Buhari, Momoh urge N’Delta to embrace peace



• President assures on development
• FG needs to pay NDDC N750b debt, says Alaibe 

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has urged the people of the Niger Delta to embrace peace in order for accelerated development to be carried out in the region like in other parts of the country.

The President, who was represented by Ikechukwu Emenike, made the call yesterday in Abuja at a talkshop organised by Change Ambassadors of Nigeria, an initiative of Gatekeepers Foundation, on “President Muhammadu Buhari and the Niger Delta Struggle for Development.

The chairman of the occasion, Prince Tony Momoh, implored the people of Niger Delta, who thronged the venue of the event to embrace peace in support of the Buhari-led administration.

On his part, a former chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe, said the Federal Government has to pay an accumulated debt of N750 billion to the agency, for enhanced development.

According to Buhari, no region in Nigeria is more relevant in his administration as contained in his inaugural speech, where he assured that he would invest heavily in the region, but only in an atmosphere of peace.

“The message is that I am part of you and will want to develop the area but need your cooperation. ‘‘As I have promised, I will not only tackle the problem of Boko Haram but that of Niger Delta.

I also promised that money will be judiciously used for development. “Because of the perception of lack of peace, even the experts we need to speed up development will avoid the region,” he noted.

Earlier in his presentation, Alaibe who was also the guest speaker said development is the major component of the Niger Delta struggle as such the people of the area “cannot wait and cannot be kept waiting any longer.”

Alaibe, who noted that the Buhari-led government will develop the Niger Delta, also said: “Much of the funding can be sourced from the statutory contributions being owed NDDC by the Federal Government from Obasanjo’s administration through to Jonathan. “That debt is reported to now stand at over N750 billion.

Also, as originally proposed by the late President Yar ‘Adua, a special fund should be earmarked and ring-fenced to undertake these interventions and to minimise incapacitating bureaucratic delays.”

Alaibe further urged the Buhari administration to quickly identify all on-going, abandoned and newly awarded Federal Government projects in the region and put on a fast-track completion plan, even if that requires setting aside extra funds.

Other development initiatives, Alaibe outlined for the Buhari administration for the region include a Midterm Review/Infrastructural Component of the Niger Delta Regional Development Master plan (NDRDMP) and the Niger Delta Technical Committee Report (NDTCR), speeding up ongoing work at the East-West road, sustenance of the Amnesty Programme and as well collaboration with state governments to expand selected cities to serve as major growth poles in the region.

The former NDDC chairman also called for effective participation in national economy, especially in the sectors that are based on the region’s endowments such as maritime, marine and petroleum sectors.

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