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KEEP THE CHAMPAGNE ON ICE

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FRONTLINE ACTIVIST ADVISES NEWLY APPOINTED MINISTER OF NIGER DELTA AFFAIRS, UMANA OKON UMANA

The appointment of Mr. Umana Okon Umana as the substantive Minister of Niger Delta Affairs is a welcome development in the struggle for a better life for the long suffering people of the Niger Delta region. No doubt at this time the freshly minted Honourable Minister would be inundated with congratulatory messages of all shades. Indeed congratulations are very much in order, as Mr. Umana Umana is a seasoned public servant and development oriented humanitarian, who is well deserving of this appointment.

It is however pertinent, to call the Honourable Minister’s attention to the fact that his appointment, coming so late in the life of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, requires that he keeps the celebratory champagne on ice as there is work to be done and little time with which to get it done.

It is no doubt, that Successive administrations have failed the people of the Niger Delta, keeping them perpetually in penury and undignified living conditions.
It is my heartfelt hope that Mr. Umana Umana would put the people of the Niger Delta on the front burner of national conversation, engraving into our national consciousness the fact that oil exploration which funds Nigeria, has cost the Niger delta people their livet and livelihoods as their waters and land keep getting polluted through inhuman practices by the oil companies.

The Niger Delta people 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 meaningful infrastructure with near total absence of government presence in such a critical area to Nigeria’s existential reality.

It is this sad and unfortunate reality which precipitated the Niger Delta agitation that crystallized into the Militancy of the early 2000s, before the administration of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua created the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to warehouse and coordinate the previous interventions created by previous administrations. The Niger Delta Ministry has failed to deliver over the years and it is this state of affairs that Mr. Umana is inheriting and will be expected to improve upon over the next 10months of the current administration.

As I have done over the years, I will continue to call attention to the plight of the people of the Niger Delta demanding for a discernible developmental agenda for the region. The task is enormous and I am by no means suggesting that I expect him to solve them all for good, but no doubt we expect a performance that is a clear departure from the norm in the Ministry. The people of the Niger Delta expect the Honourable Minister to carry out far reaching and sincere reforms of the NDDC and to give greater attention to infrastructural developments.

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