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Ministry Moves To End Pipeline Vandalisation, Conflict, Others In Niger Delta

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By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
THE Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has begun move to put an end to pipeline vandalisation and fashion out a community-based approach to resolving disputes and security related issues in the region.

Speaking at a Peace and Security Enlightenment and Sensitization Programme with theme: ‘Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution: A Pathway to Development held at Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State, Niger Delta Minister of State, Senator Omotayo appealed to Niger Deltans to embrace a peaceful alternative to resolve grievances and agitation.

He said: “I salute your courage and patience. Permit me to also thank the various community heads, youth and women leaders for their efforts at maintaining peace in your various communities”

“Everybody should bear in mind that while blowing up oil pipelines will certainly hurt the economy, the greatest damage is ourselves. We degrade our soil, damage our ecosystem and create long term hardship for our communities.”

Omotayo said the thrust of the peace and security programme is principally to provide the platform for a multi-stakeholders’ dialogue with the people by fashioning out a community-based approach to resolving disputes and security related issues.

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He said the platform would enhance the sustenance of communication channels between government and the people of grassroots with a view to providing enlightenment on programmes and policies geared towards securing sustainable development as well as obtaining inputs into programmes and projects of government for the region.

The Minister charged Nigerians to gradually stop full dependence on oil and gas to other means of more sustainable livelihood such as agriculture and other vocations, adding that the Ministry is ready to collaborate with all well-meaning people and organizations in the region and Nigeria at large to fast track the development of the region.

Speaking further, the Minister called on all stakeholders to work together to eliminate obstacles in the development of the Niger Delta region.

He stressed the need for collaboration and synergy between the Ministry and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to harmonize the existing Niger Delta Action Plan of the Ministry and the Mandate of NDDC into a single development agenda through a process that will ensure robust participation of the people as a priority area in the year 2020.

He said the people of Imo State have opted to toe the line of peace in all their dealings particularly the peace loving people of Oguta Local Government Area who inspite of being a host community that was usually associated with militancy and agitations has consistently tread the path of dialogue to press for their demands.

In his opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Babayo Kumo Ardo ably represented by Director Planning Research and Statistics (PRS), Mr. Alfred Abah, expressed that the theme of the programme is in line with the mandate of the Ministry as a proactive measure to promote peace, stability and security in the Niger Delta Region.

He added that the essence of the gathering was to brainstorm and engage in strategic dialogue in order to harmonize the activities of the various stakeholders with a goal to sustain the prevalent serenity in the State.

In his goodwill message, His Royal Highness, Eze Nnani Nzeribe, Eze Eyiche, the Ezeigwe of Oguta Autonomous Community, said Oguta is a semi-urban town and an accommodating community blessed with mineral resources like kaolin, Crude Oil & Gas but unfortunately, these minerals are the source of Conflicts in the area.

In his words, “We are happy that the Federal Government is re-emphasising peace and security as a means to development as we are looking forward to Federal Government’s intervention to this Autonomous community.”

One of the Resource Persons, Dr. Jane Favour Chukwukere in her presentation said peace building calls for multi- sectoral approach which according to her, is a collaboration between organizations in different areas of policy and different sectors as well as Communities and people, working together to achieve policy outcome. She therefore defined peace as a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence.

Jane highlighted some causes of violence and elaborated more on the benefits of peace as it enriches our communities and individual lives as it directs us to embrace diversity and support one another to the fullest, enhance good governance and economic development amongst others.

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