Nigeria: Ministry plans to spare-head development of Blue Economy Strategic Framework for Niger Delta

MINA Blog- Nigeria’s Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has offered to spare-head the development of Blue Economy Strategic Framework for Niger Delta Region in collaboration with other stakeholders in the sub-sector.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Omotayo Alasoadura who made the pledge at the Nigeria Blue Economy Stakeholders Conference organised by Alfe City Institution at the BWC Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, from 15th – 17th February, 2022 said that for Nigeria to adequately prepare for a future of Blue Economy and to tap into the wealth and opportunities it provides, the country must urgently utilise the potential resources of the oceans, seas, rivers and lakes for the socio-economic emancipation and sustainable development of the region.

In his presentation titled ‘How the Federal Government can best assist in preparing the Niger Delta region for future Nigeria economy that will be less reliant on fossil fuel’, he said, “This initiative is being considered to be on the front burner.”

The blue economy valued at over $24 trillion globally with capacity to generate at least $2.5 trillion each year has diverse components, including established traditional ocean industries such as fisheries, tourism, and maritime transport, but also new and emerging activities, such as offshore renewable energy, aquaculture, seabed extractive activities, and marine biotechnology and bioprospecting.

The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs was created in September 2008 to serve as a primary vehicle for the execution of Government policies, plans and programmes for the rapid socio-economic development of the Niger Delta Region. Also, the Ministry formulates policies and execute plans, programmes and other initiatives as well as coordinates the activities of other Agencies, Communities, Donors and relevant Stakeholders involved in the development of the region.

Sen. Alasoadura who was represented at the forum by Barrister Nkechi Nnorom, Head Commerce and Small Business said the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs “will also initiate a stakeholders’ forum in the region, to highlight on the benefits of the blue economy concept, for effective buy-in; bring together all actors working in the Region for the formulation of the necessary legal backing to the concept; and vigorously implement the policy, fairly and squarely, for the benefit of the Niger Delta, in particular, and the country at large.”

He commended the organizers of the Nigeria Blue Economy Stakeholders Conference for “the auspicious event, particularly at this period when efforts are being made by the government towards the diversification of the economy to be less reliant on fossil fuel.”

Speaking on the history of the Delta Region of Nigeria, generally referred to as “The Niger Delta”, he said it “consists of the oil and gas producing States on the coastal area of Nigeria and the adjoining oil and gas bearing States. Essentially, the Region is made up of nine states; namely, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers States. It occupies an area of about 75,000 km2 and has a coastline spread of 540 km. Presently, over 95% of all the oil and gas activities in Nigeria takes place in the Niger Delta. According to the World Bank report of 2020,the Region contributes over 80% of Nigeria’s revenue and accounts for about 95% of the nation’s foreign exchange earnings.

“Prior to the discovery of oil, the Region was well endowed with some natural resources, which provides foreign exchange earnings to the Country. These resources include oil palm, rubber, cocoa and timber, as cash crops; and yams, rice, plantain, banana, cassava, as food crops. However, the exploration and exploitation of oil brought about stagnation to the development of agriculture in the Region. This has also, negatively impacted on the coastal and environmental areas of the Region, through environmental devastation, degradation and pollution, with the resultant effects of gross decline in both flora and fauna life. In essence, the witnessed economic growth in the Region, does not translate into correspondent improvement in the living conditions of the people. Hence, the Region has become noted for high unemployment, restiveness, disenchantments and militancy among other vices.

“Oil has been a cornerstone of the current energy system in Nigeria. Even with climate change, high price volatility and a long history of social and environmental concerns, crude oil still accounted for about 32% of the global energy mix before the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to remain strong for at least a few decades. Despite much scholarship on the ‘resource curse,’ which underscores the paradoxical (and potentially negative) effects of resource endowment on economic development, there is still some expectation that oil wealth can translate into broad-based development. This expectation is particularly high among communities located near oil development infrastructure, who hope to benefit from revenues, jobs, compensation payments, or other ‘trickle down’ effects to improve their economic well-being. Yet, much of the existing researches indicates that coastal communities remain on the fringes of these developmental prospects; bearing many costs without receiving many benefits due to lack of skills, limiting job access and environmental consequences.

“Consequent upon the above, Nigeria, whose source of revenue is heavily dependent on oil sector, may now need to set realistic goals towards diversification. This implies that the nation needs to do more towards ensuring that it meets the target, especially as the country’s economy is heavily dependent on revenue from fossil fuel.”

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