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Niger Delta Ministry seeks alternative revenue sources for the region

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-Oru Leonard

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani has disclosed that he was proposing a meeting with stakeholders from the nine Niger Delta States and Enugu State Government, to seek ways of moving the region away
from over dependent on oil revenues, saying there were other resources lying untapped in the region and Enugu State. He added that the proposed meeting would be held on 23rd of March, 2017.

“The inclusion of Enugu State is in recognition of the vast cashew plantation it is endowed with; the meeting will also be an avenue to encourage artisanship in the region,” the Minister added.

Usani made this revelation while speaking at a meeting with the Ambassadors of the European Union at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherland in Abuja,on Thursday. The meeting was called by the European Union to enable
the Minister brief the international community on the activities of the Ministry in curbing the prevailing socio-economic challenges in the Niger Delta region.

The Minister noted that the main responsibility of his Ministry was to formulate policy for the development of Niger Delta region and that in November 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari has saddled the Ministry with the supervisory role for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), so as to give room for efficiency in utilizing government resources. He stressed that the intention of Mr. President was for the Ministry to ensure that NDDC gear its programmes in line with the focus of the present administration.

Pastor Usani reiterated that all projects that have been awarded and carried out by the Commission will be subjected to technical audit and status verification, to justify expenditure

He said that in a bid to ascertain value for money for the projects executed by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs since inception, he had to set up an independent audit committee which came up with the fact that government has spent about N423 Billion on Projects in the Niger delta region, noting that there were about 50% of duplicated projects in the region.

The Minister thanked the European Union for its efforts in the Niger Delta Support Programme which he said was aimed at providing clean water for many communities in the region; saying that due to the Ministry’s intervention, some states had paid up their counterpart fund, while some have indicated interest to pay up soon.

The Minister called for the collaboration and possible intervention and support of the European Union in the areas of Youth and Women Empowerment, Capacity Building in Agriculture and other Vocations, Household Economic Aid, Education, among others, for the common man in the Niger Delta region.

Earlier, Ambassador John Groffen of the Kingdom of Netherlands welcomed the Minister and assured him of the readiness of the European Union to assist Nigeria in bringing more development projects and programmes to the Niger
Delta region.

He called on the Nigerian government to unravel the root cause of youth restiveness in the region.

Signed

*Marshall Gundu*

Director Press

17th March, 2017
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