The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and the Delta State Government have agreed to pull resources together for the construction of the Omadino-Okerenkoko-Escravos Road, as part of the on-going collaboration with governments of the nine states of the region.
The road is expected to provide access to the Maritime University, Okerenkoko Escravos Gas Terminal, and other communities in one of the major oil and gas hubs of the Niger Delta.
The groundwork for the partnership was laid yesterday when members of the NDDC Board and Management, led by its Chairman, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, paid a courtesy visit to Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, at Government House, Asaba.
The visiting team included the NDDC Managing Director, Mr Nsima Ekere, the Executive Director Finance and Administration, Mr Mene Derek, Executive Director Projects, Engr. Samuel Adjogbe, FNSE, and other directors of the Commission.
Dr. Okowa gave kudos to NDDC for emphasizing collaboration among the various stakeholders in the Niger Delta, saying: “We need to have more of such big-ticket projects that will be impactful on the lives people in the region.”
He advised that the budgetary process of the interventionist agency needed to be reviewed, stating that this was necessary to ensure that projects were adequately provided for in its annual budgets to bridge funding gaps.
The Delta State Governor said that it was in the best interest of the NDDC to reform some of its processes, noting that the new spirit of partnership was welcome. He said: “we are glad that you have invited the President to re-activate the Advisory Committee that will enable the governors to make inputs to the activities of the Commission.”
The Governor said that NDDC needs to refine its budgeting process, observing that “the kind of adhoc budgets that the Commission runs now causes many problems.” He underlined the need for the NDDC to engage the National Assembly during the budgeting season.
He advised the NDDC to reform its wealth creation programmes, noting that mentoring should be embedded in the programmes to ensure their sustainability. Mentoring, he said, “will ensure that we have less failures and a valuable support for the beneficiaries.”
The Chairman of the NDDC board, Senator Ndoma-Egba, told the governor that one of the first decisions taken by the board was the re-activation of all dormant organs of the Commission. One such important organ, he said, was the Advisory Committee made up of all the governors of the NDDC member states and two other members appointed by Mr. President.
Senator Ndoma-Egba noted that it was necessary to revive the Advisory Committee because the NDDC must work with the government of the member states to ensure that they took ownership of its projects and programmes, as well as check the duplication of projects.
The NDDC Chairman said that the Commission was going around to meet with governors because, according to him “we are now operating with a new spirit of partnership. We must move the region forward, and we can only do this by cooperating with all stakeholders.”
He said that for NDDC to achieve maximum efficiency, it must move away from the usual annual budgets, stating that what was needed was a Master Plan for the region. He regretted that the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan, which was launched in 2007, had remained largely unimplemented. “So, we have to agree whether to terminate that Master Plan, update it or upgrade it. But a Master Plan is needed so that our annual budgets will be annual incremental steps towards achieving the vision of the plan,” the chairman said.
Senator Ndoma-Egba declared that a comprehensive plan was necessary for any meaningful progress to be made. “No state can progress without a plan,” he emphasised. He added: “we need a plan to benchmark where we are going in the short term, medium term and long term.
Senator Ndoma-Egba stated that a comprehensive plan was necessary for any meaningful progress to be made as “no state can progress without a plan. We need a plan to benchmark where we are going in a short term, medium term and long term. We must therefore revisit the Master Plan.”
Senator Ndoma-Egba maintained that NDDC must be futuristic in planning for the development of the Niger Delta, adding that “we must begin to see how we can fund development in the region from sources other than oil.”
He said that the NDDC board in its last meeting approved the development of Information Communication Technology, ICT, infrastructure in the region. “We want to rig the region with a fibre optic network to deepen internet access,” the Chairman said.
The NDDC Chairman said that the Commission had since inception embarked on 1,614 projects in Delta state, valued at N366 billion. He said that 803 of the projects have been completed and commissioned while 396 were still on-going.