By Innocent Orok
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has stated the readiness of the Federal Government to collaborate with the French Government in the production of Virology Centres which will address and tackle the spread of infectious diseases in the Niger Delta region. Akpabio made this known when the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jerome Pasquier paid him a courtesy call recently in his office at Abuja.
According to the Minister, “the importance and usefulness of the Virology Centre cannot be emphasized considering the prevalent situation presently experienced in the country and globally”. He stated that the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs as child of circumstance was established to quell the agitation of the people of the Niger Delta region and to bring development to the region.
The Minister, who commended the efforts and commitment of the Federal Government in rolling out measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, extended his sympathy to the French Ambassador and his country for their loss.
He further stated that presently, the Ministry seeks to engage the services of consultants who would merge the Regional and National Plan to produce a concised Master Plan that will address amongst others, the infrastructural deficit, youth restiveness and socio-economic challenges in the region.
Akpabio also stressed the need to engage Soil remediation experts to help in restoring the soil to its natural pollution free state, which will enhance soil usefulness and prevent endemic poverty in the region, adding that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has demonstrated its readiness to expend N90 billion for the nine States of the Niger Delta region in its integrated Agricultural Programme to train youths in Fishery, Rabbitry, Piggery, etc.
He assured the Ambassador that the Ministry would be prudent and transparent in any financial assistance offered by French Government.
The French Ambassador, who commended the efforts of the Government in putting in place effective measures to control the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, encouraged the Federal Government to develop vaccines that will take care of infectious diseases and other ailments such as Coronavirus and malaria respectively.
He indicated the readiness of his country to cooperate with Nigeria in the production of vaccine suggesting that Nigeria should also collaborate with other African countries to make the COVID-19 vaccine production a reality.