Synergy and collaboration among stakeholders and development partners are necessary to address the challenges of providing social and infrastructural needs for the people of the Niger Delta Region.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani made the remark in Owerri, Imo State at a workshop for the validation of the report of a baseline survey of social and infrastructural resource base in the Niger Delta Region.
The minister advised the workshop participants to review the report of the survey critically with a view to come out with a final document that could be used to attract interests and funds for the provision of social and infrastructural facilities in the Niger Delta Region.
The workshop was organised by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program.
The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the United Nations Development Program commissioned a consulting firm, the African Centre for Shared Development Capacity Building to carry out the baseline survey.
Pastor Usani commended United Nations Development Program for funding the survey of the baseline report and the workshop for the validation of the survey, adding that the support would fast track developmental efforts in the Niger Delta Region.
The minister noted that when the survey on the baseline report was finally ratified and okayed for use by stakeholders it would help reduce duplication of projects by government agencies, stakeholders and development partners in the Niger Delta Region.
He requested that the United Nations Development Program should also help in training staff of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in some critical areas of its operation in the Niger Delta Region.
Pastor Usani advised that government agencies, stakeholders and development partners in the Niger Delta Region should always carry along benefiting communities of projects for them to have a sense of belonging in the developmental efforts.
The minister disclosed at the event that President Muhammadu Buhari has given approval for the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to supervise the activities and programmes of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
In his remark at the event, the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Prof. Claudius Omoleye Daramola commended the consultant of the project, Prof. Olu Ajakaiye for the survey and stressed the need for such a research to be done periodically in order to appraise how far the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, other government agencies, stakeholders and development partners have done in the provision of social and infrastructural facilities for the people of the Niger Delta Region.
In a goodwill message at the event, the Statistician General of the Federation, Dr. Yemi Kale, who was represented by Alesanmi Folorunso said that the report will bring to the limelight some of the hidden truths about the Niger Delta Region which have been buried in political bias and tribal sentiments.
He noted that statistics are numerical facts that cannot be controverted. He added that without valid statistics we cannot make well-informed decisions that will catalyse social and economic development as well as plan for the future generations of the Niger Delta Region.
Dr. Kale noted that a validation workshop of this nature affords relevant stakeholders the avenue to make valid inputs in the process of data production so that when the final report is produced, it will receive the acceptability of all.
Prof. Olu Ajakaiye while presenting an overview of the baseline survey of the social and infrastructural resource base in the Niger Delta Region disclosed that the survey focused on: Education- Primary/Secondary schools; Health- Primary/ Secondary facilities; Water and Sanitation; Transport- Road, Air, Water/Maritime; Power.
According to Prof. Ajakaiye the outcome of the survey included the following: the Niger Delta Region is relatively under-served with respect to key social and infrastructural facilities such as functional primary and secondary schools, health facilities, water and sanitation, transportation, power supply; there is a clear need for massive increase in the stock of social and infrastructural facilities in the region; the existing stuck of social and infrastructural facilities should be made more functional with quality services; electricity distribution facilities were indicated to be available in most of the states of the region but they are not quite functional and the electricity users are generally unsatisfied.
Prof. Ajakaiye advised that in order to address the challenges of availability, functionality and low quality of services provided by existing social and infrastructural facilities in the Niger Delta Region, a comprehensive needs assessment survey of all existing educational, water and sanitation, transport and electricity distribution facilities in each of the nine Niger Delta States was required.
Participants at the workshop were from the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the United Nations Development Program, the National Bureau of Statistics, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers States, the Consulting firm for the survey.
It was noted that there was a need to do a baseline survey on the housing needs of the people of the Niger Delta Region in future in order to address that challenge.
Participants from the states raised some issues on the findings of the baseline survey and requested for a period of two weeks for reconciliation of some facts and figures before the final validation of the survey which was granted.
Marshall H. Gundu
Director( Press & Public Relations)
November 6, 2016.