Vice President Yemi Osibanjo has attributed the high level of corruption, dwindling economy and redundant human resource base in Nigeria to the country’s dependence on oil resources.
The vice president said the over-reliance on oil was behind the agitation for resource control, especially from the South-South geo-political zone of the country.
Osibanjo spoke yesterday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, while declaring open the Partners for Sustainable Development (PSD) forum organised by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
He described the theme of the forum: “Restrategising Development Concepts in the Niger Delta Region to Provide for Post-Oil Wealth Socio-economic Sustainability”, as apt considering the current global decline in oil revenue.
The vice president, who was represented by the deputy chief of staff to the president, Mr. Adeola Ipaye, said that the inauguration of the forum was coming at a time when the new globally adopted Sustainable Development Goals was nearing commencement of implementation.
Osibanjo said, “The country’s over-dependence on oil is only the cause of the downturn of the economy for now; it has been responsible for the emergence of redundant human resource base and high level of corruption.
“It is also at the root of agitations for resource control, particularly from the South-South. The theme of the forum could not have been more apt, coming at the time that we have a global decline in oil revenue, especially in a country such as ours that has total dependence on oil for survival.”
The vice president, however, expressed the federal government’s commitment to the development of the Niger Delta region.
He said, “Realising the concept of sustainable development comes with numerous challenges, especially the Niger Delta region that represents the world’s third largest wetlands, with several years of unaddressed oil pollution issues that has hindered agricultural growth of the region as well as affected general health of the populace.”
On the clean-up of Ogoniland, the vice president explained that the federal government had begun the exercise in the area and other seriously affected communities, adding that government was putting measures in place to alleviate the impact of areas already polluted.
He expressed the need to intensify activities in the rural areas with a view to improving socio-economic well-being through agricultural and related rural enterprises, provide access to markets and rural areas by improving road network and value chain development.
According to him, “The current government has already commenced work on the clean-up of the Ogoni area and other seriously affected communities. It will be our primary task to ensure that strategies are put in place to protect the environment as well as apply remediation measures to alleviate impact in areas already polluted.”
Earlier, the managing director of the NDDC, Bassey Dan-Abia, listed poor funding of the commission as one of the challenges facing the intervention agency, even as he maintained that the NDDC should not be seen as an alternate government.
Dan-Abia urged the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company to initiate the process of paying its own contribution to the funding of the commission based on the fact the NLNG fell within the oil and gas producing companies operating within the Niger Delta region.