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Nigerian Oil Leader: Tackle Economic Inequality

Published: Tue 30 Dec 2008 11:39 AM
AKANIMO SAMPSON,
PORT HARCOURT
Oil Community Leader To Ufot Ekaette: Tackle Economic Inequality
*As Minister Pledges To COMPLETE East-West Highway
NIGERIA's Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Chief Ufot Ekaette has said that he will see to the completion of the East-West Highway, a transregional road project, which he claimed will be one of his priorities in office.
Ekaette, made the pledge while speaking to reporters in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, shortly after holding a closed door meeting with Governor Chibuike Amaechi. But, a prominent community leader from Eket, the oil town of Akwa Ibom State, Maurice Edoho-Eket, said the ordinary people of the oil and gas region are expecting the minister to declare war on economic inequality.
Edoho-Eket who was speaking in a telephone interview with our correspondent yesterday said, ''over 80 per cent of the peoples of the Niger Delta are victims of a very non-populist political regimes with incredibly high economic inequality. The masses of the oil region are of the view that obtaining economic equality must be a non-negotiable goal of the pioneering Ekaette administration at the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs''
Continuing, the Eket community leader said addressing economic inequality ''must'' be a prime issue for the minister along with restoring true democracy at the grassroots level.
However, the minister who is also from the Eket axis of Akwa Ibom said the East-West road was of great importance to the people of the region and Nigerians in general, contending that its completion would boost socio-economic activities in the area.
The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, noted that although contract for the reconstruction of the road has been awarded, actual execution of the project appeared to be very slow, noting that priority must be given to the development of the area, which according to him has suffered age long deprivation.
He observed that there were so many things to be done to let the people appreciate that things are now changing, and called on the people to give the Yar’Adua administration the chance to work creditably.
He assured that he and the Minister of State for the Niger Delta, would work cooperatively to make a difference in the lives of the people of the region, while emphasis would be laid on issues such as unemployment, community development and curbing of militancy to make the environment conducive for development.
He said, it was early to say whether or not the N50 billion allocated to the Niger Delta Region in the 2009 budget was adequate to address the developmental challenges in the area, stressing that as soon as he settled down to work, he would assess the situation and report back to the presidency.
The new Minister said if need arises he would not hesitate to request for supplementary budget approval for the Niger Delta Region, as Mr President is desirous of uplifting the region in his 7-Point Agenda.
ENDS

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