob Iwara, said that the 1,200-member group was interested in helping to sow the seeds of growth in the society. “We seek to provide help and foster unity among our members,” he said, and appealed for assistance from the NDDC.
He stated that the association had been able to empower some of its members in vocational training and wished it could do more if it had the financial resources.
Senator Ndoma-Egba remarked that it was important for an interest group to identify and focus its energy towards a common cause, adding that the association should strive to be good ambassadors of Cross Rivers State wherever the members found themselves.
He assured them that the NDDC would continue to support programmes that would empower the youths of the country, including members of the association.