EU Challenges Nigeria On Niger Delta

Published: Mon 23 Nov 2009 09:58 AM
Akanimo Sampson,
Port Harcourt
EU Challenges Nigeria On Niger Delta
THERE are prospects that the European Union (EU) and other key international donor agencies are willing to increase their efforts for the Niger Delta, Nigeria's honey comb that has been an axis of low-intensity war since the late 2005.
But their increased efforts will largely depend on the Federal Government and the authorities of the nine oil-producing states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers.
Head of Rural, Social, Health, Water and Sanitation unit of the European Commission Delegation to Nigeria, Mr. Ramon Granda, who madethis known claimed that international donor agencies are willing to increase their current efforts for the ouil and gas region.
Granda who spoke in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, said Abuja and the governments of the nine oil states have to be more committed to a peaceful settlement and reforming process in order to attract increased efforts for the Niger Delta.
His words: ''The more the Federal and state governments will be committed to a peaceful settlement and reforming process, the more the EU and other donors will be in the position to increase their efforts for the Niger Delta''.
At the moment, the EU is funding a new Micro Projects Programme in the nine oil-producing states tagged MPP9. The programme is worth 45.5 million Euros, some N9.2 billion in the local currency.
Granda and other officials of the European Commission were in Port Harcourt last Saturday, for the state launch of the MPP9 in Rivers and Memorandun of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony with the Rivers State Government. The commission is however, the executive body of the EU
Out of some 1,200 micro-projects being foreseen by the MPP9 in the next three years, around 130 will be implemented in Rivers. Each of the projects will gulp N8.00 million.
According to Granda, ''the programme reflects the interest of the EU for a peaceful development of the Niger Delta, a region in which well-being and stability is crucial, not only for Nigeria but also for the whole region.''
Continuing, he said MPP9 supports better governance and contributes to the eradication of poverty in the oil region. ''The aim of the programme is to encourage reforms and community participation, and to invite local government and state authorities to provide more service delivery in terms of basic infrastructures'', he added.
He also pointed out that the programme is to equally facilitate the creation of income generating activities, promote gender equity and community empowerment.
Analysts say with this purpose, the MPP9 will encourage models of transparency and participation.
Meanwhile, EU had before now funded 279 micro-projects in Rivers at the cost of N830 million. The projects were mainly in the area of income generating activities, water, education, access paths, jetties, transport and health.

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