The South-South edition of the federal government’s Town Hall meetings ended in Uyo,the Akwa Ibom State Capital, today with a revelation by Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was yet to allocate oil blocks to anyone since coming to power in May last year.
The minister also said that he had reached out to the Niger Delta Avengers on the need to stop the destruction of oil installations in the region.
Kachikwu made the disclosure while answering questions from the audience after all the ministers present had given their speeches.
Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transport, also said the federal government would soon commence the revival of old railway lines and construction of new ones, adding that the Lagos-Calabar rail line is one of those to be constructed.
Kachikwu said over N7 billion has been invested by the federal government in the oil and gas sector with a large part of it located in Akwa Ibom State.
He urged militants blowing up oil installations to desist from destroying the environment, stressing that “there is no where in the world where violence has solved any problem.”
He said President Buhari was yet to allocate oil block to anybody because he was more interested in “clearing the mess.”
The town hall meeting is an initiative of the federal ministry of information and culture under the leadership of the Minister, Lai Mohammed.
Ministers of Budget and Economic Planning, Udoma Udo-Udoma, Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Usani and that of Environment, Amina Mohammed also took turns to address the audience on steps taken so far by the federal government to put Nigeria back on the path of growth and progress.
Udo-Udoma said the current economic challenge in the country could partly be attributed to the decline in crude oil prices which is the major revenue earner for the country and also the disruptions in oil production which makes it impossible to reach the production target. He however added that the 2016 Budget, if fully implemented, will bring progress to Nigeria and Nigerians.
Kachikwu said his ministry has done a lot within the period in review, including the restructuring of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
Also his ministry has started publishing a monthly report which shows all its activities in the month in order to enhance transparency and accountability.
On the issue of subsidy, Kachikwu said, “We’ve taken on the issue of fuel subsidy which was plagued with so much fraud, was costing the government about N1.4 trillion every year, we’ve managed to remove fuel subsidy from Nigerian space.”
He said the greatest feat the ministry has recorded so far is the deregulation of the petroleum sector which has made it possible for more people to import petroleum products after going through the legal processes. He said this has led to competition in the sector and will eventually bring down the price of petroleum products in the country.
He however said gas flaring was still a major challenge.
Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed said the federal government was partnering with the international community to tackle desertification, coastal erosion and floods.
“We have to protect our world,” she said, “Without it, we would not survive; without us, the environment will survive and so we have to talk about the issues of pollution and sanitation.”
The minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Usani, said government has entered training agreements with various European institutions, including United Kingdom in order to train the youths from the Niger delta region.
He urged the youths of the region to eschew violence and destruction of oil installations as that would only worsen the level of environmental degradation in the area thereby making life more difficult for the people.
The south-south edition of the town hall meeting is the fourth in the series after similar exercises in Lagos on April 25, Kaduna, May 10 and Kano, May 25.