The Federal Government thursday revealed that it was on the verge of concluding work within the next four weeks on the new blueprint designed to develop and end militancy in the Niger Delta region.
The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Mr. Paul Boroh, stated this while speaking at a meeting between the Inter-Agency Committee on the Niger Delta and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) in Abuja.
Boroh explained that far-reaching consultations were ongoing with the governors of the states in the region and other stakeholders, adding that the consultations would have to be concluded before the blueprint could be released.
“We are here discussing critical issues concerning the Niger Delta region and all we want to achieve is to come up with a working plan like a masterpiece developmental plan for the Niger Delta region.
“This plan would be inclusive of peace, security, stability and development. The plan is ongoing, it is a process that is ongoing and within the next four weeks or thereabout, the blueprint would be out for public consumption,” said Boroh at the meeting held in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, in his remarks, also confirmed that the team working on the blueprint was busy with the task given to them.
He expressed hope that within the next couple of weeks, the team would come out with a clearly defined roadmap to end militancy in the Niger Delta region and usher in the beginning of concerted development of the region.
Kachikwu explained that the blueprint would encompass the feedback garnered more by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo during his tour and consultative meetings with oil producing states in the region.
The minister who was represented by his Special Adviser on the Niger Delta, Mr. Charles Achodo, stated that changing the narrative of the oil-rich region from militancy to development was a critical challenge.
He noted that the government had taken up the challenge, together with all the heads of the agencies and Ministers of the Niger Delta, Environment, Petroleum Resources, and Power, Works and Housing.
Kachikwu further noted that the focus of the committee was on developmental issues and challenges of the region, such as environmental degradation, infrastructure deficit, unemployment and militancy.
But as the government unfolded the ongoing work on the blueprint for the Niger Delta, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara warned yesterday that the planned relocation of Anglo-Dutch oil multinational, Shell, from the Niger Delta region could lead to violence and insecurity.
Dogara made the remark during the inauguration of the ad hoc committee to investigate the planned relocation of Shell from Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The House on January 26 had adopted a motion sponsored by Hon. Kingsley Chinda (Rivers PDP) to set up an ad hoc committee to prevail on Shell’s purported relocation from Port Harcourt on account of rising insecurity, among other issues.
Dogara, who was represented at the inauguration by the House Deputy Majority Whip, Pally Iriase (Edo APC), said improved relations between the federal government and the Niger Delta region were crucial to addressing some of the economic challenges confronting the country.
The Chairman of the ad hoc committee, Hon. Ishiaka Ibrahim, (Ogun, APC) said the committee would meet with all the relevant stakeholders to address the issue.
He said: “We shall engage all relevant stakeholders in order to come up with a report and recommendations that would stand the test of time. We shall also consider all factors surrounding the conception of the decision of Shell’s planned relocation from Port Harcourt.”
However, in reaction to the misconception in the House, Shell said yesterday that it has no intention of relocating its headquarters from the Niger Delta.
An official of Shell told an online news medium, The Cable, that the company has no plans to “relocate its headquarters”.
During his tour of the region, Osinbajo had asked the international oil companies to move their headquarters to the Niger Delta.
“This has nothing to do with SPDC since we are already headquartered in Port Harcourt and have always been,” the official said.