The National Vice Chairman, South-South zone of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Ntufam Hilliard Eta, has charged the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to focus on new areas that will ensure sustainable development in the region in the days beyond oil.
Ntufam Eta called for the paradigm shift when he led members of the APC South-South Zone Working Committee to pay a courtesy visit to the Board and Management of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.
The party chairman suggested an emphasis on Information Communication Technology, ICT, as one of the sectors that would serve the region well when oil eventually takes the backstage. He said: “Perhaps it will help to impact on the unemployment time bomb that is everywhere today in Nigeria and more so in the Niger Delta. It will also be a worthy legacy to leave in the region when oil begins to dry up.”
Another area, he stated, is for NDDC to look into small and medium scale enterprises, adding: “We can devise and create a method where our people will partner with the NDDC to create an industrial base that would ignite the development of the region.”
Ntufam Eta said that the establishment of NDDC had brought many good things to the region.“I think that the work of this Commission is obvious,” he said. “So that was obvious on my way to Port Harcourt from Calabar, where I saw the good work you had done on the Uyo Calabar road. What would have happened had the NDDC not intervened on that road, because we were aware of the monumental degradation that has visited that road.
“So, amongst other things, we have to thank the NDDC for coming to restore that road. Today, that road is remarkably different. Spread across the region are roads, hospitals and infrastructure that the NDDC in the past 17 years of its existence has brought to the region, and so the place of the NDDC in the development of the region is assured.”
The Chairman of the NDDC Governing Board, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, said that the visit of the APC leaders in the South-South was historic and timely, noting that the current board was the first under an APC government.
He stated that the visit reinforced confidence in the NDDC and its stakeholders that the Federal Government and the ruling APC were genuinely interested in the development of the Niger Delta, noting that being the first board under the APC-led administration, the members were bound by the philosophy of the party which emphasised change.
Senator Ndoma-Egba stressed the need for the NDDC to return to its original mandate, “which is the creation of a prosperous regional economy of the Niger Delta,” and identified ICT as a key driver for the regional economy which would guarantee peace, prosperity and security in the region.
He said the Commission had also identified other key drivers, such as agriculture, manufacturing, small scale or large scale, sports and other areas for engagement and underlined the need to engage the youths and make them competitive through ICT, sports and a deliberate youth empowerment policy.
Senator Ndoma-Egba expressed confidence in the ability of the Commission to turn the youths of the region into a real resource for the nation. “The real resource a nation or state,” he reiterated, “is not the minerals under the sun. It is the young men and women who have received education and are skilled, who are competitive and who are productive. So, our mandate is to create an economy that would bring out the talents of our youths and create an environment for them to express those talents.
“We are trying to make our systems and processes as transparent as possible so that we can be accountable to the people that we serve. If we are more transparent, we will encourage the stakeholders, the Federal Government, the oil companies and the development partners to do much more than they are doing right now with the Commission for the development of the Niger Delta.”
Senator Ndoma-Egba said that the Board and Management of the NDDC was determined to change the narrative of the Commission, because, he said, “We want to change the story of the Commission. We want to change the song of the Commission, so that we can also change the narrative, the story and the song of the region.”