CHAIRMAN of the Governing Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, has identified tourism as a strategy that can quicken the integration of the Niger Delta region and create a regional economy.
He made this known in a statement issued on Sunday by the Director, Corporate Affairs, NDDC, Ibitoye Abosede and made available to the Tribune Online.
Ndoma-Egba, in his keynote speech at the 42ndAnnual General Meeting of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, emphasised the need to harness the rich tourism potentials in the Niger Delta to create a competitive and integrated aviation and tourism template.
The NDDC chairman noted that the region, with its rich ecosystem, mangroves, rivers, tributaries, flora and fauna, had great potentials for tourism, observing that the current board of the NDDC had drawn up strategies to make the region a tourism destination.
He said the new spirit of partnerships being driven by the NDDC board envisaged a working relationship with NANTA, the National Council of Arts and Culture and the Nigerian Tourism Development Commission (NTDC) to add value and convert rich tourism assets into huge industries.
“We must deploy our national endowments to create the much-needed wealth beyond oil which has been more of a curse than the blessing that it should have been to the region.
“I have a dream that someday soon, the Niger Delta region will be peaceful, secure and prosperous and that the young men and women of the region will take full advantage of the new opportunities their environment offer for their betterment,” he said.
Senator Ndoma-Egba said that the NDDC board and management had commenced setting up critical pillars for the creation of an integrated regional economy, adding, “An integrated regional economy will assure economics of scale and make the region more competitive.
“We need to change the narrative of militancy for which the region has become infamous and improve the general security of the region. We must move from militancy of kidnapping and pipeline breaches to a new kind of militancy; militancy for peace, security and development.
“The narrative of the Niger Delta must change from the negatives of kidnapping, pipeline vandalism etc. to a new narrative of peace, security and development. This we can achieve through bold initiatives pursued with the appropriate will and single-minded focus.”
The NDDC chairman observed that the frequent turnover of the NDDC board distorts policy implementation, stating that the biggest casualty had been the Niger Delta Regional Development Masterplan which was launched in 2006.
Rivers State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mrs Tonye Briggs-Oniyide, highlighted the fact that tourism was the second largest industry in the world, adding that the government had a responsibility to formulate and implement policies that would support tourism development.
In his address, NANTA National President, Mr Bankole Bernard, emphasised the nexus between aviation and tourism and acknowledged the appropriateness of the theme of the Annual General Meeting, “The Symbiotic Relationship of Aviation and Tourism: The Key to Economic Sustainability.”
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