By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja – The Federal Government is working out a comprehensive road map aimed at addressing issues of marginalisation and underdevelopment in the Niger Delta region, a presidency source disclosed on Tuesday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the road map, which would soon be unveiled, originated from the recent Niger Delta stakeholder engagements anchored by the office of the Vice President.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had asked Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to embark on visits to oil producing communities and had in the course of the interactions with stakeholders from oil-producing communities announced the Buhari presidency’s proposal for a “new vision and compact’’ that would address all lingering issues bothering on the development of the region.
The source maintained that the road map, which would sign-post the transformation of the region, comprised a diligent, new and comprehensive work plan that would address issues of marginalisation and underdevelopment in the region.
“An implementation planning meeting was held last week in the presidency where several ministers and relevant MDAs started putting draft measures that will in turn become presidential directives very soon,’’ the source added.
Another presidency source, who is privy to top level decisions taken on the subject matter, said the broad areas of initial interventions being considered in the plan include the take-off of the Maritime University, and the attendant financial grant as well as a progressive review of the entire Niger Delta Amnesty Programme.
Others are the establishment of Modular Refineries including the engagement of the illegal refiners; the continuation and revamp of the Pipeline Protection contracts; the revisit of Abandoned Projects in the region and the Clean-up of Ogoni land.
The source added that the implementation of the work plan would be anchored by the Federal Government in conjunction with the relevant state governments, development partners, the private sector and multinational organisations operating in the region, especially the IOCs.
According to the source, under the comprehensive work plan for the development of the region, the federal government has activated a process for the smooth take-off of the Maritime University, Gbaramatu.
The source disclosed that the Petroleum Trust Development Fund would serve as the lead agency in the implementation of the plan for the smooth take-off of the university.
“In this regard, the federal government is considering the release of a substantial take-off grant for the university while awaiting the conclusion of legislation on the establishment of the university by the National Assembly.’’
The source further stated that the federal government was seeking international collaboration with universities across the world for commencement of academic programmes at the university.
“The Presidency has directed Ministry of Petroleum Resources in conjunction with the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF) and other stakeholders to come up with a proposal for an effective funding model for the university.
“The Presidency has also directed the NDDC to liaise with the relevant agencies and organisations to facilitate the construction of an access road that will pass through Escravos to the university in Gbaramatu community,’’ the source added.