DISCUSSANTS at the just concluded Delta Online Publishers Forum (DOPF), 2021 Annual Lecture, have said the situation where people from the Niger Delta region do not participate in the oil and gas business is unacceptable.
At the lecture held on Thursday in Asaba with the theme, “Niger Delta Economy: Building A New Face For The Region” delivered by Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, immediate past governor of Delta State, a renowned activist, Ms Annkio Briggs, observed that the region is geographically positioned and endowed with human capital resources.
“When you talked about human capital resources, we have it, when you talk about the geographic location, we have it. Niger Delta as you Know it, the people, the ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta have no business with poverty.
“If today, after the struggle that we have put in if we find ourselves in a position today, where we are sitting down to discuss the way forward and we are talking about the basis how to get oil investment, how will our people invest when our people are not even participants in the economy that is generated. The people controlling the oil and gas privately are outside the government”.
She added that the region equally have about 20 billion out of the 66 billion barrel of oil enjoyed by the country from the area.
Also, Ms Faith Nwadishi, said when we talked about the Niger Delta with a new face, “we need to talk about a framework for implementation. We have so long talked about the oil and gas in the Niger Delta but we have not realized that though we have an oil and gas sector in the Niger Delta, we don’t have an oil and gas economy.
“There is no community you will go to and see striving oil and gas business.”
She disclosed that if in 1956, about 5, 000 barrel of oil was exported and today over 1.2 million barrel of oil per day and that is yet to translate to the economy that the region is looking for, “there is an indictment on all of us.”
Another discussant, Dr. Ignatius Nwanze Ezoem, former Provost, College of Education (Technical), Asaba, ascribed the sufferings of the Niger Delta people to politicians.
“The problem of the Niger Delta, is not what is going to be said. What has been said we ought to work with it.
“The Niger Delta region, is a blessed region by God but today, we are still discussing about the Niger Delta.
“I am worried because the Niger Delta that we are talking about, has all it takes to be the Los Angeles of Nigeria”.
He noted that the Nigeria factor gives emphasis to theory than practicals just as he called on the Niger Delta governors to put on their thinking caps rather than go to Abuja, to beg for what rightfully belongs to the region.
Similarly, Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, pointed out that it was difficult for government at all levels to employ into the civil service, hence the Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa-led government, has diversified into skills acquisition for youths which according to him has yielded the needed results.
“It is not the responsibility of government to set up a tomato factory, it is the responsibility of the private sector to see the opportunity to set up a tomato factory, “government gives the enabling environment for business to strive”.
He said it is out of irresponsibility for anyone to tag Delta State a red zone.
“Delta State is about the safest state to live in, in Nigeria, today. Delta is a free zone”, he stated.
He pointed out that the Colonial masters caused the agitations in the Niger Delta region, saying, “They abandoned us, took our wealth away but when our boys started going to school and understanding the intricacies of the Nigerian State that we have been pushed against the wall. These boys are merely trying to resist and the role of leadership is to talk them down not to resist”.
He called on the federal government to do the needful by way of relocating the Nigerian Navy to where it originally ought to be instead of siting it in Kano where there is no water.
“Let the federal government of Nigeria, do the needful. They carried the Nigerian Navy to Kano where there is no water. To start with, remove that Naval school from Kano back to where Navy should be in the Niger Delta area. There is no technology that drives ship on land”, he said.