In furtherance of the Presidential Amnesty Programme for ex-agitators in Nigeria’s oil-producing communities, the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has initiated a partnership with key stakeholders to work out strategies for enduring peace in the region.
Speaking at a meeting with about 65 ex-agitators at the Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, the NDDC Managing Director, Barrister Bassey Dan-Abia, said that the quest for peace was in line with a critical component of the transformation agenda of the Federal Government, which underlines peace as a necessary condition for the success of its development programmes.
He noted that the possible development of the region could only be, if there was peace. Hence, the commission would not develop if they had to battle with kidnapping, sea piracy, pipeline vandalism and other similar vices.
He stressed that the time had come for all to sit down as one family, look inwards and open a new chapter for the development of the Niger Delta region.
Flanked by other board members, Dan-Abia applauded the ex-agitators for what he called their heroic efforts at drawing attention to the problems of the Niger Delta which informed the rapid development in the area.
The NDDC MD said that the commission had over the years been committed to so many programmes and projects, many of which were still on-going. Consequently, he said, the commission was now reviewing its strategy to ensure that on-going projects were completed on schedule as directed by President Goodluck Jonathan.
“I salute you as the leaders of the struggle and thank you for your courage and patriotism, which has drawn attention to the challenges of the region. Indeed, we at NDDC appreciate all your sacrifices that have put the Niger Delta in the front burner”, he said.
Making his contribution at the meeting, the leader of the Niger Delta Salvation Force, Asari Dokubo, noted that that the NDDC was set up basically to bring rapid development to the Niger Delta.
He stated, however, that development was not only about roads and bridges but should also take into account the building of human capacity.
Thanking the NDDC for bringing the ex-agitators together to map out plans for peace and progress, he called on the commission to strengthen its programmes for empowerment and capacity building in agriculture and skill acquisition in the technical sector.
He said: “We must develop the economic capacity of our people. We should not allow our people to be beggars in the midst of plenty. We need to produce the Dantatas and Dangotes of the Niger Delta”, he
Asari Dokubo also warned northerners who were suggesting that the NDDC should be scrapped to perish the thought, as they would not succeed.
He was apparently referring to a position paper being canvassed by some northern delegates at the on-going National Conference, calling for the scrapping of the amnesty programme, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the NDDC.
Also speaking at the meeting, the leader of the Peace and Development Initiative, Mr. Reuben Wilson, a.k.a General Pastor, assured the NDDC of the support of the former agitators, noting that the meeting was recognition of their role in the liberation of the Niger Delta.