Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, on Thursday, launched the Strategic Implementation Work Plan (SIWP) on the Niger Delta, declaring that things are getting better in the region.
SIWP, according to the minister, is part of the effort, as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, at repositioning process to meet the needs of the people of the region.
Akpabio, as contained in a statement by his media aide, Jackson Udom, launched the plan and also inaugurated the Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee of SIWP.
Akpabio said: “It is my honour and privilege to officially present and launch the Strategic Implementation Work Plan for adoption and deployment as a coordinating tool for tracking all planned and budgeted projects and programs of organisations (both public and private) operating in the Niger Delta Region.
“One of the critical instruments we identified to trigger the anticipated change in the Region is the Strategic Implementation Work Plan (SIWP). It is not a new initiative in the Niger Delta Region.
“It emerged as a result of concerted and several high-level political engagements by the Federal Government with key stakeholders of the of the region in 2016, designed to coordinate all development interventions of both government agencies and private organisations operating in the Niger Delta Region.”
The former Senate Minority Leader listed the benefits of SIWP to include, but not limited to “bringing to an end to the era of project duplication and multiplication by agencies of government in the region.
“The SIWP e-portal, a web-based monitoring system allows you to view projects being carried out in the region by both the public and private organisations.
“The potential benefits of SIWP is enormous for the Niger Delta Region and this is expected to become more visible and effective when the projects and programmes of the other critical stakeholders in the region are uploaded and all respective efforts are able to be tracked using the e-portal.”
The former governor of Akwa Ibom State listed the task before the committee to include, review and update the Strategic Implementation Work Plan and support in the technical coordination and planning for the implementation of development projects in the region.
This, he said, are encapsulated in the SIWP document and to liase with technical departments in various ministries and agencies and implement commitments captured in the work plan, among many other things.
Akpabio commended the youths of the region for their peaceful conduct, saying “since the Amnesty Programme was introduced by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and continued under the President Buhari-led administration, we have been having peace in the region.
“The era of pipeline vandalism is gone for good because the youths of the region have embraced peace for development.”
He said the recently signed Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) was part of the commitments and demonstration of many efforts by President Buhari at ensuring that the oil producing communities benefited from whatever is gotten from their land.
“The PIA is to recognise the need for a by-in of the host communities so that they can also partake and take care of their very urgent needs, instead of going to beg the oil companies for some social amenities,” he said.
Akpabio also listed the gains of the Forensic Audit into the activities of the interventionist agency, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
He said “after the completion of the forensic audit, we have started seeing projects completion without awarding fresh contracts.
“We have so far commissioned the NDDC headquarters building, the Police SUP Quarters, while in the next few days, over 1000 bedspace is set to be commissioned by Mr President at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.”
In his welcome address, the Minister of State, Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Omotayo Alasoadura, acknowledged the cooperation of the UK government through Stakeholders Democracy Network (SDN) and Facility for Oil Sector Transformation (FOSTER).
He said: “You will recall that, at the last roundtable discussion on SIWP with stakeholders in March, 2020, I had suggested the need to strengthen the initiative to accommodate and capture projects from more MDAs on the e-portal and continually build on this to accommodate all efforts targeted at developing the region. My initial concern and suggestion has been addressed in the SIWP e-portal being presented today.”