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Tribune Online
Living in scarcity amidst plenty

fund diversion, IRDC, hunger

The great hopes of a leap forward to a new era that came with the appointments of two Niger Delta sons to the leadership of the Ministry of the Niger Delta have now been dispelled.

The anticipated prosperity and authentic development that is being expected after the forensic audit by President Mohammadu Buhari has still not materialized.

The continuing politics of the government to deal with the challenges of winning the peace in the area and the overbearing influence of Abuja spoilers and local overlords raise new apprehension for the region.

Indeed, for over 60 years of oil and gas exploration, the Niger – Delta landscape has been dogged by underdevelopment, environmental injustice, poor infrastructure, corruption and existential wealth without good reputation. Life continues to be hard for the vast majority of people and political competition is intense due to limited economic opportunity within the region.

How then can we drive development and progress in the midst of political bickering? Undeniably, the Niger Delta is well-known for reaching political settlements under duress, teetering over the abyss and then pulling back to strike individual deals. Are the new appointments of the Niger Delta sons to drive the ministry another instance of old style political space to hoodwink the people?

However, some campaigners and critics agree that it is a sweet- smelling savour and an important step forward to diffuse tensions and set the stage for future development.

As laudable as the forensic audit and the call for a new board appears, the key questions remain: Does the government at the centre and the Ministry of the Niger Delta have the budgetary strength and, indeed, the capability to resolve the fundamental issues of oil exploration and exploitation that drove the region into over six decades of under-development and environmental degradation? Does the delay in constituting a new board and unearthing the vague and over- invoiced contract through the nebulous forensic audit signal the beginning of the fulfillment of hope and promise of dividends of democracy in the Niger Delta?

Indeed, it is perhaps too early to say. Fulfilling economic and social justice will likely prove most challenging. In my view, the promise of development for the Niger Delta remains largely aspirational where deep social inequalities and inequities persist.

While the Ministry of the Niger Delta is conceived as part of a bridge – building process to leapfrog the region away from the deeply divided past to a future founded on sustainable development and progress, its operationalisation and reality on the ground is still largely a mirage.

Crucially, the Niger Delta serves as a host community to Nigeria’s vast oil and gas infrastructure of over 30 oil fields, 5,284 wells, and 7,000 kilometres of pipeline, 10 export terminals, 275 flow stations, 10 gas plants, 4 leprous refineries and a massive liquefied natural gas sector. This perhaps underscores the strategic importance of the region to national development.

It is hoped that the faithful implementation of the forensic audit report and a new board devoid of further acrimony balm for healing broken minds and a foundation stone for restorative justice and authentic reconciliation mechanism for the Niger Delta.

 

Samuel Akpobome Orovwuje

Lagos.

Living in scarcity amidst plenty
Tribune Online



source https://tribuneonlineng.com/living-in-scarcity-amidst-plenty/

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