By GbaramatuVoice Editorial Board
For a greater part of 2017, Niger Delta had enjoyed mixed media reportage; the good, the bad and at some points, the message of hope.
In line with our tradition at GbaramatuVoice, we present an objective prognosis of some of the events that attract national and international attention to the Niger Delta region during the out-gone year.
During the year, the Federal Government made a lot of promises concerning the remediation and clean-up of the Ogoni land, the rehabilitation, empowerment/absorption of some rehabilitated ex-militants.
Also, a Federal Government agency, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) unveiled with much fanfare, some fresh guidelines for the establishment of modular refineries in the country.
The year also witnessed a threat by the Niger Delta Avengers to abandon a cease fire agreement it had with the Federal Government, which has led to the fragile piece being enjoyed by the region, to resume hostility in the oil-rich area.
However, in-depth investigations by GbaramatuVoice revealed that, to the consternation of the people of the region, most of the promises and much trumpeted intervention programmes of the Federal Government and its agencies have been more of talking than implementation.
The Niger Delta Ministry and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the two bodies saddled with the responsibilities of uplifting the standard of living of the people of the region, have been fiddling away, as they are wont to do in the past.
Their calendar year was characterized by allegations of incessant abandonment and the delivery of sub-standard projects.
Pithily, the state governments in the region, who are regarded as the immediate custodians of the people’s mandate, especially at the grassroots level, have been worse culprits at denying their people of the essentials of life.
They hinge their campaign promises on delivering the dividends of democracy to the people, but no sooner than they step into the various government lodges, they start displaying their real first love.
They love living life of fullness in reckless debauchery, living like their predecessors, on high spirits, with the best exotic wine by the progenitors in France, Germany, South Africa and Spain that go with their meals, even as they abandon their workers and make the payment of salaries look like life- long achievements.
We, here in GbaramatuVoice are pained to report that they share the penchant for neglect of the riverrine communities, with their neglectful Federal Government colleagues (or is it collaborators?).
All these series of neglects, abandonment and unfulfilled promises by the parties (State and Federal Government) have been responsible for the high degree of unrest and violence recorded in the region in the time past.
For all these to be reversed, and for a lasting peaceful to come to the Niger Delta region in 2018 and beyond, it is our views that;
The Federal Government should adopt a sensitive posture towards the development of the region come 2018. They can achieve this by the direct involvement in the development of the region, rather than relying on the misinformation and doctored reports from the insensitive Ministry of the Niger Delta and their allies in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), who both work at variance with the aspirations of the people of the area.
The benefitting oil companies operating in the region, should learn to go beyond their so-called conventional Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and do more to palpably develop the region, which is the goose that lays the golden egg.
The year 2018 is the period for the Niger Delta Ministry and the NDDC, to as a matter of urgency, to revisit the Niger Delta Development Plan and do more than paying lip service to its immediate implementation.
Closely related to the above is the need for the completion of all the abandoned projects as well as flagging-off of new projects by the ministry and the NDDC.
We equally suggest that the Federal Government investigate the recent protests and allegations against their handlers by the Niger Delta ex-militants and other stakeholders in the Federal Government amnesty programme and the offending parties should be fished out and sanctioned appropriately.
On the operation of modular refineries, the DPR/NNPC should immediately organize and effectively coordinate the activities and efforts of the operators, rather than the present clamp down been imposed on them.
This newspaper would like to use this medium to call on state governors in the region to adopt the posture of engaging the true traditional leaders and other stakeholders and development partners in the region, as against the present situation whereby they hob-nob with their political party associates, isolating these important personalities to the detriment of the interests of the people of their constituencies.
In the same vein, proffering a lasting solution to youth unemployment and developing a climate of sustainable future, through economic growth and technological innovation is another important responsibility GbaramatuVoice strongly believes will ensure a sustainable peace in the region.
This is inevitable. Just like a recent report succinctly puts it; ‘We are in dire state of strait because unemployment has diverse implications. Security wise, a largely unemployed youth population is a threat to the security of the few that are employed. Any transformation agenda that does not have job creation at the centre of its programme will take us nowhere.’
We acknowledge that youth’s unemployment cuts across regions, religions, tribes and that it has led to the proliferation of ethnic militias as well as youths restiveness across the country. However, to us, the situation in the Niger Delta region requires urgent attention as it may hamper the much-needed peace in the area, if treated with levity.
GbaramtuVoice as a news organization has since discovered from our interface with youths in the region that these threats have become more pronounced with the presence of the large number of army of professionally-trained, ex-militants currently roaming the streets without jobs.
Finally, it is our view that proper management of these teeming youths is the panacea to determining the success or otherwise of the various programmes of the stakeholders in the region, in the new year.