The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has said it awarded 941 projects in Bayelsa state, out of which 233 valued at N38.8 billion had been completed and inaugurated.
Chairman Governing Board, Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba, disclosed this when he led a team of the commission’s Board and Management to visit Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa at Government House, Yenagoa.
The chairman also pledged to complete the N24 billion 25.7kilometre Ogbia-Nembe road before the end of 2017.
Ndoma-Egba gave a firm assurance that the N24 billion Ogbia-Nembe road, being executed by the NDDC and Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, would be completed as quickly as possible.
“We must finish and commission the Ogbia-Nembe road; it is a commitment we must fulfill this year,” he said.
“The commission was implementing an innovative 4-R strategy which entails: “Restructuring the balance sheet which currently has about N1.2 trillion worth of ongoing projects; Reforming the governance systems to ensure that as an organisation we comply with extant rules and regulations and prevent mistakes of the past from recurring;
Restoring the core mandate of the Commission by ensuring we have a properly prepared set of Master Plans for the 9 States; Reaffirming our commitment to doing what’s right and proper,” he said.
Ndoma-Egba said that as a regional interventionist agency, NDDC was conceived to drive integrated development in the region.
He noted that the Commission had too many projects in its books.
According to him, the NDDC will cancel about N200 billion projects from its books.
“We need to reduce the projects we are handling to a manageable number that will make more impact.”
He said that the NDDC was prepared to make amends for the mistakes of the past, saying the commission is forging a new relationship with stakeholders in the region.
“The new spirit of cooperation entails our not competing with the states and local governments. To deepen this new relationship, we have written to the President to re-activate the Advisory Committee and the Project Monitoring Committee; we need these two committees to be able to share our visions for the region and avoid duplication. We need the project Monitoring committee to enable us earn the trust of our partners,” he said.
The chairman stressed the need for the commission to return to the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan, which was launched with fanfare in 2007.
According to him, the stakeholders will decide whether to terminate that Master Plan, update it or upgrade it. But he admitted that a Master Plan is very necessary.
He also said that the commission was thinking beyond oil because oil is finite resource that will one day dry up.
Responding Gov. Dickson expressed delight at the Ogbia-Nembe road project, which is opening up 14 communities on its stretch to economic activities and modern development, stating that his administration was ever ready to partner with the NDDC.
He thanked the Federal Government for creating different platforms, including the NDDC to fast track the development of the Niger Delta which has suffered a lot of neglect in the past.
Dickson advised stakeholders in the region to put in more efforts to change the negative perception of the oil-rich region.
“While we blame the Federal Government, we should also look inwards to make a difference and change the narrative in the region. Our people are dying from the hazards of oil and gas exploration and exploitation with no concrete benefits to our people. It is sad that young people have made our region to be branded as unsafe and not good enough for the big companies to do business; I call on all young people and our leaders to work to change the narrative of our region,” he said
Dickson advised the NDDC to ensure that available resources were channelled to projects that would affect the lives of the people.
According to the governor the region cannot afford the luxury of playing politics with matters of development.
Members of the delegation included the Managing Director, Mr Nsima Ekere, the Executive Director Projects, Mr Samuel Adjogbe, the Bayelsa State representative on the NDDC board, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa and other directors of the Commission.