The Federal Government has secured funding of over $1 billion from Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to develop the Niger Delta region, acting President Yemi Osinbajo has announced.
Mr. Osinbajo made the announcement on Monday in Port Harcourt at a town hall meeting with governors, former governors, community leaders, women and various youth groups in the Niger Delta region.
He said the vicious cycle of abandonment amidst plenty, and neglect of the region must stop, adding that this underscored the priority given to the clean up of Ogoniland by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr. Osinbajo said the inauguration of governing council and board of trustees on August 4, 2016 and January 12, 2017, were some measures taken by the administration to ensure the clean up of Ogoniland.
“A funding of 1 billion dollars at 200 million dollars per annum over five years has been provided by Shell to provide drinking water, conduct health impact assessment and demonstrate remediation technologies.
“A groundbreaking for the construction of Centre of Excellence will be launched in a few days.
“Training of 2,000 women from four local government areas in greenhouse, shrimp, poultry farming for empowerment will commence soon.
“Environmental remediation is important throughout the entire region,’’ Mr. Osinbajo said.
He said that fears being expressed that these projects would be abandoned should not be entertained as they were not being handled alone by the federal government.
He said there was no reason why infrastructure built in the region could not be compared to infrastructure built in oil-producing communities anywhere in the world.
He promised that coal-powered refineries and issues surrounding petro-chemical plants would be looked into by the government.
He said the Federal Government was interested in the continuation of the amnesty programme.
“We must re-commit to making the Niger Delta region a vibrant economic zone,’’ Mr. Osinbajo said, adding that the government intended to use small, medium businesses to drive, create employment and stimulate growth in the area.
“I have made notes, I have listened carefully; this will be a beginning that will change the narrative of the Niger Delta,’’ Mr. Osinbajo promised said.