The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, will give full effect to the NDDC Act of 2,000 which established the interventionist agency in order to create synergy and achieve its core mandate of sustainable regional development.
Speaking on Friday at a three-day retreat, with the theme, “Collaboration for Sustainable Development”, organised in Onne, in the outskirts of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, for members of the Governing Board, Directors and strategic Stakeholders from within and outside the region, the Commission’s Chairman, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, rededicated the commitment “to audit processes, systems, projects and personnel for integrity, efficiency, transparency and accountability.”
As a first step, Senator Ndoma-Egba pledged, “the Niger Delta Development Advisory Committee, made up of the Governors of the member states of the Commission, and two persons to be determined from time to time by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces,” will be revived.
“The Advisory Committee is charged with the responsibility of advising the Board and monitoring the activities of the Commission,”, the Chairman said, adding: “A full functional Advisory Committee will ensure harmonisation of projects and programmes with the member states and will make the Commission a partner to the states, rather than the competitor it now appears to be.”
He stated that the Monitoring Committee “consisting of such number of persons as the President may deem fit to appoint from the public or civil service of the federation, will also be revived, in order to “monitor the management of the funds of the Commission”, as well as the implementation of the Commission’s projects.
He declared that the Committee “will have access to the books of account and other records of the Commission at all times, and submit periodic reports to the President,” saying that these were measures being put in place by the Governing Board and Management to reinforce transparency and accountability, as well as strengthen the governance framework required to improve performance.
“Governance issues beguile the Commission,” Senator Ndoma-Egba said. “Its systems and processes are weak and opaque. Those who hold this view cite the sheer volume of over 9,000 contracts and the rate of failure of these contracts without consequences or sanctions to anyone whatsoever as evidence. We have no option but to change things.”
He added: “It is in the best interest of the Commission that all its organs are active.”
The Chairman also blamed the budget process for being “largely responsible for the spate of abandoned projects” in the region, adding: “The approach to the project has been ad hoc, arbitrary and self-serving, with very little end-user content. Many projects appear strange to beneficiary communities. The projects are imposed on them and it creates a crisis of ownership.”
He promised to work with communities, states and local governments in developing the Commission’s projects, declaring: “Our vision is the creation of a regional economy with identified drivers that will be youth-friendly, as a motivated, educated and empowered youth remain the real resource of any nation, not oil or mineral resources.”
Senator Ndoma-Egba listed ICT, sports, the creative industry, agriculture and manufacturing “supported by inter-modal transportation, health, education and infrastructure, with adequate power supply” as key to the new thrust of the NDDC. He added that this vision would be achieved within a “Master Plan that must be stakeholder-generated and owned.”
He then called on all parties in the region to work with the Commission towards enthroning peace and security in the Niger Delta, saying: “I will continue to appeal to all militant groups to stop the breaches and vandalisation of oil facilities. Their point has long been made. Now they are inflicting injuries and suffering on themselves and our already hapless and helpless people.”