Edward visits Niger Delta, calls for urgent rural development intervention in OgonilandJun 10, 2017
UNDP Resident Representative, Edward Kallon was on mission to the Niger Delta to get firsthand information from a variety of stakeholders on the issues the region faces. The Niger Delta occupies about 7.5% of Nigeria’s landmass and extends over about 70,000 km2 and home to over 20 million people. The region, endowed with oil, is also characterized by numerous development and environmental challenges.
During his visit, Edward met the Board Chair and Management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) at the Commission’s Head Quarters in Port Harcourt. NDDC was established in seventeen years ago, with the mission to “facilitate rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful.”
As such the Commission is mandated to, among other things; tackle ecological and environmental problems that arise from the exploration of oil mineral in the Niger Delta region and advising the Federal Government and the member states on the prevention and control of oil spillages, gas flaring and environmental pollution. It is also mandated with the responsibility of identifying factors inhibiting the development of the region and assisting the member states in the formulation and implementation of policies to ensure sound and efficient management of the resources of the Niger Delta region.
During the visit to NDDC, Management of the Commission, which has just been in office for six months, briefed the Head of UNDP and his delegation on the Commission new vision and strategy. The Commission presented to the visiting delegation its achievements since assuming office. The Commission indicated that it is exploring partnership avenues with different institutions including the United Nations system in Nigeria for support and collaboration.
Still in the region, Edward travelled to Ogoniland where he met with traditional and community leaders in the oil-spill contaminated area. During the visit to the area, Edward noted that Ogoniland lacked development activities, pointing that youths were not engaged in productive activities neither were there in school. After visiting the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) demonstration and training site, Edward noted that while it will take a long time to clean-up the polluted soil and water bodies, efforts must be made to provide livelihood alternatives for the affected communities. “There is need for urgent rural development interventions in Ogoniland,” he added.
Edward, however, called for patience with the work of HYPREP - the Government of Nigeria set up HYPREP to lead and co-ordinate the activities needed to implement the recommendations of a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on oil contamination in Ogoniland. Decade-long contamination of the environment in Ogoniland as a result of oil extraction in the Niger Delta has led to the destruction of farmlands, aquatic life, and rending much of the soil unproductive. The Government of Nigeria launched the clean-up of Ogoniland on June 2016.
Edward also took time to me with representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Niger Delta and the Governing Board of the Ogoni Clean-up, who shared with him their views on the ongoing development challenges in the region and options for addressing them.