As part of efforts to curb criminality in the Niger Delta region, the European Union (EU) through a non-governmental organisation (NGO), known as ‘Search for Common Ground’ (SEARCH), has launched a peace project in the region.

The project was officially launched by the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, at the Alamameiseigha Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa.

The project is in partnership with the Stakeholders Democratic Network (SDN), Academic Associate Peace Works (AAPW) and the Partnership Initiative for the Niger Delta (PIND).

In his address on the occasion, Diri regretted that the Niger Delta region had long been plagued by the twin challenges of limited opportunities, which he said breed frustration and metamorphoses into criminality.

The governor, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Gideon Ekeuwei, posited that the challenges had hindered the growth and development of the communities and had created a climate of fear and insecurity.

While expressing his appreciation to the EU for their generous funding, the governor said it was disheartening to witness the loss of lives, destruction of property, and disruption of economic activities as a result of these challenges.

He said: Whereas, this may appear to be a small addition, it could have major implications in implementation. This is because attempts at transforming criminality and violence which is not intrinsically linked to the sustainable prosperity of the Niger Delta, will not assure the sustainable prosperity of Nigeria, the West Africa sub-region and to some degree the world at large.

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“I would therefore, like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the EU for their generous funding and support towards this peacebuilding project. The EU has consistently shown a commitment to promoting peace, stability, and sustainable development across the globe.

“Your partnership with Bayelsa State is a testament to your belief in our potential to transform our region, consistent with our avowed mandate to bring shared prosperity to our dear state. We welcome collaboration such as this.”

In her welcome address, the Country Director of SEARCH, Mrs Fatima Abubakar, said the project launch will set a stage for a significant leap in the collective efforts to foster inclusive community security approaches and address the causes of violence and criminality in the region.

She said the 18-month project solely funded by the EU will be implemented in 33 local governments across 66 communities in Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta states.

She said: “SEARCH designed its projects to collaborate with local and international partners, to spearhead impactful initiatives aimed at mitigating violence and building resilience in communities across Niger Delta.

“Recognising the significance of community-led initiatives, we aim to empower the youth and engage diverse stakeholders to contribute to the socio-economic development of Bayelsa, fostering a safer and more secure environment for all.”