by Stanley Azuakola
The minister of Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe, is on a five-day tour of the Niger Delta states to present copies of the Niger Delta Action Plan to the governors of the states, as well as intimate them on the forthcoming National Council of Niger Delta Conference which comes up from 21st to 26th April 2013.
However, you would not know about any of this by visiting the Ministry of Niger Delta website, which was last updated with news on February 8th, almost 50 days ago, even though the site claims to be “the most comprehensive online source of information on and around Niger Delta region.”
Anyway, one of the big questions concerning Orubebe’s tour was whether he was going to visit Rivers state, and if he did, whether the governor of the state, Rotimi Amaechi would welcome him. The duo were involved in a well-publicised verbal joust in January 2013, a batlle which arose from Amaechi’s criticism of the minister’s performance especially as regards completing the East West road.
It gradually degenerated from that to a full blown war over the 2015 elections with Orubebe describing Rivers as a ‘slum’ and accusing the governor of offering bribes and disrespecting President Jonathan.
On Wednesday however, the minister showed up in Rivers state, and was warmly received by the governor. No mention was made of their previous spat. In fact, Amaechi declared a new position which was clearly at odds with the one he held in January.
In January, Amaechi said this about Orubebe and his stewardship in the federal cabinet:
“Minister Orubebe’s imprudent and reckless attacks on the person of Governor Amaechi is a dubious but obvious attempt by the minister to divert attention from his abysmal failure to deliver on the East- West road. This callous attempt to drag the President’s name into it is what is most disrespectful and irresponsible.
“I challenge Minister Orubebe to show the world projects he started and completed in the Niger-Delta as Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs. I challenge Minister Orubebe to show the world one project he started and completed in Rivers State with the huge resources allocated to his ministry,” he said.
But in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, Amaechi congratulated the minister for his “transformative approach towards fast tracking rapid development in the Niger Delta.”
Gov. Amaechi did not exactly state what has changed in the last two months that has converted Orubebe from an “incompetent” to a “transformative” leader.
Amaechi said the Action plan could be a signature plan. He charged the minister to be proactive as this is the chance the Niger Delta has to rapidly develop, or else it will be a case of “Physician heal yourself.”
On his part, the minister stressed on the need for collaboration and partnership. He said that the Niger Delta Action Plan would act as framework for the development of the region.
“We were in Cross Rivers State, Akwa Ibom State and Imo State before coming to Rivers State. As I go round, I see the feelings of the governors of the Niger Delta and their people.
“I quickly understand. Judging from the history of the Niger Delta; we are talking about from 1957 till date. Our visit today is to hand over the Niger Delta Action plan to you and to appeal that you work together with us as a team to do those things that should be done for our people and Nigerians generally.”