From Jefferson Ibiwale, Benin
The Norwegian government has expressed readiness to partner with Nigeria for the development of the Niger Delta region through proper management of its oil resource.
Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Rolf Ree, said on Tuesday in Benin that his government was interested in the development of the Niger Delta region and Nigeria because both countries are important players in the global oil market.
Ree who was giving a keynote address at a workshop organized by the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, said his country has been able to develop using its oil wealth and that with proper management systems, Nigerian can overcome the challenge of underdevelopment.
“We believe that such a transformation is possible in Nigeria where the government and other interest groups work hard to support development initiatives and also where the resources are properly managed in the interest of majority of the people,” he said.
Speaking further, the ambassador said the proposed intervention will also help curb widespread poverty in Nigeria and the Niger-Delta region in particular.
His words: “The Strengthening Oil Revenue Management in Niger Delta Project is a direct response to the wide spread poverty in the Niger Delta through strengthening of institutions of identified stakeholders. We hope that such an intervention will contribute to the needed development in the region and the entire country.”
The, special assistant to the Edo state governor on Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Efosa Kayode-Iyasere, commended the organisers of the workshop, saying that the promotion of Niger Delta region through unprecedented development was something long awaited.
Responding, the executive director of ANEEJ, David Ugolor, said the workshop which is the second phase of the organisation’s project, was aimed at responding to the widespread poverty in the region by strengthening of institutions of the six identified stakeholders which include Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom States.
“The project is also focused on enforcement of law’s aimed at promoting good governance where such law’s exist and advocacy for the enactment of such laws where they do not exist,” Ugolor said.
According to him, the first workshop held in 2009, was able to among other things, put institutions in place to strengthen the governance system of the region.
“We are happy that some of these states have responded. Edo State for instance have procurement law, Delta also has, and in Rivers we have fiscal base, so we can now point to some of these states having these laws in place. For me, it’s a huge success,” he said.
Ugolor, however, noted that it is one thing to enact laws but that the duty of compliance and enforcement rests of the people, urging them to ensure the law works for them.
All states of the Niger Delta region, as well as civil society groups, government parastatals and media organizations were represented at the workshop.