The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has asked the management of the Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC to adhere strictly to due process, international best practices and commitment to solving the problems in the Niger-Delta.
Akpabio, who was accompanied by the Minister of State for Niger-Delta Affairs, Festus Keyamo SAN, said this while addressing NDDC management and staff during a working visit to the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.
The Minister charged the Commission to understand the need to build sustainable development in the region.
Senator Akpabio also said the NDDC must have a well-structured fund development regime, whereby all funds that accrue to the commission every month are utilised, saying that the Federal Government must determine the total indebtedness of NDDC where international or external auditing firms will be brought to audit the commission’s accounts.
The Minister announced plans to start a Post Amnesty Initiative, PAI, where industrial clusters would be established across the region to engage youths who graduate from the current Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government. He noted that the programme would end someday and the youths may be forced to fall back on the NDDC.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expect different result. That is why we have to set new templates for NDDC. The commission will no longer pay rent for its corporate headquarters on Aba Road from next year. In 1996, the then Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) started a 13-storey building as the corporate headquarters of NDDC on Eastern Bypass, Port Harcourt. The money to complete the building can be brought in a month, if NDDC’s management chooses to. The staff must work in a conducive environment.
“NDDC does not have the resources to solve all the problems of the Niger Delta region. NDDC has 12,000 projects across the nine states of the region, which are experiencing funding challenge. We must explore collaborative partnership with all agencies created by law, as alternative sources of funding. NDDC must imbibe the culture of adhering to due process, international best practices and commitment to the welfare of the real people of Niger Delta. We must build sustainable development in the region. We do not have the money. Crude oil is a perishable item. Let us plan ahead and embark on uncommon projects.
“The commission must drastically curtail its procurement activities, by reducing the number of big projects and programmes. NDDC, in order to ensure that we determine the total number of ongoing projects and programmes, as well as their distribution among the nine states, must put a mechanism in place to reevaluate the viability of some of the projects and programmes. Revise the scope of some of them, relocate some and merge some, and complete them for the benefit of our people.
“I direct that the commission must prioritise some signature projects in each of the nine states of the Niger Delta, ensure regular funding, place emphasis on close monitoring and supervision of projects. Also bring about prompt delivery, so that we can have legacy projects in the Niger Delta. President Buhari must commission NDDC’s legacy projects, starting from next year.
“We must determine the total indebtedness of NDDC. We must immediately bring in international or external auditing firms. NDDC must have a well-structured fund development regime, whereby all funds that accrue to the commission every month are utilised. The staff’s promotion exercise must also be concluded immediately. The postings of staff should be well intended and should not be based on punishment. In NDDC, it will no longer be business as usual
“As a former Minority Leader of the Senate, I will ensure that members of the Senate and House of Representatives’ Committees on Niger Delta on oversight functions do not harass you (NDDC staff). Whenever you are invited, make sure you get in touch with me.
“The commission must move with the stakeholders next year. The recently-completed Ogbia-Nembe Road in Bayelsa State was constructed in partnership with the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), which provided 70 per cent of the fund. Such initiatives involving other oil companies operating in the Niger Delta should be encouraged and it will serve as a challenge to other International Oil Companies (IOCs) to partner with NDDC to embark on capital-intensive projects in the region,” Akpabio said.
Earlier in her address, Acting MD of NDDC, Akwagaga Enyia said that the NDDC had placed itself on a mission that was in sync with that of the Niger Delta Ministry.
This, she said, was anchored on a new narrative that every Kobo expended by the Commission whether on execution of a project or provision of services, must count.
She affirmed: “We have begun a self-auditing process where everyone interrogates their integrity quotient in the light of the sad stereotype into which the Commission has been cast. So, we have set out to build a new image based on a culture of service delivery devoid of corrupt practices. In line with good conscience and your charge, I have challenged Directors and the general staff that the Commission’s daily businesses must be transacted with no modicum of corruptive complicity.”
“Specifics of our actions in that regard include engaging the lead contractor in a bare-it-all dialogue to extract commitments of expedited delivery while not impugning quality. Both parties worked out a mutually, robust work and delivery plan that will be accommodated within an acceptable deadline.
“We have held discussions followed with Technical Committee Sessions with teams from the Federal Ministries of Finance and Agriculture, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD. We are driving a partnership to grow agribusiness in the focal states of the Commission that will target about 10 local government areas in each state. The programme, ‘Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises Project in the Niger Delta, LIFE-ND’, is bringing about $129.2m on the table.”
After the meeting Senator Akpabio, Keyamo SAN and his entourage inspected on-going construction of the 13-floor permanent headquarters of the NDDC and a failed section of the East-West Road at Nkpolu area of Port Harcourt.