In what may be seen as a determined effort to avert another round of crisis in the Niger Delta region following the recent threat by one of the militant groups, Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, to resume attacks on oil installations, the federal government Sunday, released plans for the development of the region.
According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, the Federal Government was considering granting thirteen operational licenses for modular refineries in the region.
Akande also listed other plans to improve the living standards of the people, which include increased budgetary allocation to Niger Delta Ministry and the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, take-off of Maritime University in Delta State, commencement of Ogoni clean-up, investments in infrastructure such as the construction of N120.6 billion Bonny-Bodo Road and N1 billion Ibaka deep sea port.
Other plans he listed were: approval for establishment of export processing zone in Delta State and increased allocation for presidential amnesty programme.
The presidential spokesman further gave details of budgetary allocations for the region's programme in 2018, such as N71.20 billion allocation in the 2018 budget to Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), N65 billion for amnesty programme and N53.89 billion allocated in the 2018 budget for the Ministry of Niger Delta, up from the N34.20 billion provided in 2017.
On the Maritime University, he said: "The new Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State, has now commenced operations, inviting job applications for academic staff. President Muhammadu Buhari's administration recently approved an increase in the take-off grant from the N2 billion earlier announced to N5 billion. This sum was included in the 2018 budget presented to the National Assembly earlier this week, under the Federal Ministry of Education allocation.
"Academic activities are expected to start in the University soon following the completion of the hiring process for professors, readers, senior lecturers, lecturers, assistant, assistant lecturers and graduate assistants to teach in the faculties of Science, Maritime Transportation, Maritime Engineering and Technology, Maritime Environmental Management and General Studies.
"The take-off of the Maritime University was one of the major requests tabled before the Federal Government when the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, went on a series of tour to all the Niger Delta states during the year, following President Buhari's meeting with leaders of Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF) last November."
On Ogoni clean-up, he said: "In June 2016, the Buhari administration started the implementation of the 2011 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoniland devastated by decades of oil spills.
"An Inter-Ministerial committee on Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) (under the Federal Ministry of Environment) was established.
"HYPREP has since set up structures in place for the final take off of clean-up and restoration of the region devastated by oil spills. This shows the commitment of the FG to restore the region.
"Eight companies engaged to conduct Demonstration Clean-up Exercises in the 4 Local Government Areas of Ogoni Land, to enable HYPREP select the best and most suitable technology for the remediation work.
"These Demonstrations were recently concluded; the results are being studied by the Governing Council of the Ogoni Clean-up Project.
"HYPREP has also trained 15 indigenous Ogoni scientists on environmental assessment remediation.
"HYPREP assessed existing water facilities in Ogoni land in line with the UNEP recommendation report that potable water be provided for Ogoni following pollution of water sources in region by oil spills.
"Health impact assessment study to be done to ascertain whether there is a link between some disease patterns and oil pollution in the affected communities.
"Bids have been invited for consultancy on provision of water, health study and environmental remediation."
The statement explained that Bonny-Bodo bridge and road project is a public private partnership arrangement jointly funded by the federal government and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) on 50 percent