The Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND), represented by Tunji Idowu, Deputy Executive Director, participated at the Nigerian Industry Petroleum Summit (NIPS) in a panel session titled “The Niger Delta Region: Tangible Steps for Delivering Sustainable and Equitable Socio-Economic Improvement through Industrial Diversification.” Other panelists included Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum; Mr. Uguru Nsani Uguru, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs; the Governors of Bayelsa, Cross River, and Edo States; and the Managing Director of Oil Data Inc.
In his contributions, Tunji emphasized the need to move the discussion about the Niger Delta beyond oil and conflict, and onto the opportunities that exist there for development and investments. He emphasized PIND’s partnerships with stakeholders in the public, private, and people sectors, and how it has helped to facilitate the entry of international donor agencies into the Niger Delta over the last eight years. Sharing lessons learned from PIND’s work in agricultural value chains and helping to grow SMEs, he submitted that if more stakeholders invested to scale things up in agriculture – which he cited as providing large employment numbers – then the region stood to develop and have its fortunes change.
He further highlighted the need for clear long-term planning within individual and across states, sharing PIND’s work with the Cross River State Government on a 30-year Growth and Development strategy in this respect. Regional economic integration and funding of the BRACED Commission, the regional institution established to drive the process of cooperation and integration among the South-South states, was further stressed because now is a key time for the Niger Delta.
n other contributions, Dr. Kachikwu advanced transparency as key and urged Niger Delta Governors to not rely on federal infrastructure, but organize to execute regional projects. To achieve sustainable development, he also suggested youth training, access to capital, and specialist schools to unlock the full potential of the citizens from the region. Mr. Uguru updated on the Strategic Implementation Work Plan for the Niger Delta and shared that the final draft will be endorsed and presented to Federal Executive Council soon. Cross River’s State Governor, Ben Ayade, bemoaned that the communities have no say in the Niger Delta Development Commission, and advocated oil reform examples from Canada where oil bearing communities get a direct percentage of oil proceeds. Delta State’s Deputy Governor, Kingsley Otuaro who represented his boss, espoused peacebuilding as an enabler for development. Oil Data’s Dr. Ene stressed the importance of creating local boards and trust funds to invest in resident communities as some of the efforts to engender peace.
CNBC Africa’s “Beyond Markets” program also interviewed Mr. Idowu, with key issues being peacebuilding, the Niger Delta Development Forum, PIND’s sub-national planning efforts, and the organization’s collaborative partnership approach.
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