Posted by By Austin Ogwuda, Asaba on
Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala believes that the main reason she was moved to the Foreign Affairs ministry was.....
Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala believes that the main reason she was moved to the Foreign Affairs ministry was "to make foreign policy a tool for national development by strengthening our economic diplomacy".
Okonjo-Iweala speaking as a guest lecturer at the 2nd Distinguished Annual Lecture organised by the Delta State House of Assembly Service Commission also disclosed how a hefty sum of N570 billion was taken from the excess crude savings to enable state and local governments in the country implement their budget because of the shortfall in oil production due to vandalization which, she said is costing the Federal Government N130 billion a month.
"We (Federal Government) are doing what we can to remove bottlenecks in this country that militate against private sector investing in the country including in this state (Delta).
The President has just set up a Doing Business Committee which I chair to help address those bottlenecks, bureaucratic obstacles that block investment in the country; I urge you in the state to look at a similar approach if you are not already doing so to remove bottleneck against foreign and private investments because this is the only way that we are going to get jobs created in this state. "In my new portfolio", she went on, "I have been told infact that this is the main objective of going to Foreign Affairs is to make foreign policy a tool for national development by strengthening our economic diplomacy. Our economic diplomacy was there before my time.
I want to commend my predecessor, General Ike Nwachukwu and others who worked to put this as part of our diplomacy. What I am there to do is to sharpen this tool and use it to the benefit of the country in the same way that China, India, Brazil and various other countries are doing. On issue of vandalization, the Minister said "the issue of Niger Delta is a vexed one. I cannot tackle this address without touching on it. Local communities have been neglected by Government and the oil companies for more than 60 years, social capital is broken and trust between government and the people undermined severely by the lack of adequate attention to the Niger Delta communities. So we need to acknowledge the genuine concern and to tackle them with much more gusto than in the past.
"When you damage the pipelines that carry oil that brings resources for the entire country and for the states by taking out production up to half a million barrel a day which is what we are losing now that translates into almost one hundred and thirty billion naira, an amount that is being lost from the Federal Government and State and local government coffers because of the damaged pipeline.
I believe that as you address the genuine problems of the communities we must discourage this kind of behaviour which is counter productive. "What has happened is that the shortfall that we are now experiencing in oil production remember I said half a million barrels of oil per day is being lost because of pipeline vandalization which amount to about N130 billion a month .