By Chijioke Okoronkwo
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, had a closed-door meeting with governors of the nine oil producing states.
The nine oil producing states are Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Edo, Abia, Imo and Ondo.
Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, who spoke with State House correspondents after the meeting, said a major issue discussed with the president was the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
He expressed optimism that the president would address the concerns raised by the governors about developments in the commission.
“Today, I came here with my colleagues — governors of the oil producing states; states that make up the Niger Delta.
“We came to have interactions with the president and senior officials of his government on our concerns about developments in the Niger Delta.
“We also discussed fears and what we know is going on in the NDDC which is a critical agency,” he said.
He said that the governors were delighted with the president’s understanding of the challenges and the issues in the commission and had promised to address them.
Dickson said that the concerns had to do with stability, security and development.
“That is a broad spectrum; we had a robust discussion and the president fully understands, from his experience, the cost of development and the peculiar challenges that come with being an oil producing region.
“He has promised to look into it and take steps regarding some of the observations that we came to make which he and his team, the Niger Delta Ministry, are on top of.
“So, more or less, we had a meeting of minds; we compared notes and all agreed on the challenges we all need to work together to address,’’ he added.
On the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa, Dickson said he was looking forward to a fair and peaceful poll.
He said that Bayelsa was known for restiveness and militancy prior to his becoming governor in 2012, but that the narrative had changed.
The governor said that his collaboration with security agencies, community and opinion leaders as well as all strata of the people and leaders had brought stability to the state.
Dickson said he was hopeful that his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), would win the election as it was the largest and most formidable party in the state.
On security, he said that Bayelsa was one of the most stable states in the Niger Delta and could also pass for the most stable and peaceful state in Nigeria.
“So, we are concerned about maintaining the current momentum of stability which is a necessary pre-condition for any kind of development.
“Talking about development in all spheres, you know that I and my team in Bayelsa State, in the last eight years ,have advanced the frontiers of development in all sectors.
“In education, in healthcare, in critical infrastructure, in that tough and difficult terrain, everybody is happy about developments.
“So, my call back home to all politicians, parties and all institutions of government, particularly the INEC and the security agencies, is that all hands must be on deck.
“We have very unfortunate instances where in election, you see unnecessary violence, carnage, brigandage, maiming and displacement of people.
“In Bayelsa, we have Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) you guys don’t know about; you don’t talk much about it,’’ he said.
He said that politics was about management of dissent, management of conflicting interests and sometimes, management of ego.