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$10bn infrastructure scheme’ll tame insurgency in N/Delta

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The recent inauguration of the Niger Delta Development Initiatives valued at $10bn has been described as one of the best sustainable strategies to stop insurgency and restiveness in the oil producing areas of Niger Delta.

The federal government had Thursday this week launched the programme with the hope that the plan will end insurgency so as to boost oil production.

The launch according to a source at the Office of the Minister of State for Petroleum is to lay a reliable background for the President Muhammadu Buhari’s meeting with representatives of militant groups and community leaders from the Niger Delta in Abuja next week in a bid to end the attacks.

The Minister for State, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu described bringing the insurgency to an end as the first goal of a seven-point plan.

“Our target is to ensure zero militancy in the area,” he said. “This planned meeting shows the level of interest the president has to ensure peace in the area.”

The $10 billion investment is “not necessarily” going to come from the federal government, but rather from “oil companies, investors, individuals”, he said.

Militants fighting for a greater share of the OPEC member’s wealth complain of poverty and a lack of development across the Niger Delta region, where most of Nigeria’s oil is pumped.

The seven-part strategy also envisages passing a long-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill by December. The bill, which covers everything from an overhaul of state oil company NNPC to taxes on upstream projects, was delayed by violence in the Delta, which at one point cut production to 30-year lows.

The first part of the bill is already pending in the senate, and Kachikwu said the second part, which deals with fiscal aspects of the petroleum industry, is “almost completed” and will be presented to the oil industry in the next week or two.

While the government has emphasized diversifying the economy, Buhari said on Thursday it would be impossible to move forward without the oil industry.

He said “Oil and gas resources still remain the most immediate and practical keys out of our present economic crisis,” Buhari said, and the plan for the industry is “a national imperative and a core thrust of our economic policy”.


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