A proposal for justice, peace & development of Niger Delta
By Yahaya Ndu
It is a fact that no one can rightly deny that Nigeria as a nation has reaped trillions of dollars from crude oil and gas in the Niger Delta and that there is little or nothing to show for it in the region.
Justice is imperative for peace and peace is imperative for development, so we the undersigned on behalf of ourselves, our organizations and other Nigerians who are committed to justice, peace and development implore the government and good people of Nigeria to show appreciation to the Niger Delta for the enormous revenue that Nigeria has derived from the region all through the decades with the attendant pollution of the environment for which the people of the Niger Delta have suffered untold hardships and deprivation.
We further appeal that Nigeria in the spirit of fairness, justice and brotherhood, do the needful for the Niger Delta.
For instance, electric vehicles (EVs) could make up nearly half the fleet of passenger cars and trucks by 2040.
As EVs take market share from international combustion engines cars ,demand for oil may decline.
Oil prices will face further decline as EVs continue to take market share. At some point naturally, national governments will begin to put phase-out deadlines on gasoline-powered vehicles, which will naturally accelerate EVs adoption further.
Coupled with shale oil whose production is being accelerated in many parts of the world, especially in the United States of America, head or tail, economies that are reliant on oil are frantically making preparations for the rainy days which from all indications, are fast approaching.
Tourism: The appropriate alternative to oil for Niger Delta economy
In many oil producing nations of the world, alternative industries are being developed to sustain the economy or to compliment oil in sustaining the economy.
The Niger Delta Region of Nigeria has been host to over 90% of the oil production and though it is being estimated that in a few decades’ time, the oil will be exhausted, while there is no visible alternative industry being established to sustain the economy with the people of the Niger Delta region being the ultimate losers when the oil is eventually exhausted.
By the time the oil of the Niger Delta region will be exhausted or under-demanded, clearly, the political parties and actors in the region and the nation may not be those in charge, rather it is the traditional institutions that have been with the people from time immemorial would most probably still be in place.
It is therefore the considered responsibility of the traditional institutions to lead the people of Nigeria in general and the people of the Niger Delta in particular to demand for the establishment of alternative industries to sustain the economy of the zone after oil.
Clearly, as is the practice among the overwhelming other oil producing nations of the world, the direction of the alternative industry establishment should be tourism and agriculture.
A total of $30.82 billion was spent in 2018 by overnight international visitors in Dubai, a 3.8% increase over 2017 ($29.70 billion).
This makes Dubai the city which brings in the most tourist dollars worldwide, with Mecca coming second at $20.09 billion. On the average, a visitor spends $553 a day.
In 2017, the Saudi Arabian tourism sector attracted investment of SAR 172 billion ( USD $28.6 billion), which was six times the world average in tourism capital investments.
Investments were expected to rise by 9.8% in 2017 and 5.5% pa to SAR 200 billion (USD$54 billion).
27th of September every year is commemorated by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as World Tourism Day.
The theme of this year’s World Tourism Day is “Tourism and Rural Development”. This is because of the tremendous impact that tourism has on rural development.
Rural Development is something that is drastically needed in the Niger Delta region generally; which means that certainly, tourism development should be extremely welcome in the region.
Incidentally the World Tourism Day that the world celebrates every year is interestingly an idea that was conceived by a Niger Deltan from Delta State to be precise. His name was Mr. Ignatius Atigbi.
Tourists are specially attracted towards coastal and island areas because of the simple fact that there they get the peaceful atmosphere as well as the clean and green environment.
There, they get relaxation to go away from their normal everyday hectic schedule.
The Niger Delta is awash with coasts and islands.
The topography of the Niger Delta region is naturally excellent for tourism. Most of the Niger Delta region, especially the rural areas, have almost the same look as the State of Florida in the United States.
The money visitors spend in Florida supports many businesses, amounting to over $40 billion each year.
Tourism is the natural industry for the Niger Delta as the alternative to oil. The federal government of Nigeria should therefore invest massively in the Niger Delta tourism industry and make the region the tourism capital of the African continent.
That would be the appropriate way to appreciate the enormous revenue that Nigeria has benefited from the Niger Delta oil and resources, from which not only was Abuja, the federal capital built, but also from which virtually all states and local government councils in the country have been run from 1970 up till now.
Of course, there is also a serious challenge to tourism in the Niger Delta, most prominent amongst which is issue of security.
However, there can be no question that where the youth of the region are managed to understand the tremendous benefits that they stand to gain from tourism development and are made full stakeholders in the tourist economy so much so that revenue from the industry gets to them too, security challenges of the zone can be radically mitigated if not totally eradicated.
The way forward
Moving forward the following steps are suggested:
- His Majesty King Edmund Daukoru in his capacity as the Chairman of the traditional rulers of the Niger Delta should interface with the Royal fathers across the Niger Delta to convene a “Conference on Alternatives to the Oil Industry in the Niger Delta”.
- Participants at the proposed conference should be:
- All governors of the zone, past and present.
- The management of the NDDC.
- The Minister for Niger Delta Affairs.
- All major youth organizations in the Niger Delta.
- The World Tourism Organization.
- The Presidency.
- Group Managing Director of the NNPC.
- DG of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC)
- FTAN Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN)
- Minister for Finance and Economic Planning.
- Ambassadors of developed tourism nations.
- The World Bank.
- Governor of the CBN.
- Chief Executives of all banks.
- CEPTAC – Centre for the promotion of Tourism,Arts and Culture in Nigeria.
- Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria ATPN.
- Leadership of women organizations in the Niger Delta.
- All universities in Nigeria offering Hospitality and Tourism
- All Senators past and present from the Niger Delta.
- All members of the Federal House of Representatives past and present from the Niger Delta.
- President of the World Tourism Organization.
- Minister for Information and Culture
- All local government council Chairmen from the Niger Delta.
Objectives of the zonal conference
- For the Federal Government to commit itself and resolve to develop the Niger Delta Region to become the Tourism heaven of Africa.
- For the Federal Government to resolve and to set all necessary machinery in motion to develop the tourism industry in the Niger Delta to become the alternative industry for the region after oil and gas.
- For the youths of the Niger Delta to resolve to totally abandon all forms of criminality and to take a firm resolve to make the region completely safe and secure for the tourism industry and for tourists in realization that tourism development and insecurity are mutually exclusive.
- For the NDDC to resolve to commit itself to development of all necessary tourism infrastructure in the Niger Delta region with the capacity to take care of a minimum of twenty million international tourists annually.
- For the Federal Government, and all the state Governments of the Niger Delta region to resolve to and to put all necessary machinery in motion in partnership with the promoters working for the establishment of the African Cultural Renaissance City in the Niger Delta region with the capacity of attracting a minimum of ten million international tourists annually.
- For the NDDC, the Ministry of Niger Delta, all the state Governments of the Niger Delta region to resolve to identify, develop, promote and market the culture and tourism potentials, attractions and endowments of all the local government areas of the Niger Delta.
In conclusion, the Niger Delta Region has the potential of earning between $100 and $300 billion dollars from tourism annually from tourism alone.
The tourism Industry is a catalyst industry that will automatically inspire massive development of agricultural, travel and other allied industries.
The employment generating capacity of the industry is such that after absorbing all the youths of the region in gainful employment will further require more labour to be employed from other parts of Nigeria and Africa.
Tourism is by all standards the appropriate alternative industry to take care of the Niger Delta regional Economy after oil
Alhaji Yahaya Ndu
President, Peoples Movement for a New Nigeria (PMNN)