New Niger Delta plan to follow Canadian and South African models

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The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) in collaboration with some International experts have concluded arrangements to adopt the South African and Canadian models in addressing the economic injustices of the past in Nigeria’s restive Niger Delta region.

According to the privately-owned Vanguard newspaper, the move is to nip in the bud widespread poverty as well as promote sustainable investments aimed at impacting positively on the lives of the people of the region. Just as they are proposing an alternative model that will be adopted from already existing ones that past governments have used.

In a concept paper presented at a national policy dialogue on practical multi-st akeholder approach for sustainable resolution of the host communities, inspired b usiness interruption risk in the Niger Delta region, some of the experts called for a programme whose planning and implementation would be supervised by an independent secretariat.

The dialogue, which was organised Thursday in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal capital city, by the NESG, would achieve a national/multilateral consensus on the need to adopt a multi-stakeholder engagement strategy for equitable management of benefits that are generated from resource-based development.

They are of the opinion that resolutions and recommendations reached at the dialogue would be incorporated into the Presidency’s Niger Delta summit process.

In his presentation, a former Adviser to the Canadian government, Dr. Lois Hooge, advised that if results must be realised against the backdrop of addressing the various challenges of the country with regards to the Niger Delta region, there was the need for the two models to be adopted.

Dr. Hooge is reported to have piloted the successful formulation and implementation of similar risk assessment and management in both Canada and South Africa.

According to her, “one of the key drivers for both programmes was the urgent desire to improve community/investor relationships for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders, such that communities could enjoy tangible and sustained economic benefits from investments in their domain.

Hooge said “This way, the investors have confidence that their investments are protected in an environment where security of life, property and the rule of law a reassured.

“The success of these models has led to their subsequent adoption in several other host countries.”

Also in his contribution, the lead discussant from the Nigerian Economic Summit, Dr. Ikenna Nwosu, stressed the need for the building of trust and mutual respect between all affected parties in the Niger Delta issue.

In the same vein, a non governmental organisation, the Pro-Natural International, Thursday declared that the issue of militancy and violent crimes among youths in the Niger Delta will come to an end if stakeholders adopt alternative means of resolving conflicts in the region.

The group whose activities spanned the states of the Niger Delta, noted that though the issue of new relationship between oil companies and their host communities was based on a model of community participation in development programmes, called on both the federal and state governments to adopt a model that would involve the people and youths in community development programmes from various intervention agencies.

Speaking at an interactive forum in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa state, its Senior Programme Advisor, Godson Jim-Dorgu and the Programme Officer, Inatimi Odio said the model adopted for riverine and oil communities of Bayelsa State had shown that the people of the Niger Delta yearned for an alternative to violent approach to issues of environmental degradation, under development and militarization .

Jim-Dorgu noted that the new model had led to the constitution of development as sociations among the people of Brass, Akassa, Bonny, Oron and Opobo/Nkoro as well as ensure that they approached contentious issues in a way that “it gives room for alternative reasoning, conflict resolution and empowerment, the model preach participation due to acceptance and gender balance.”

According to him, “Some of the problem of militancy, violent attack of flow stations and pipeline vandalisation are caused by the straight reasoning that they would not get justice. But our model has shown that there could be a better alternative. This model also kept aside the politicians interest in promoting violence.

The model enhances communities that perceive themselves as marginalised to appraise their natural and human resources, identify their problems, analyse root causes, seek solutions, consider strategy and drive the process for development.

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