BY GREAT MADUAWULECHUKWU
Former governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has said that the hostile disposition among Niger Deltans has continued to scare investors and investments away from the region, adding that the much talked about ways of attracting industries to carter for the teeming unemployed youths will remain an illusion until a deliberate effort was made to change the hostile disposition of the people.
Uduaghan who spoke as a guest speaker on Thursday in Asaba, Delta State capital, at the 2021 Annual Lecture of Delta Online Publishers Forum (DOPF), emphasised that industries don’t survive in an unfriendly environment.
Dr. Uduaghan, who spoke on the theme “Niger Delta Economy: Building A New Face For The Region” regretted that inspite of concerted efforts made by succession administrations in the region to attracting investors and investments to the region, much have not been achieved due largely to the hostile attitude on the activity of youths and local politics in the region.
According to him, not until the hostile attitude among the people of the region was addressed, the region will remain unattractive to possible investors and industrialization.
“The Niger Delta region has been so hostile to investors and we cannot have the region industrialized until we change our attitude. We must go back to our communities to plead with them to be friendly to investors.
“We must encourage people to have production facilities. It may not be very large but let’s encourage small industries. We must also encourage big industries to also come by creating enabling environment.
“We need to collaboration between the oil companies, government and the people to encourage infrastructural development in the region”, he said.
Uduaghan, however, lamented that despite the rich natural resources in the region, such resources have not been harness for the betterment of the region and her people.
The former governor while explaining the huge potentials in the region’s marine resources, advocated for the opening up of the seaports in the region so as to create a new economy in Niger Delta.
He urged the federal and state governments to collaborate and revitalize the seaports to open up the region for industrialization.
“Ports are very critical and I think we have the highest numbers of ports in the country. They are very critical for import and export. But unfortunately, many of them are down and the only active one is Warri port.
“Effort to encourage those who bought Koko and Burutu ports has not yielded result and I don’t think those who bought them have the capacity. We have port Harcourt port, Calabar port but the problem of Calabar port is because of its shallowness. The Niger Delta sea Ports are performing sub-optimally”, Uduaghan added.
He reminded journalists especially publishers of online news outlets in the region that they have critical role to play in ensuring “there is sanity in the region.
“Do not forget that ther social media does not forget, so, whatever you put up can either build or destroy the image of the region. Of course, this can affect the economic development of the region.”
On the recent advise by the British Government to her citizens not to visit some states in the region, Dr. Uduaghan said it was not enough to go on the pages of the newspapers to counter the claim that some state are danger zone, rather deliberate steps should be taken to address issues that attracted such advise.