There is no doubt, that in the last five weeks, the country has experienced a lot of unrest due to the activities of hoodlums that hijacked #EndSARS peaceful protests leading to the looting and destruction of both government and private properties.
In the midst of all the tension then, the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio having realised the importance of the Niger Delta Region in the nation’s economy, relocated to the region in order to use his influence to appeal for peace from the youths of the region who have utmost respect for the minister because of his track records in the development of the region.
The youths also laid down their arms during the protests as a sign of appreciation of our dear President Muhammadu Buhari as a result of his overwhelming support and efforts in addressing the problems militating against the development of the region for a very long time. This effort by the minister clearly demonstrated his unrelenting efforts in ensuring peace in the region in particular and Nigeria in general.
The presence of the minister during the #EndSARS protests in the region has no doubt saved a lot of government properties and critical infrastructures especially the oil pipelines from destruction and also saved the economy from being endangered at a time when the country cannot afford any disruption in the flow of oil needed to raise scarce foreign exchange.
Senator Akpabio’s visit to the region during the protests also demonstrated the love and respect he enjoys from the people of the region. It portrayed him clearly as a grassroots politician who is always in touch with his people and ready to render assistance whenever the need arises.
The visit also came when other politicians were running from their states and villages for the fear of the unknown, but the Niger Delta Minister rather left the comfort of his home in Abuja to his home town and the entire Niger Delta to appeal for peace in the region and Nigeria as a whole. This speaks to our politicians and leaders on the need for humility, respect, love and selfless service to the electorate and humanity in general. This brings one to the issue of reforms in the NDDC, which is being resisted by few vociferous critics.
What is expected from the good people of Niger Delta Region and indeed other well meaning Nigerians is total support and cooperation with the minister who has the full support of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the total turnaround of the region in terms of development through the interventionist agency, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Those distracting the minister, should know that the reforms embarked upon by him and the management of NDDC is not for the benefit of the minister neither is it for the benefit of the management team, rather it is for the benefit of the entire Niger Delta Region and the generations unborn. Therefore the critics should put aside their selfish interests and support the minister and his team to turn around the fortune of the region.
The region has suffered a lot of setbacks in terms of underdevelopment due to corruption, mismanagement of allocated resources and abandonment of projects which if completed will add much value to the lives of the people.
Having someone like Senator Akpabio managing the affairs of Niger Delta Ministry at this critical point in time is not out of place, as the ministry needs a man of focus, experience, problem-solver and bold-mind that would pursue the agenda of the President in the region.
With regards to the 2021 budget, those trying to frustrate the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and its interventionist agency NDDC should also have it at the back of their minds that the budget for the region does not go into the minister’s pocket or the pocket of his management team. The budget is strictly for the development of the oil rich region. It is also good to remind them that the more the budget is delayed, the more the underdevelopment of the region because timing is of utmost importance in carrying out critical projects in the region.
Before 2021 budget was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, the minister had already made pronouncements that most part of the budget will be channeled for roads and other infrastructures which are major challenges confronting the people of the region. The dry season is the right time to embark on road constructions across the various communities, villages/towns in the Niger Delta region, so delay in approval of Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs budget is not acceptable.
The minister should be allowed to deliver on the mandate assigned to him by Mr. President who is ever ready and willing to support the minister and the region.
– Bala, a social researcher and public commentator writes from Abuja