By Ayo Olowu, Jubril Bada & Chris Chimezie
Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), yesterday requested from the Federal Government, an approval of licence for the establishment of a Deep Sea Mining Port in the Ilaje Free Trade Zone.
This request came just as the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo declared that the Federal Government is determined to restore the mandate of the National Council on Niger Delta to exercise it’s role as a vehicle for partnership and collaboration for development of the Niger Delta region.
Osinbajo made this known during the opening ceremony of the second National Council on the Niger Delta meeting with theme: ‘Fast tracking the development of the Niger Delta region: options and prospects’, held at the International Culture and Event Centre (The Dome) in Akure, yesterday.
Akeredolu had explained that the state coastline, about 120 kilometres, is the longest and deepest in Nigeria and the West African sub region.
“The development of the deep sea mining port possesses the veritable potential to turn the Niger Delta areas of Ondo State into a hub of investment opportunities,” he said
Addressing the participants at the summit, Prof Osinbajo, explained that the people of the Niger Delta region did not expect pity and sympathy, because they deserve the fulfillment of decades of promises made to them.
“What they ask for is to be given the opportunity to feel the immense potential of this region and to enjoy the peace, security and development the constitution guarantees them as citizens.
“This is exactly what the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is focused in achieving because, for us, the development of the region is not optional,” he said.
The Vice-President acknowledged Ondo State as the land with the second largest deposit of bitumen in the world and reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government at ensuring that the Ministry of Niger Delta begins to meet its mandate.
He said the Buhari-led administration is done with era of failed promises as it has continued to match words with actions as demonstrated in the Ogoni Clean Up Initiative, the Niger Delta University and the Modular Refinery Project.
Prof. Osinbajo assured that the future envisioned for the Niger Delta Region is that which will have no place for restiveness and insecurity but a place where all the other biodiversity potentials of the region would begin to be developed for generation yet unborn.
He said all the tours embarked on had also strengthened the resolve, as a government to give prompt attention to the affairs of the Niger Delta region, in fulfilment of the legacy.
“In 9 years since the establishment of the Ministry of Niger Delta, it’s only the second convening of this national council, the first one was in 2013.
The Vice President added that the Federal Government is intended to break away from the legacy of broken and failed interventions inherited.
Osinbajo further said the Ogoni clean up was still on course, while the slow pace of the process could be attributed to learning from the errors of the past.
“The slow pace is for the simple reason that we have learned from the errors of our past when ambitious schemes were pursued without putting in place the right foundation.
“We will not settle for short work or quick fixes. We will take our time to do the right thing and respectfully ask for your continued patience and understanding,” he said.
Earlier in his address, Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), requested from the Federal Government, an approval of license for the establishment of a Deep Sea Mining Port in the Ilaje Free Trade Zone.
He explained that the state coastline, about 120 kilometres, was the longest and deepest in Nigeria and West African sub region.
“The development of the deep sea mining port possesses the veritable potential to turn the Niger Delta areas of Ondo State into a hub of investment opportunities,” he said.
Akeredolu further explained that it would greatly assist the quest to provide possibilities for infrastructural development of Ondo and Nigeria at large.
He further stated that it would add value to agriculture and solid minerals development, as evacuation of agricultural products and solid minerals like Bitumen, could be easily done without stress.
“The Mining Port, if approved, does not need any dredging and can allow passage of bigger vessels.
“It will also create employment opportunities for the teeming youths, improve socio-economic stance of the people and stimulate the development of micro and small/medium enterprises,” he said.
“We owe it duty to evolve a sustainable means of genuinely empowering the youth of the region through job creation and inclusion in decision-making processes.
“We must cater for the aged and other vulnerable groups and engender opportunity for wealth creation and redistribution through private sector-driven investments..
“We must provide potable water and electricity for our people, provide them access to quality healthcare, safeguard their environment and give them a sense of belonging in matters concerning them”, he said.
Also, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, said the Council is determined to place human efforts on the plough with resilience and focus that can guarantee a future of acceptable ecological habitat.
He added that for the peculiar circumstances of the Niger Delta region, even the least provision of basic needs convey a big leap in the development agenda.
“This is because the level of deprivation, neglect and disaffection is captured in a manner that can be seen as an astronomical exponent of the inverse proportion of its resource exploitation.
“This consciousness led to the agitation of good-minded people to agitate for various creations to handle the affairs of development in the region. This basic understanding must be adequately appropriated in our minds to commit us to accountable actions”, he said.
Osinbajo was accompanied by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Usani Uguru Usani, Minister of State for Niger Delta; Prof. Claudius Daramola and Chairman, Board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Victor Udoma.
The Vice President was recieved by the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), Speaker, Ondo State House of Assembly, Rt Hon David Oleyelogun, Chief of Staff to Ondo State Governor, Chief Olugbenga Ale, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Hon Ifedayo Abegunde, Deputy National Chairman, South of APC, Mr Segun Oni, Chairman, South West of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Pius Akinyelure among others.