The outgoing Country Director, United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, Ade Mamonyane Lekoetse has tasked stakeholders in the electoral process in Nigeria to ensure that the outcome of the 2015 general elections was free, fair and transparent.
Lekoetse, who got a new appointment as UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for the Republic of Gambia, threw the challenge at a farewell event organised for her by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
She was accompanied to the event by her successor, Bernado Cocco.
According to her, the country required a peaceful poll in 2015 to sustain the current unity, as well as foster cohesion to confront developmental challenges, among others.
“As for 2015, I pray for the unity of Nigeria and that the forthcoming 2015 elections would be peaceful and results widely accepted so that Nigeria would continue to smile after 2015,” she said.
The UNDP is a major development partner with the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, and under the outgoing Country Director, the partnership yielded tremendous achievements in physical development and production of the famous Niger Delta Action Plan aimed at fast-tracking the region’s development.
Lekoetse also advised the Federal Government to take the issue of development challenge in the Niger Delta seriously, noting that the region was very important to the survival of the country on the account of its economic capability, and thus the government should focus on its development.
“Our work was not in vain because the validation mission was very successful and the report was widely accepted and the recommendations were laudable and approved.
“For me and for most Nigerians, Niger Delta is very important because as they say, the goose that lays the golden eggs. And if the goose and eggs are not taken care of, Nigeria would not be what it is or aspires to be.
“Niger Delta is very important and we are hoping that the action plan which is a very beautiful document and has been widely endorsed be implemented, particularly because most revenue for development and well being of this nation comes from that region, so, efforts to ensure that the people in the Niger Delta are well looked after ensuring that they get the benefits of what God endowed on the country, which they are the custodians, should be our concern.
“It is also very important that we have peace in this region and the nation at large. It is on this basis that the UNDP in 2009 supported the preparation of the marshal plan that ushered in the amnesty programme to curb the insurgence of militancy.
“Another major efforts of UNDP under my regime is that the body has been working in the region to ensure that the issue of environmental pollution is addressed and cleaned. Recommendation would be implemented as discussions are on and actions have already been taken.
“The report is not only being looked at only for the Ogoni land, the issue of pollution affected all the Niger Delta states. We are working with the ministries of petroleum and environment to clean up the region and enhance the livelihood of the people around there.
“I want to solicit that the professional and cordial relationship that I enjoyed from the ministry that held my partnership in high esteem be extended to my successor to safeguard the cooperation and friendship between UNDP and MNDA.”
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, who assured that President Goodluck Jonathan was committed to keeping Nigeria as one, said the President was determined to support the electoral institutions ahead of the 2015 general polls.
“Mr. President is committed and determined to keep Nigeria one. God has a purpose for bringing all Nigerians together; our culture, language, people and diversity are very important.
“Nigeria as a country will not disintegrate. Mr President is determined to support the electoral institutions. 2015 elections will be free and fair. President Goodluck Jonathan’s election slogan of one man, one vote will be upheld.”
Orubebe described UNDP in Nigeria as a valuable progress partner for its unflinching support for the entrenchment of peace, progress and sustainable infrastructural development of the Niger Delta.
According to him, through the focus and purposeful leadership of the outgoing country Director, Mamonyane Lekoetje, UNDP was greatly instrumental to the design and development of the Niger Delta action plan.