ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – Former militant and leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF), Mujahid Asari-Dokubo, has commended President Bola Tinubu for reinstating the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, describing it as one of the best things to happen to the South South geo-political zone.
According to him, among all attempts to address the agitation of the Niger Delta, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is the direct attempt, and therefore plays a vital role in coordinating and implementing programs and initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable development, peace, and stability in the oil-rich region.
The MNDA was not among the ministries allocated to the newly appointed ministers and raised concerns among leaders, the intelligentsia and stakeholders of the oil-rich Niger Delta, fuelling speculations that it may have been scrapped by the President.
But President Tinubu redeployed Abubakar Momoh from the Ministry of Youth and reassigned him to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs
Asari-Dokubo in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday made available to Sundiata Post, pleaded that President Tinubu should consider returning the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) back to the nomenclature of Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC).
He said, “Mr. President, I am grateful and wish to commend your decision to reinstate the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. This decision shows your determination, reflects your deep understanding of the challenges and unique needs of the Niger Delta region, and demonstrates your commitment to addressing them.
“Despite all attempts to address the agitation of the Niger Delta, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is the direct attempt, and therefore plays a vital role in coordinating and implementing programs and initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable development, peace, and stability in the oil-rich region. With its reinstatement, there is renewed hope for the people of the Niger Delta that their concerns will be effectively addressed and their voices heard in your administration.
“Several attempts have been made to ameliorate and address the agitation of the Niger Delta people including the setting up of the Niger Delta Area Development Authority, and the establishment of OMPADEC in 1992.
“In 2000, OMPADEC was changed to NDDC. Mr. President, I know you are aware that OMPADEC was established to rehabilitate and develop the oil mineral producing areas of Nigeria which had been subjected to the devastating effects of ecological destruction and environmental pollution. This means that oil-producing areas that are not geographically in the Niger Delta, are captured in the OMPADEC programs.
“The change of nomenclature from OMPADEC to NDDC suggested that the commission was established to address the agitation of only oil-producing areas in the Niger Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers State.
“Mr. President, I beg you to consider returning NDDC to OMPADEC nomenclature, with its core mandate of addressing issues of rehabilitating and developing the Oil Producing Areas of Nigeria, including Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo, Kogi, Rivers and any other area blessed with oil mineral.”
The activist said the history, struggle, and agitation of the Niger Delta have been rough and tough, from colonial times, to independent and post-independent era.
He said, “The colonial governments ignored the agitation of the Niger Delta people. They cruelly suppressed it by the treatment meted to King Jaja of Opopo, King Ibani Chuka of Okrika, Chief Ukwujiagu of Okujiagu-Ama of Okrika, King KokoBoy Ockiya of Nembe, Chief Anya’a Amatoru Goodhead, the paramount head of the Goodhead Tariah Group of Houses of Kalabari, Nana of Itsekiri, and several Kings of Bonny, among others.
“The agitation necessitated the setting up of the Willink’s Commission in 1957 to look into the fears and agitations of the minorities of colonial Nigeria. After a thorough investigation, a White-Paper declared the Ijaw areas of the Eastern and Western regions and the Ogoni territories in the Eastern region, as special and endangered territories and people.”
Dokubo-Asari argued that NDDC was not exclusively established to mitigate only the interest oil producing areas of the Niger Delta, as many erroneously think.
“From the foregoing, it is clear that NDDC has no relation with the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. Oil-producing areas should be treated on their merit, while the Niger Delta areas of Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, and Akwa Ibom states should be treated solely as Niger Delta from a geographic and scientific point of view.
“Your restoration of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has shown that you are a listening and caring leader and President. The Niger Delta will not forget this singular action, and we will pay back in multiple folds”, he said.