FG delegates meet Niger Delta ex-agitators, chiefs as contractors begin work on East-West road

Federal Government delegation comprising the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, has met with agitators in the Niger Delta to strengthen the peace in the region.

The meeting which was held in Okochiri, the Palace of King Ateke Tom was to explore different approaches towards speeding up the development of the region by collaborating in the execution of common projects and programmes.

It was presided over by PAP’s interim administrator, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (Rtd), Minister Of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio and the interim Administrator, NDDC Effiong Akwa.

Prominent ex-agitators who attended the meeting were King Ateke Tom, Ebikabowei Victor Ben popularly called Boyloaf and Bibopre Ajube aka Shoot-at-Sight, among others. First-Class chiefs in the region were also in attendance.

Dikio said it was high time all sister agencies and stakeholders worked in synergy to develop the region, maintain the peace and create enabling environment for businesses.

According to him: “Now is the time for all sister agencies and stakeholders within the Niger Delta region to work in synergy to ensure the safety and security of lives and properties and also create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

“We brokered peace with major stakeholders in the region. We inherited quite a lot of debts but we have started paying those debts sequentially from 2014.

“As for our scholarship students, we are clearing all the debts. We have issues of students who have partial scholarships and we are working to ensure that the dichotomy does not exist any longer.

“We have a different view of empowerment. We want to ensure that if you say somebody is empowered he is either an entrepreneur, who could stand on his feet or so well-trained that he can compete for any job not because he is from the Niger Delta but because he is qualified to hold an appointment”.

The minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio said he was overwhelmed by the calibre of stakeholders assembled by Ateke Tom, especially the presence of first-class chiefs.

He said: “Ateke Tom has shocked my delegation today. We were not expecting to see the turnout of all the First Class chiefs in Rivers State and other parts of the Niger Delta. We thought we were just coming to his palace to meet with his colleagues and the generals.

“Shockingly we met such creme la de creme of the traditional institutions in the region. It is a wonderful thing that this unity is coming back. We need this peace in the region for us to move ahead.

“President Muhammadu Buhari means well. Peace has returned to the region and I am quite grateful. We must find ways to develop modalities of moving this region forward. We have too many unemployed youths and we must find ways to bring in foreign direct investments and also build industries including small and medium scale industries.

“We are determined to make a difference. I would like to see a bit of uncommon difference in the region. The contractors are fully back to the East-West road. They are working very hard and they will deliver the work on time”.