The amount of problems inherited by the current administration from the Niger Delta means that nothing literally was done in the region by past administrations, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said.
He said although over $40bn had been pumped into the region in the past 15 years, the impact of such huge fund, had not been felt in the oil-rich area.
Kachikwu, who disclosed these while speaking on some of the findings by his ministry and other agencies in the Niger Delta, in a podcast that was made available to our correspondent in Abuja, stated that the trouble in the area almost crippled Nigeria.
He said, “This (podcast) edition would focus strictly on the Niger Delta security issue. The sheer amount of problems we inherited from the Niger Delta means that literally nothing was done. The country was getting crippled; no money for investment; no money for infrastructure, and no money to run the budget. We had to move in very rapidly with the support of the President.
“We dealt with three fundamental issues. We decided to deal first with the environment and security issues. What are we going to do with the environment? The first thing we realised was that the one-on-one engagement would not take us to the promised land and we embarked on wider interventions.”
Kachikwu said the interventions in the region had created sanity in Nigeria’s oil sector, a development that led to increased capital spending by the government and increased foreign exchange reserves.
He said, “What we have done is to take a very difficult environment and bring some sort of sanity into it. Today, when we celebrate over two million barrels of oil, over $75-$77 price of oil, enhanced and increasing reserve size for this country, the highest capital budget that this country has seen in decades, it is all because we have found a way to bring sanity into this very difficult environment.”
The minister stated that a lot had been done in the past three years to develop the capacity and economy of the region, stressing that several billions of dollars were spent in the Niger Delta in the past without commensurate development.
Kachikwu said, “The area where I think we have done a lot of work is in capacity building and economic empowerment. The greatest problem with the Niger Delta has been that. It is not because money has not gone in. Inter-agency researches that we have done showed that over $40bn has gone into the Niger Delta in a period of over 15 years.
“So, what we are trying to do is working under the office of the Vice-President, we are working in conjunction with the Ministry of Niger Delta, Ministry of Environment, Niger Delta Development Commission, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, oil companies and everybody.”
He said the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources had started working with an inter-ministerial group under the Vice-President to build capacity and economic empowerment in the grassroots.
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