Buhari is committed to prosperous Niger Delta –Group

The Legacy Awareness Campaign Group of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to ensuring a safe, secure and prosperous Niger Delta.

Mr Tolu Ogunlesi, one of the leaders of the group, said this in a statement he issued on Tuesday in Abuja.

He noted the Niger region, though well endowed, was left to suffer the negative consequences of mineral exploitation.

He said the narrative, however, changed as the Ogoni clean-up programme finally kicked off under Buhari`s watch.

“The procurement process for the clean-up commenced in 2018, while the actual remediation commenced in January 2019, with the handing over of the first batch of 21 sites to the selected contractors, for remediation.

“A second batch of sites was handed over in February 2020; 15 sites have now been fully cleaned, while work continues on others.

“In addition to the remediation, the clean-up project is also rehabilitating old water schemes and constructing new ones across Ogoniland,’’ he said.

Ogunlesi noted that one of the first tasks in the clean-up was a water quality assessment in all the four local governments that make up Ogoniland.

He said until 2016, there was only one functioning modular refinery in the entire Niger Delta, with a capacity to refine 1,000 barrels of crude per day.

He added that spurred by the Buhari administration’s new vision for the Niger Delta, there were now several modular refineries being constructed in the area, all initiated by the private sector.

He said the Presidential Amnesty Programme, inherited from previous administrations, had continued to deliver on its mandate, with Buhari’s full support.

“The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is being reformed and repositioned, in line with the president’s vision of ensuring that Niger Delta people benefit maximally from the wealth of their land.

“The administration has recently completed and inaugurated the commission’s headquarters building, 25 years after construction began, and after several spells of abandonment by previous governments.

“After close to two decades of false starts, the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) has seen the light of day, with the signing into law of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by Buhari on Aug. 16,’’ Ogunlesi said.

He said this was yet another jinx broken by Buhari, adding that the PIA would make available an estimated $500 million annually for host communities to deploy for developmental projects.

He added that this was unprecedented in the country`s history because there had never been any dedicated fund to serve host communities.

According to him, another jinx broken is the inability, since 2003, to conduct bid rounds for marginal oil fields.

“This year the Department of Petroleum Resources concluded the first of such bids in 18 years, with an estimated value of around half a billion dollars in expected revenues for the government.

“This is in addition to billions of dollars that will be invested in the purchased assets and in host communities.

“Even as his administration enters its final lap, President Buhari will not relent in the implementation of his vision of a safe, secure and prosperous Niger Delta,’’ Ogunlesi stressed.