Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta said panacea for hostilities in coastal communities in Niger Delta were infrastructural transformation and youth empowerment.
Okowa disclosed this while speaking via Skype on “Your View’’, a live programme on TVC, which was monitored in Asaba, and said that provision of basic amenities like roads, bridges and other infrastructure stemmed incessant hostilities in the riverside communities of Delta.
He recalled that he assumed office in 2015 when the nation was in recession, coupled with security challenges in oil-bearing communities but that he braved the odds by embarking on projects with direct bearing on the lives of the people.
He said that a committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Mr Kingsley Otuaro brokered peace that brought the attacks on national assets like oil pipelines, to a halt.
The governor said that what the coastal communities lacked previously was infrastructural development, and that his administration took the bull by-the-horn by embarking on projects like bridges, roads, schools, health centers, among others which had direct impact on the lives of citizens.
He assured that more of such projects would be done within the limit of funds available to the state government for development.
“We have been in good communication with our people; we engage all stakeholders and ensure that they understand the need for us to give peace a chance. As at today, a lot of our youths have been engaged in intelligence work and in other aspects of governance and a lot of them are also being trained.
“They are beginning to see a lot of things in the proper direction and they are happy about it.
“Secondly, we have done a lot of construction of infrastructure in the various riverside areas which has enabled them to buy into the programmes of peace that we have. A lot of roads have been constructed in various areas – Okerenkoko, Oporoza, Ogulaha, and these are all oil-producing communities, including Burutu.
“In Ogidigben, we are also doing road construction and these are things they never saw before, and because they saw development brought into their place they began to see the need to cooperate with government to ensure peace for more development to take place.
“The Deputy Governor, Kingsley Otuaro, led a stakeholders’ committee to engage the people and we also have the Advisory Committee of the state made up of very prominent members in the state, they all did a great job as opinion leaders engaging the people.
“We have engaged the traditional rulers and various youth formations and it is helping us quite a lot but very importantly, the people have begun to see that it is possible to bring development to their area.
“When they start to see it, then there would be no need to continue with disruption of oil facilities; the whole thing was going on before because the people felt neglected even when they were producing the oil. There is no neglect at the moment because they are seeing a lot of infrastructure,” he stated
On the Executive Order recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on the autonomy of the Judiciary and Legislature, Okowa lauded it, and disclosed that it had long become law in Delta.
He congratulated Muslim faithful on the successful completion of the one month Ramadan and called on them to use the Eid-el-Fitri to pray for the peace and unity of the country.