By Uche Onwuchekwa (Special Assistant to the Deputy Governor on Media)

The Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha has flagged-off 2016 edition of Niger Delta Development Forum two day forum open, holding in New Concorde Hotel, Owerri, Imo State, while urging on the youth of the region to jettison militancy to save the region from economic stagnation.

Welcoming the participants to the annual forum organised by "Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta founded by Chevron in 2010, its partners, representatives of Niger Delta States, Prince Madumere described Imo as a State known for its resourcefulness and peaceful disposition.

He stated that the State major industry is capacity building through education, which he said the people are benefiting from the power and influence education offers. He praised Governor Okorocha for his practical effort in offering free dand qualitative education to all the students and pupils of this great State, which he said five years running.

Speaking on the Niger Delta Development forum, his words; "Niger Delta Development Forum has remained a veritable platform where development strategies are marshalled-out towards fostering economic corporation among the people of Niger Delta region since its foundation by Chevron in 2010. The forum avails us the opportunity for information sharing and collaborative proceeding that also help to enlighten the participants the unique local context of pursuing development initiatives in the Niger Delta."

He averred that 2016 edition is not only timely but will look into designing a model that will not only spark-off a pragmatic approach towards addressing issues that affect the region, especially the economic melt-down, which he said is occasioned by the global fall in oil price and internal security challenges.

He said that Niger Delta region seeks a partnership will create a sustainable economy and create employment for its teeming youth. He however voted for a total shift from the old ways in the oil producing communities, which he described as borehole welfare and skill acquisition leaving the environment unfriendly. He therefore called for re-focus in the area of power generation and infrastructures that will aide economic development, which he called a mutually partnership.

Distinguished guests, let me not go deeply into the main discourse of the day, which boarders on security, conflict mitigation, regional cohesion, climate change and initiatives toward achieving economic diversification in the region. I wish us all a very productive deliberation. On this note, on behalf of my leader, our Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, I hereby declare Niger Delta Development Forum Open to the glory of God.

He called for adoption of Ethiopian Model to resuscitate the productive sector especially manufacturing and building capacity in science and technology. He decried the marginalization of Imo State in particular with no effort in developing its infrastructure to tap into its natural gas deposit, which he said is largest in the sub Saharan region.

While decrying the militancy in the region, he stated that Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha has taking the bull by the horn by brining various militant groups together and collaborated with the security agencies for disarmament. He also stated that a process has begun as rehabilitation is also part of the government programme. He also called on other youth to totally jettison militancy, stressing that it is counterproductive to the expected economic development in the region.

Earlier in his speech, the Executive Director of Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND), Mr. Sam Daibo hinted the Organisation has already marshaled out four mutually reinforcing programmes comprising; economic development, capacity building, and analysis and advocacy as part of the measures to foster peace and tranquility in the Niger Delta region.

According to him PIND and USAID co-funded the strengthen Advocacy for Aid engagement project and started the NTALKNDI'S initiative that tracked Niger Delta institutions responsible for delivering services and produced a report titled ; citizen report card on the Niger Delta Institutions. He added that the result of the findings has begun a general online conversation on accountability, good governance and leadership in the region that could only result in sustained Socio-economic growth.

Uche Onwuchekwa
Special Assistant to the Deputy Governor on Media

R-L: His Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere, the Executive Director of PIND, Mr. Sam Daibo and Hon. Member of Imo State House of Assembly, Hon. Chinedu Offor during Niger Delta Development Forum in New Concorde Hotel, Owerri, Imo State

Imo Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere having a chart with the Exec. director of PIND, Mr. Sam Daibo as Nollywood legend, Hilda Dokubo smiles in admiration during NDDF in New Concorde Hotel, Owerri, Imo State earlier today

Imo Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere flanked by development partners to PIND after a tea break meeting at the ongoing NDDF in Owerri, Imo State