FG to unveil roadmap for Niger Delta development

FG to unveil roadmap for Niger Delta development
The Federal Government will soon unveil a comprehensive road map for the development of the Niger Delta, a Presidency source told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday.

The road map is the high point of the implementation planning meeting on March 17, between the Federal Government and Niger Delta stakeholders in conjunction with multinational oil companies.

The meeting took place at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo presiding.

According to the source, the road map, which will sign-post the transformation of the region, comprises a diligent, new and comprehensive work plan that will address marginalization and underdevelopment in the region.

NAN learnt that the broad areas of initial interventions being considered in the plan include the take-off of the Maritime University and the attendant financial grant, establishment of Modular Refineries including the engagement of the illegal refiners.

Also in the plan is the continuation and revamping of the Pipeline Protection contracts; a progressive review of the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme, revisiting the Abandoned Projects in the region; and the Clean-up of Ogoni land.

The implementation of the work plan would be anchored by the Federal Government in conjunction with the relevant state governments, development partners, the private sector and multinational organisations operating in the region.

In the plan, the Federal Government has activated a process for the smooth take-off of the Maritime University, Gbaramatu, with the Petroleum Trust Development Fund as the lead agency in the implementation.

In this regard, the Federal Government is considering the release of a substantial take-off grant for the university while awaiting the conclusion of legislation on the establishment of the university by the National Assembly.

According to the source the Presidency has directed the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in conjunction with the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF) and other stakeholders to design an effective funding model for the university.

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The Presidency has also directed the NDDC to liaise with the relevant agencies and organisations to facilitate the construction of an access road through Escravos to the university in Gbaramatu community.

The source also said that the modular refineries being planned in the region using operators of illegal refineries would soon commence operation.

In the plan, the refineries would be private sector driven but operators of such illegal refineries could become shareholders with additional investments made in their businesses.

The presidency had directed the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, as the anchor of the modular refinery initiative, to work in conjunction with the NDDC and state governments in the region to actualize the goal.

The source also said the presidency had directed the NDDC to evolve a strategy that would organise all modular refinery operators in the region into cooperatives to enable them to access better funding and other support from relevant organizations.

As part of the region’s comprehensive development plan the Federal Government planned to complete all abandoned projects in the South-South.

Already, following the threat by Osinbajo to revoke all such contracts and prosecute those involved, some of the contractors were reported to have returned to site.

The source told NAN that the presidency had directed the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to produce a comprehensive report of all road projects in the South-South region to enable government to intervene.

The source added that as a feature in the new Niger Delta vision, the Federal Government would revisit the issue of pipeline protection contracts.

As a result the presidency had directed the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at the protection contracts to ensure that host communities were also incorporated while ensuring a comprehensive review of existing ones.

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“Under the new arrangements, the Federal Government would likely renew some existing pipeline protection contracts while new contracts would be signed,’’ the source said.

The plan projected the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme as one that had come to stay while under the new dispensation there would active participation of the various state governments.

On the Ogoni Clean-up project, the plan placed it under the environmental remediation programme of the new Niger Delta Development Vision proposed by the Buhari presidency.

Meanwhile, a coordinator for the Ogoni clean-up project is in place.

The coordinator had begun setting up a project office and recruitment of staff while the contractors had moved to site to demonstrate the appropriate technology for the project.

According to presidency sources, “ 10 million dollars out of the initial 250 million dollars for the commencement of the project has been released by Shell oil company while the project office has commenced the opening of accounts for funding of the project.’’

The Ogoni clean-up project is to be funded with an initial one billion dollars from the oil sector stakeholders comprising the NNPC, SPDC, Total and AGIP.(NAN)

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