The Honourable Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Prof. Claudius Omoleye Daramola has said that peace and security are necessary ingredients for the development of the oil-rich Niger Delta Region.
The Minister made the disclosure at a Peace, Security Enlightenment and Community Health Outreach Programme with key stakeholders in the Niger Delta Region, held at Akampa Local Government Council Hall, Akampa, Cross River State, on Thursday.
"It is common knowledge that at periods of conflicts, communities are displaced and thus; felling the rank of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), disruption in economic and social activities, loss of lives and properties," he added.
Prof. Daramola who was represented by the Director, Press and Public Relations in the Ministry, Mr. Marshall Gundu reiterated that the programme was necessitated by the decisions reached at the Second National Council on Niger Delta, held in Akure, Ondo State capital in September, 2017, where stakeholders in the Niger Delta Region were enjoined to collaborate to promote socio-economic development and sustainable peace and stability of the Region. He also added that the medical outreach component of the programme was in line with the provisions of the National Health Policy, aimed at ensuring healthy living and promoting general well-being in line with the year 2030 Sustainable Development Goals on health.
"Our overall goal is to foster behavioural change, reduce stigma and improve access to quality care and support services for persons living with HIV/AIDS; promote integrated approach to control of communicable diseases such as Lassa and Monkey Pox Fevers, with a view to improving quality of lives and life expectancy for the people of the Niger Delta Region," the Minister stressed.
In his goodwill message at the event, the Paramount Ruler of Calabar Municipality, His Royal Majesty, Ndidem (Amb) Dr. Patrick Inok Oquagbor, said peace must begin with everyone, saying that the Federal Government's decision to have such a sensitization programme in the area was an attestation that Akampa was on the government's priority list. Ndidem Oquagbor stressed: "Akampa is the heart-beat of Cross River State and Nigeria in general, because much of the natural resources the country has are from here." His Royal Majesty added that dialogue was the only way the nation could solve it's problems
"It takes a long time to build a nation, but it takes a very short time to destroy it, if you want to," he reiterated. The Paramount Ruler enjoined the Federal Government to maintain peace by avoiding inequitable distribution of resources and human development. Similarly, speaking on behalf of the security agencies present, Chief Supretendent of Police, Asuquo Ebong who also represented the Cross River State Commissioner of Police, describing the theme of the programme as very apt and timely, considering the security situation in some parts of Cross River State and the Niger Delta Region at large, stated that "Where there is no peace, there can be no sustainable development." C.S.P Asuquo charged all the warring communities in the area to embrace peace.
While thanking the Federal Government for choosing Akampa Local Government to kick-start such a laudable event in Cross River State, the police chief also appealed to all stakeholders at the gathering to take the message of the peace and security sensitization to the grassroots. He pledged the support of security agencies to sustain peace in the area and the state.
In his presentation, titled; 'Hygiene and Communicable Diseases', Dr. Andrew Fiateide called on the people to cultivate the habit of hand washing, sleeping under treated mosquito nets and general cleanliness. He added that "A sick man is not interested in peace and security." Many Royal fathers, youths, women and other key stakeholders were in attendance at the programme.
The Paramount Ruler of Akampa, Ntufam Clement Ekpe Enayip said his people were peace- lovers, despite their level of poverty. He prayed for good things to continue to happen in the area, as he also thanked the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs for choosing Akampa for the programme. Highlights of the programme were peace and security sensitization, health talk, free medical checkups and distribution of drugs.
The Akampa event was the second of such a programme embarked upon by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in 2018. The first was held at Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State last week, many more of such programme will come up subsequently in other states of the region.