The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has inaugurated an independent project monitoring group made up of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, in the Niger Delta region.
Inaugurating the group, the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, charged the members to continue to engage development agencies as well as hold them accountable for the achievement of set goals in the region.
Mrs. Semenitari, gave the monitoring group the task at a one day interactive follow-up engagement of NDDC and CSOs held at the Reens Arena in Port Harcourt yesterday. She said that it marked an important milestone in the partnership with the civil society groups.
She noted that shortly after assuming office at the NDDC as the chief executive, she met with CSOs to cultivate a partnership and develop a new ethical infrastructure in the implementation of projects and programmes in the Commission.
The NDDC boss said that part of her concerns was to ensure an effective transformation of service to the people as well as strengthen transparency and accountability in the conduct of government business. She added: “It is to also support wholeheartedly the present administration’s fight against corruption across the entire spectrum of our activities, bring about a determined and sustained drive to eliminate waste in our procurement and all public expenditures. This in my view is only possible if we re-professionalize the workforce to create a new generation of officers with sufficient skills, knowledge and motivation to coordinate our management systems.”
Mrs. Semenitari said that she had articulated the vision of what the new NDDC should be and admitted that even though the Commission had not lived up to its mandate, there was a genuine desire to get it right. She said: “As part of the new culture of efficient and effective service delivery, I have motivated the NDDC workforce to a better output devoid of corrupt practices.”
“To achieve the Commission’s core mandate, I initiated the following: A culture of transparency and accountability. That much is reflected in the release of our First quarterly report which is also online on the NDDC website. In our first quarterly report, you will find published our finances and budgeting process; a breakdown of all contracts awarded from inception; and several areas of intervention. The second Quarterly report is due and shall be released to the public soonest.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer insisted that the Commission must earn value for money in all its projects implementation. “To achieve this, we have initiated a partnership with the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), to institute the NDDC Standard. Part of our position is that any engineer who compromises his professional ethics to deliver poor quality job should have his registration withdrawn. COREN has already agreed on this and the engagement and committed to deliver by September,” she said.
“We also engaged critical stakeholders in decision making - state governments’ engagement in the 2016 Budget, a novel introduction but which is what the Niger Delta Development Master Plan recommends; have insisted for proper projects’ appropriation and quality delivery.”
Mrs. Semenitari said that with the support of the CSO’s, the NDDC could do more to build a more secure, prosperous and united Niger Delta and a socially rewarding and focused NDDC.
She appealed to the CSOs to do more to support government in curbing the menace of insecurity, pipeline vandalism and further devastation of the environment so as to change the negative narratives of the region.
Speaking on behalf of the civil society groups, Rev. David Ugolor, one of the CSO facilitators, advised his colleagues to engage development agencies constructively, stating that it was not enough to stay outside and criticize, “we need to get closer, engage those in authorities especially in the NDDC.”
He commended the NDDC for creating a portal where all the projects being executed by the Commission could be accessed by the communities and other members of the public.
The President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, Mr. Legborsi Pyagbara, commended Mrs. Semenitari for transforming the NDDC in the last eight months.
“Let me congratulate you on a very wonderful achievement you have recorded so far in NDDC. I think yours has been a tenure of transformation,” he said.
‘I think that what we have to push for going forward is to see how we can get a sustained platform for engagement. I, therefore, support the idea of getting a platform for engagement with the NDDC either on a quarterly basis or on the six monthly basis.”