Okowa urges militants to explore dialogue, NDDC flays states
Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has called on those behind the group, New Delta Avengers, to follow the rules of dialogue rather than resorting to threats in resolving issues.
The governor, who was reacting to a publication by the group threatening bloodbath in the creeks of the Niger Delta, stated that it was unfortunate that at a time when everything was being done through due process in a democratic atmosphere, some persons were still resorting to threats as the best ways of achieving desired results.
Okowa, who briefed the press yesterday in Asaba through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said: “At the moment, the governor is interfacing with the people of the state by holding a town hall meeting after the commissioning and inspection of projects in each of the 25 local councils of the state, where the people are given free latitude to bear their minds to speak up about what they want the government to do and what they believe that government may not have done satisfactorily.
“If indeed this new group is desirous of having government develop the creeks and desirous of having us live in peace, they cannot be talking about bloodbath because bloodbath will affect most likely those who live in that environment much more than anyone else.
“If indeed their desire is for the development of the creeks, we cannot take actions that is capable of further polluting the creeks, if indeed their action is to bring prosperity to the people of the oil bearing communities. You cannot go and destroy the infrastructure that will bring dividends of democracy to our brothers and sisters who live in these areas.
While stating that his administration was working without preference to any special group, Okowa said that based on the recession that hit the country, there was no way allocation to DESOPADEC would not be affected because salaries of workers and the stability of the state are equally important.
Meanwhile, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Managing Director, Nsima Ekere, has accused governments of oil producing states of rebuffing the developmental strategy encapsulated in the regional master-plan.
Ekere stated this yesterday when the United States (U.S.) Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, visited him at the NDDC Headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
He said that the Niger Delta regional master plan, which was designed to drive the systematic and structured development of the oil producing areas, had been distorted over the years.
He also stated that the state governments had been unwilling to be part of any holistic developmental agenda designed by the commission. Ekere, who emphasised the need to review the Niger Delta regional master-plan to reflect current realities; create a sustainable development model that will take away young men from militancy and in turn create conductive environment for industry and trade to thrive, noted that the international oil firms are presently responsible for 80 per cent of the commission’s funding.”
He appealed to the U.S. to assist the commission to enhance security in the Niger Delta, institutional strengthening, capacity-building and to develop a professional workforce.
But Symington, who said the U.S. remains committed to ensuring the country’s stability, said that successful Nigeria remains crucial not only to the people of Africa, but the entire world.
He, therefore, lauded the NDDC management and promised that his home-country would continue to collaborate with the agency to drive development of the region.