LAGOS, Feb. 11 - The Nigerian federal government is doing everything possible to implement development projects and sustain peace in the oil rich Niger Delta region, an official said Saturday.
Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs Usani Usani made the remarks at a stakeholders' meeting to mark the visit of Vice President Yemi Osibanjo to Bayelsa State.
The vice president led a delegation of ministers, heads of agencies and other federal cabinet members to Bayelsa as part of efforts by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to find a lasting peace in the region.
Women, youths, traditional rulers, captains of industries, political office holders and other government functionaries turned out in large numbers to participate in the dialogue.
The minister assured that the government was committed to building projects that would impact positively on the region, saying that the government shares in the pains of Niger-Delta.
"We have embarked on this journey to harness the issues of peace and stability and other developmental challenges," he added.
He stressed the need for collaboration with the government, adding that Bayelsa and the South-South region were critical to the nation.
On his part, Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, charged the youths in the region to embrace agriculture for development.
According to Lokpobiri, agriculture is a profitable business than oil and gas. He appealed to the people of Bayelsa to shun the acts of criminality.
The oil rich region is an unstable area of Nigeria, and inter-ethnic clashes are common as access to oil revenue is the trigger for the violence. Pipelines are regularly vandalized by impoverished residents, who risk their lives to siphon off fuel.
Vandalism is estimated to result in thousands of barrels of crude oil wastage every day -- a loss to the Nigerian economy of millions of dollars each year.
Nigeria is the world's sixth largest oil-producing nation. However, mismanagement and successive military governments have left the country poverty stricken.