Patrick Okigbo III shows how to bring back fleeing wealth of the Niger Delta

Written by silvernewsng

Attention at Niger Delta Stakeholders Forum

Patrick Okigbo is the founder and principal partner at Nextier in Abuja, an advisory firm with a focus on energy and other public policy issues.

By Ignatius Chukwu
At a time the Niger Delta people are searching for workable methods to recreate the oil region, a prominent economist and one helping the nation to fight bad economy has given a hint.
Okigbo, a foremost economist and member of the Presidential Economic Committee, gave hints on how the Niger Delta people can win back fleeing investors especially the international oil companies (IOCs) as well as convince those owing them to pay back faster.

Okigbo spoke as lead presenter at the technical session of the Day One of the Niger Delta Stakeholders Forum organized by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Port Harcourt starting Wednesday, July 10, 2024.
Speaking on the seven pillars of development, the PEC member advised the oil region to quickly put violent agitation behind them and develop an engagement strategy that with give-and-take approach so that development partners would be less nervous.

He said with peace in place, the next frontier would be to demonstrate competent deployment of resources so far given to the region through various agencies and states and Local councils of the region.
This, he said, would create investor-confidence that would make the region an attractive zone and make funders very eager to dispense. The summary, he said, is the combination of security, peace, stability, and equitable appropriation of funds coming to the region.

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu, whose presentation was read by Mrs Grace Ihuoma Osareti, harped on both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches to security to turn the oil region to an attractive investment zone.
He said that the Niger Delta must be clearly captured as a national security priority in the vision of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his Renewed Hope Agenda, in a more active and determined way.

Ribadu said that within the President’s broader and long-term national Security vision included moving internal security from kinetic to non-kinetic operations, noting that his office would emphasise security from human and socio-economic development point of view to deepen democratic culture in the Niger Delta.

Ribadu said further: ‘In view of the above two central ideas, I am determined to set up, for the first time in the ONSA, a Directorate that shall specialize in security of the Niger Delta through which we can, as Stakeholders, take a critical look at the peculiar security challenges of the region in a focused and professional way.

“Accordingly, my team on Niger Delta (led by my Special Adviser on Energy Security and Niger Delta Affairs) is currently working closely with the governors of the region and the Presidency. They will eventually include all stakeholders of the region such as community leaders, traditional rulers, women, youth and students, government security agencies, federal government agencies relevant to the region, as well as businesses, civil society organisations, peoples’ organizations and the media.”

Giving a clue to the emerging policy on the Niger Delta, he added: “The president recognizes that Niger Delta region provides an estimated 75% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings. Also evident is that most of Nigeria’s maritime domain and international coastline outside of Lagos, all of which are within the Gulf of Guinea, are in the coast of Niger Delta and this region is critical to the development of Nigeria blue economy.”

The NDDC leadership seemed to agree with the top presenters’ positions and urged the people to rally round the Commission to achieve the feats.
In his welcome address, the chairman of the governing board of the Commission, Barr Chiedu Ebie, charged leaders and key stakeholders from various sectors and ethnic nationalities to collaborate for the development of the Niger Delta region.

Ebie stated that it was important to agree on implementation strategies for sustainable development of the region, in line with the theme of the conference: “Renewed Hope for the Sustainable Development of the Niger Delta.”

He said: “This Summit is more than a conference; it is a call to action. Let us embrace this task with the seriousness, creativity, and unity it demands. Together, we can create meaningful and lasting change for the Niger Delta and chart the course towards a revitalised region that fulfils its immense potential.”

The chairman said that the gathering marked a crucial step in addressing enduring challenges of the Niger Delta as a step towards positioning the region towards development that is sustainable.

He declared: “We are dedicated to setting the region on a path of sustainability and growth. By fostering comprehensive engagement, we will accurately identify key issues and craft solutions that reflect the true needs and realities of the region’s people.

Also speaking, the NDDC Managing Director, Samuel Ogbuku, assured that the Commission would continue to focus on completing capital projects that would add value to the Niger Delta region. He noted: “Our commitment is to work together towards transforming the region, in line with the 8-Point Presidential Priorities, as well as in accordance with the demands of the NDDC Act of 2000.

“We have no intention of clashing with or competing with state governors in the region. Instead, we aim to collaborate as development partners to facilitate the rapid progress of the Niger Delta region.”
Ogbuku stated that President Tinubu had charged the NDDC to complete and commission signature projects that would impact the lives of Niger Deltans. Following this directive, he said, the Commission recently inaugurated five flagship projects covering roads, bridges and electricity, across the region.

In his remarks, Sen. Emmanuel Ibokessien, the national chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF), stressed the need for the NDDC to be adequately funded, noting: “You cannot establish an agency and fail to adequately fund it while expecting it to fulfill its mandate. I urge our royal fathers to kindly appeal to Mr. President for the prompt release of the over two trillion arrears owed to the NDDC.”

He added: “I believe that the intervention of our royal fathers can play a pivotal role in advocating for the release of the funds owed the NDDC and facilitate constructive dialogue among relevant stakeholders.”

The President of the Ijaw Youth Council, Jonathan Lopkobiri, also appealed to President Tinubu to show more urgent commitment towards the development of the Niger Delta. He said: “Today, we are facing one of the most severe crises in the Niger Delta region; the state of the East-West Road. We urgently call for a genuine commitment to repair this vital infrastructure.”
The summit seemed well accepted and most speakers profusely thanked the NDDC leadership for creating such a platform. Many suggestions have already started gushing out for the management to pick from.

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