Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (retd) and the Executive Director Business Development, Nexim bank, Stella Okotete, have proffered solutions to the economic challenges of the Niger Delta region.
The trio spoke in Warri, Delta State, at a one day economic summit with the theme, Restoring Wealth Creation In Niger Delta Region’, organised by the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) for its delegates.
Other speakers, who also reflected on the way out of the region’s poor economic indices, were, a Security Expert, AVM Terry Okorodudu (retd); ex-freedom fighter, High Chief Bibopere Ajube aka Shoot-at-Sight and Business Development coach, Francis Okumagba.
Okotete said while other regions in the country were taking advantage of their resources to create the much needed wealth, people in the Niger Delta, particularly the youths were relying on handouts.
She said with the agricultural resources in the region and the huge talents in the entertainment industry, people should form clusters and build the structures that will make it easier to access funding to begin export trade from institutions like the Nexim bank.
According to Okotete, “Non-oil sector is what is driving the economy of every country and in this region, there are a lot of resources that can be exported. The various governments in the region need to create the enabling environment for more investors to come.
“The government needs to create a balance between economic and infrastructural development. It’s not just enough to build roads, yes, roads are good but they should also build industries.
“We must look at the export space. Export creates massive wealth. We must wake up and look into the future. Nobody will build the Niger Delta for us, it is only we that can do that. Let us start selling our region to the world and create a better future for our children.”
Okowa, who was represented by the Executive Secretary Delta State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Orezi Esievo, called for more private sector involvement in the development of the region, adding that government alone could not do it.
The Governor, who spoke on the importance of SMEs to any economy, said his administration was open to partnership that will ensure sustainable wealth is created for the people of Delta State and the region as a whole.
On his part, AVM Okorodudu (retd), said it was unfortunate that since 2009 when the amnesty programme started, agencies of government like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), had failed to carry out their responsibility of reconstruction.
Okorodudu who commended Dikio’s efforts, noted that funding the training of ex-agitators was an expensive venture, but added that it was sheer waste of resources to train them without employing or engaging them.
On their parts, Senior High Chief Ajube and Okumagba, urged the ex-agitators to be inspired by the stories of successful people and stop allowing their immediate environment distract them from success.
They stressed that youths in the region needed to renew their mindsets and believe in the possibility of becoming great industrialists and entrepreneurs.
In his remark, Dikio, said the summit was aimed at highligting the limitless opportunities readily available within the region to enable the ex-agitators have an idea of how to benefit from it.
“This summit is a test-run of a larger one to come next year that will be all encompassing. Basically, we are here to preach the gospel of shared prosperity. We can talk about how rich and prosperous Niger Delta is but if we don’t do something about it, it will be more wishful thinking”, Dikio said.