Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, on Tuesday, said that his government was able to halt hostilities and militancy in coastal communities in the state through infrastructural transformation and youth empowerment.
The governor, who spoke in a live programme via Skype, said that the solution to hostilities in the Niger Delta remained the provision of infrastructure and youth empowerment.
Mr Okowa said that the provision of basic amenities, such as roads, bridges and other infrastructure, stemmed the hitherto incessant hostilities in the riverine communities of the state.
He recalled that on assumption of office in 2015, when the country was undergoing recession, coupled with security challenges in oil-producing communities, he braved the odds by embarking on projects with direct bearing on the lives of the people.
Mr Okowa said that a committee, headed by the Deputy Governor, Kingsley Otuaro, brokered a peace that brought the attacks on national assets, like oil pipelines, to a halt.
The governor said that what the coastal communities lacked previously was infrastructural development.
Mr Okowa assured that more projects would be executed within the limit of funds available to the state government for development.
“We have been in good communication with our people; we engage all stakeholders and ensure that they understand the need for us to give peace a chance.
“As at today, a lot of our youths have been engaged in intelligence work and in other aspects of governance, while some of them are also being trained.
“They are beginning to see a lot of things from proper perspectives and they are happy about it.
“Secondly, we have done a lot of construction of infrastructure in the various riverside areas, which have enabled them to buy into our programmes on peace.
“A lot of roads have been constructed in various areas like Okerenkoko, Oporoza, Burutu and Ogulaha; these are all oil-producing communities.
“In Ogidigben, we are also doing road construction and these are things they never saw before, and because they saw development being brought into their places, they began to see the need to cooperate with government to ensure peace and for more development to take place.
“The deputy governor led a stakeholders’ committee to engage the people and we also have the advisory committee of the state, made up of very prominent members in the state.
”They all did great jobs as opinion leaders, engaging the people,” Mr Okowa said.
The governor added that traditional rulers and various youth formations had also been engaged, adding that this had helped a lot.
”More importantly, our people have begun to see that it is possible to bring development to their areas.
“When they start to see it, then there will be no need to continue with disruption of oil facilities; the whole thing was going on before because the people felt neglected, even when they were producing the oil.
“There is no neglect at the moment, as they are seeing a lot of infrastructural developments,” he said.
On the judicial and legislative autonomy, Mr Okowa hailed the executive order recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying that it had long become a law in the state.