By Fred Itua Abuja
Frontline activist and human rights defender Idris Usman has set out an agenda for the new Niger Delta minister, Umana Okon Umana.
Idris, in a press release made available to journalists on Friday in Abuja, urged the new minister to tackle the issues of poverty and neglect plaguing the Niger Delta region.
He said, “The appointment of Mr. Umana Okon Umana as Minister for Niger Delta Affairs is a welcome development in the fight for a better life for the long-suffering people of the Niger Delta region. There is no doubt that at this time the newly appointed Honorable Minister would be inundated with messages of congratulations of all shades. Indeed, congratulations are in order, as Mr. Umana Umana is a seasoned civil servant and a development-oriented humanitarian, well deserving of this appointment.
“It is, however, pertinent to draw the Honorable Minister’s attention to the fact that his appointment, which came so late in the life of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, demands that he keep the party champagne chilled. because there is work to be done and little time to do it.
“There is no doubt that successive administrations have failed the people of the Niger Delta, keeping them perpetually in misery and substandard living conditions.
I sincerely hope that Mr. Umana Umana will bring the people of the Niger Delta to the forefront of the national conversation, burning into our national consciousness the fact that the oil exploration that funds Nigeria has cost the people of the Niger Delta their lives and their livelihoods. while their waters and lands continue to be polluted by the inhuman practices of the oil companies.
“The people of the Niger Delta have paid with their health and predominant occupation of fishing for Nigerian oil exploration, while they have reaped a polluted environment, poverty and lack of significant infrastructure with near absence total government presence in such a critical area for the existential reality of Nigeria.
“It was this sad and unfortunate reality that precipitated the Niger Delta turmoil that crystallized into militancy in the early 2000s, before the administration of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua created the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to store and coordinate previous interventions created by previous administrations.The Niger Delta Ministry has fallen short over the years and it is from this state of affairs that Mr. Umana inherits and which it is expected to improve over the next 10 months of the current administration.
“As I have done over the years, I will continue to draw attention to the plight of the people of the Niger Delta demanding a discernible development agenda for the region. The task is enormous and I by no means mean that I I expect him to resolve them all in earnest, but we undoubtedly expect a performance that clearly departs from the norm within the ministry.The people of the Niger Delta expect the Honorable Minister to he is carrying out deep and sincere reforms of the NDDC and paying more attention to infrastructural developments.