President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Abuja assured the people of Niger Delta that his administration would continue to support rapid development in the region by consolidating on all ongoing projects and initiating new ones to create more economic opportunities and jobs for the people.
He made the remark while receiving the Olu of Warri, His Royal Majesty Ogiame Ikenwoli at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
In a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and publicity, Femi Adesina, President Buhari reiterated the Federal government’s commitment to maintaining peace and security in the Niger Delta for economic and social activities to thrive.
He told the delegation led by the Olu of Warri that developing the region remained a priority for his administration, adding that under his watch every region in the country would witness increased investments in critical infrastructure.
The President appealed to the people of Niger Delta to complement ongoing efforts by the Federal government to bring more development in the region by maintaining peace, security and harmony.
He promised to look into some of the concerns raised by the delegation including the dredging of Escravos bar for Warri and Koko ports, the gas revolution industrial park and EPZ project in Ogidigben, the ecological challenges in Ode-Itsekiri, Ugborodo, Orere/Yanagho and Ogheye-Eghoroke, among others.
The President also used the occasion of the visit by the Royal Majesty to commend Itsekiri people for producing men of strong convictions like Prof Itse Sagay, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption (PACAC).
He said ‘‘Thanks for producing a man like Prof. Itse Sagay, who is defending us robustly and stepping on many toes in the process. If he’s not a man of conviction, he couldn’t have done that.
‘‘What he is doing is exceptional. Despite coming from a minority area, he’s showing overwhelming influence at the centre.
‘‘Prof, I never had the opportunity to thank you personally for all you’re doing. Thank you very much,’’ the President said.
The Olu of Warri, who commiserated with the President over the loss of his two extended family members, also commended him for achieving his campaign promises on the fight against insurgency and corruption, as well as the successes recorded in reducing criminal acts of vandalism of oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta.
Later at a separate audience with Dr Ado Ibrahim Atta 111, the Ohinoyi of Ebira land, President Buhari thanked the royal father for his continued support of his administration.
In his remarks, the Ohinoyi of Ebira land commended the President for his renewed interest in reviving the Ajaokuta Steel and expressed the hope that the project will come back to life and be inaugurated under Buhari’s administration.
‘‘You are a man of hope, courage and action. May all the good things you want for Nigeria come to pass,’’ the Ohinoyi said.
Speaking with State House journalists at the end of the meeting, the Olu of Warri, His Majesty Ogiame Ikenwole called on the Federal Government to activate the utilization of Warri and Koko Ports, stressing that it will reduce the restiveness in the area and also create jobs for the youths.
He also called for the actualization of the planned gas industrial park (gas city) that is valued at $20 billion, through a Public-Private Partnership model.
The Olu of Warri who led a delegation including the immediate past governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan, decried the fact that while other ports in the country were active and contributing to the economic activities in their states, that of Warri and Koko have remained not utilized.
He said their area of concerns presented to the President was the rising insecurity, challenges in the Niger Delta area, ecological problems, infrastructure development, as well as lack of access to ports in the state.
He said “We presented some issues that affects our area most especially our ports. Our ports are not working, Warri Port and Koko Port are very good and solid ports that are not working. While other ports in other areas are working, ours are just left unutilised. So we want the ports to be activated so that there can start working, and that will mop up a lot of youths from the streets. When the ports were working there were no restiveness in the area.
“Apart from that there is also the gas city, it is a fantastic project. The last president did the ground breaking before he left but since then nothing has been happening. We want the federal government to hasten action on it because that will mop up over 300,000 unemployed youths from the streets. So when all of our youths are engaged the restiveness will be minimized.”
“We have the Koko road that needs to be fixed. That road will open up the area, allow economic activities to expand. We have the escravos road that also needs to be fixed. We also want the railway that is going on now, we want it to come to the area by that the economic activities will thrive better and Nigerians will be happy for it.”
On the President’s response was, the monarch said, “He assured us that they will do their best. His hands are tied because everybody demands his attention but that he will follow through our requests to ensure that the things are done.”
Also speaking with State House journalists, Uduaghan expressed satisfaction with President Buhari’s response to the request presented to him.
He said, “I’m here on the delegation of the Olu of Warri who is here to visit Mr. President.
“We are really encouraged with his response especially in the area we had a lot of challenges. Mr. President listened to the Olu of Warri.
“We presented the challenges of security, you know we are in an area in the Niger Delta where there has been a lot of insecurity challenges. We also have challenges of ecological problems; we also have the problem of infrastructure development, problem of access to ports which is very critical.
“Delta has six ports and to be able to get to the ports there is a place called escravos bar which has been very shallow. Even the water channel is highly stilted and so the Olu of Warri was appealing to the federal government to dredge the escravos channels so that the bigger ships will be able to come into the ports of delta especially the Warri Ports.” he said