Patriotism and sincerity of character took the center stage over the weekend when the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Umana Umana led the National Council on Niger Delta on a retreat to Uyo.
During the State Banquet in honour of the visiting team from the Niger Delta Council, Mr Umana kept aside the biases of his political inclinations to celebrate Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom state as a focused and committed leader who has transformed Akwa Ibom state.
“Most people don’t want to acknowledge when someone is doing well maybe because they belong to another party, but I want to say that even though I am a member of APC, that my Governor who is a member of the PDP has done very well. I want to say I have seen the evidence and I have examined the script and will give him 90 percent”.
He maintained that he was not surprised that the Governor accepted to host the council retreat at such a short notice, because the Governor is focused on development and does not mix development with politics. I want to say a very big thank you to Akwa Ibom State Governor and the people of Akwa Ibom State for their hospitality.
“When the Governor accepted that Akwa Ibom State was going to host this meeting at a very short notice , I was not surprised because this is one man who focuses on development and doesn’t mix development with politics.
“As Managing Director of the oil and gas free zone authority we collaborated with the Akwa Ibom State Government and Mr President graciously approved the establishment of the largest oil and gas free zones in Nigeria so kudos to the Governor.
“This man loves development and that is why he hosted us. I hope all of us members of the council will leave with very happy memories of Akwa Ibom, development and hospitality”, he insisted.
Mr Umana said that the misconceptions of misusing revenue accruable to State, does not apply in Akwa Ibom as Governor Emmanuel has provided evidences of his accomplishments for all to see.
“People talk of the use and misuse of oil derivation revenues with nothing to show for it, but I am happy our decision to come to Akwa Ibom has opened the eyes many of my colleagues who attended this meeting because I have had testimonies right from the Airport, they told me this state is doing well and so it is good that you have come out to assess and judge by yourselves.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, who is a former Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and had contested against Governor Udom Emmanuel in 2015 at the general elections, however maintained that intervention agencies set up by the federal government are not meant to antagonize or rival the respective state governments, but are geared to complement and work in concert with the state governments.
“I think the idea of establishing this agency and creating the Ministry of Niger Delta and other structures including the amnesty programme, was not so that the agency should be competing with the state government, the idea was collaboration and partnership and therefore it is wrong that the intervention agency will sneak into anybody’s state and claim to be doing projects and the state authorities are not aware.”
“Yesterday when we met his Excellency the Governor, I must thank him for finding time to speak with us, when I called him he agreed he was going to meet with us, his programme was very loaded and he was about commissioning projects, when a Governor is doing well, you know commissioning projects will even become a project, his assessment of NDDC was harsh.
“I don’t think it was like that but it is expected to be very harsh. NDDC maybe will come into the state and will not report what they are doing, maybe not sharing information with the state Government, we are going to publish a Compendium of completed projects in all of Niger Delta states and that Compendium will be made available to all the State Stakeholders.
“This is in a bid to promoting transparency and accountability moving forward, because if people don’t have information about what you are doing then they can as well say you have done nothing and they will be right”, Umana enthused.
He furthered that, “the intervention agency that was step up by law to support the developmental initiatives of this region through partnership. When we mention the Niger Delta Development Commission, people across board have made their assessment some places there have been dividends, some places they have been exceptions.
“Therefore I have directed that they should take stock, and document the achievements and secondly I also believe we should have a different strategy to the development of the Niger Delta region”.
He also hinted on the need to embark on serious regional projects insisting that, “all the projects are tangible, so we should also look at serious regional projects serious core infrastructure, interstate roads, and this is what we are committed to doing, moving forward.
Governor Emmanuel had earlier in a courtesy call on him by the team, given the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs a pat on the back for the new structure of development proposed for the region which seeks partnership and collaboration with governors of the Niger Delta Region.
The Governor who identified partnership with NDDC as a critical success factor in the development of the region, pointed out that without the Niger Delta Development Commission working hand in gloves with governments of the Niger Delta Region, projects executed by the commission may not address the peculiar needs of the people
Commending the Minister, Niger Delta Affairs for his unwavering commitment towards state building over the years, Governor Emmanuel, described Obong Umana as an eminent son of Akwa Ibom State who has made invaluable contributions in the state, leaving imprints of achievements wherever he is assigned responsibilities.
The Minister who was accompanied by Minister of State, Niger Delta Affairs, Sharon Ikeazor, Administrator of NDDC Effiong Akwa, and other officials of NDDC, were in the State for the National Council of Niger Delta (NCND) retreat organized by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the NDDC.