By Abujah Racheal
Abuja – The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, has called for collaboration with the nine oil producing states, oil companies and development partners to solve challenges facing the region.
Usani made the call at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the ministry on Tuesday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was attended by officials from the Ministry of Petroleum, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCD&MB), among other stakeholders.
Usani explained that many organisations and development Partners were working in the region without fully involving the state governors.
He said that his dream was to get every relevant agency involved in the affairs of the region.
The minister said the collaboration had become imperative because of the recent activities of militant groups and other criminal elements in the region.
According to him, such activities have greatly threatened the relative peace, which had hitherto prevailed in the region.
Usani said the ministry had been saddled with the responsibility of involving policies that would ensure the development and security of the region.
“In doing this, the ministry has the mission to formulate and execute plans, programmes and other initiatives as well as coordinate the activities of other stakeholders involved in the development of the region,’’ he said
According to the minister, the region had been bedevilled by security challenges arising from gaps in job creation, poverty, hunger, environmental degradation, neglect and perceived discrimination.
“We are gathered here today to deliberate and chart a new course that will ensure relative peace.
“Government is desirous of dialogue with stakeholders on a way forward as the expectation are that the nagging security issues will be thrown up and comprehensively addressed,” the Minister said.
He disclosed that the Ministry is restructuring key departments such as Community Development and Education, Housing and Urban Development, Infrastructure Development as well as that of Economic Empowerment.
Usam, however, noted that the ministry had recorded milestones in the past in human capital development.
He said this was done in various sectors such as oil and gas, agriculture, maritime, information technology (ICT) and entertainment in addition to other infrastructural development.
“Youths, who were trained in the International Skills Acquisition Centre in Israel, have been empowered by the Bank of Agriculture in collaboration with the ministry.
“Over 260 youths from the region benefited from mobile phone assemblage in Calabar.
“Other 30 youths were trained as seafarers to bridge the skill gap in the maritime sector and were awarded with certificates of international standard.
“It might also interest you to know that the ministry has embarked on construction of Skills Acquisition Centres in the nine oil producing states.
“The major problem militating against the completion is paucity of funds,” he said
Usani said it was on that note the ministry sought collaboration with the Ministry of Petroleum, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCD&MB) with the view to developing institution of excellence in the Oil and Gas sector.
The minister disclosed that the ministry has acquired 270 hectares of land in each of the nine states to develop industrial parks.
“Many investors are interested: Industry-driven skill acquisition centres are being developed,” he said
Usani acknowledged all the state governors and their representatives for demonstrating commitment for partnership toward the development of the region.