100 days since President Yar’Adua became president of Nigeria !

A few questions from the press and lessons learned.

President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua of Nigeria just completed 100 days in office. He faced journalists on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and answered a few questions. While there were many questions of interest, we selected a few that related to the Niger Delta region.

As a background, the Niger Delta region of Nigeria is an oil-producing region whose inhabitants claim to have not benefited from oil generated revenues. Citizens took matters in their own hand and started an armed group that took a few hostages from workers operating in the area. Asked about that particular issue, President Yar’Adua stated that his government examined the Niger Delta Development Plan. If implemented, this plan appears to be quite sufficient to remedy the ills caused by lack of development in the region. He further stated that the development plan would go a long toward settling the political instability.

Accordingly, the Niger Delta problem needs to be addressed from two distinct angles : political instability and lack of development. These two problems are intertwined and President Yar’Adua exhorted his countrymen to unite in finding solutions to the problems In terms of political instability, also linked to militancy, President Yar’Adua stated that his government tried to identify and reach out to actual militant leaders. He succeeded in that effort and is trying to set up a permanent dialogue that will produce a framework for a solution. It is encouraging to note that this attempt has resulted in the suspension of hostage taking. Through dialogue, these combined efforts « will generate hope to the region. »

With respect to the development angle, President Yar’Adua stated that his government « will put in sufficient resources to make a tremendous difference in the Niger Delta region. » Some of these efforts go toward the restructuring of the oil sector to be responsive to local needs.

Regarding the administrative efforts, President Yar’Adua called on the combined efforts from local, state, and federal governments to joint efforts to determine the needs and combine their efforts to solve the problem. He said that « we need a united approach to attack the problem. A clear road map will be effective for the holistic development of the Niger Delta region. It will give the total economic transformation of the region. »

These efforts, if deployed to the fullest extent possible, would go a long way toward establishing solid framework for the management and equitable distribution of resources making it likely to solve local, regional and national problems. Applying the rule of law to curb corruption and mismanagement would go a long way toward making Nigeria a respected giant. This image could have a rippling effect on neighboring countries.

Dr. Djimé Adoum

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