Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday asked the people and investors in the Niger Delta region to make effective use of the proceeds from oil, saying the product may soon become unprofitable.
Osinbajo spoke at the 2nd National Council Meeting on the Niger Delta, in Akure.
Although he noted that Nigeria currently relied on oil for its foreign exchange earnings, the vice president said as nations of the world crave for cleaner alternative sources of energy, it (Nigeria) and indeed the Niger Delta region stood at a disadvantage, unless drastic steps were taken to stem the over-dependence on the product.
According to Osinbajo, the United States of America, which was the largest importer of Nigeria’s oil, had cut down on the amount of crude it imports as it currently seeks alternative energy source.
He said that while Asia was earnestly looking for alternative sources of energy, China and Japan had more electric charging points than fuel stations.
“Many of the countries in Europe have set deadlines for phasing out cars using hydrocarbon,” he said.
He added that the development meant that Nigeria’s crude oil would not be needed in the global market soon.
He said the global threats to Nigeria’s main stay were real, adding that, “the future of oil is in decline.”
The vice president requested the people of the Niger Delta to be prepared to allow for quick development of the region before it becomes too late.
“The future of oil is declining and that is why it is the duty of all stakeholders to exploit all the opportunity now and to ensure that we are not constantly battling with the security of the pipelines.
“We should use the resources to develop other potentials of the region and it is the duty of this council to provide that roadmap for the future. The future that we will not necessarily depend on oil.
“We have no reason why we should not develop all other potentials apart from oil in the region. If we can do this, the full potentials of the region will be fulfilled and our collective vision will be realized,” he said.
He said the blowing up of oil pipelines was no longer fashionable as the rush for crude dwindles across the globe.
In his address, the Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, noted that interventions of the past administrations in the Niger Delta had produced little result and the region still lacked evidence of development.
The governor recounted the long history of development interventions in the oil producing areas, noting that the commendable efforts made by past administrations to transform the economic and physical landscape had yielded positive marginal results.
He noted that there were glaring “facts of grinding and relentless poverty which has been the lot of the region. This is deplorable.”
“Issues of gross infrastructural deficit, security challenges and the general absence of social amenities expected in a modern society remain intractable.
“This region presents a cruel paradox; the entire country depends on it almost entirely for sustenance.
“It, however, lacks evidence of development depicting its status as the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg,” Akeredolu said.
He said the government and people in the Niger Delta region must seize the opportunity offered by the special meeting to ruminate on the methods adopted, which had made insignificant impact in bridging the infrastructural gap.
“It is also incumbent on us to set our priorities right. Embarking on any white elephant projects cannot be in our interest.”
He called for the empowerment of the youth in the region and demanded the strengthening of transparency and accountability in the various interventions in the region.
Akeredolu requested the federal government to grant the state the license for a deep-sea mining port in Ilaje to boost economic activities in the delta region of the state.
“The development of the deep-sea mining port possesses the veritable potential to turn the Niger Delta areas of Ondo State into a hub of investment opportunities,” he said.
“It will assist, greatly, the quest to provide possibilities for infrastructural development of not only the area, but also the state and Nigeria at large.
‘‘It will add value to agricultural products and solid minerals’ development as evacuation of agricultural products and solid minerals can be easily done without stress,” he added.
Osinbajo later travelled to Igbokoda, in the coastal area of the state for further dialogue with agitators and other groups in the region.