The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Nsima Ekere, has identified poor governance as the biggest challenge to achieving the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.
Mr. Ekere was delivering a paper titled, “Dangerous Beasts and How to Tame Them: The 4-R Strategy”, at the beginning of a three-day retreat of the Commission at Onne, Rivers State, on Friday.
“Poor governance of self and institutions,” the NDDC boss said, “is at the heart of public sector delivery challenges and these have resulted to poorly delivered infrastructure which decays rapidly, lack of social services, pervasive poverty, resurgent militant attacks, pollution of the environment and decreased revenue to government.”
He disclosed that the Niger Delta Master Plan, which originally required 15 years to implement at a cost of $50 billion has failed despite the region receiving $40 billion in ten years, declaring: “Sadly, there is little evidence to show for the sums spent.”
Mr. Ekere also stated that 50 years ago, “Nigeria, China and South Korea were at similar stages of development, but due to poor governance, Nigeria is way behind,” pointing out that while the 1960 per capita income of the three countries were $155 for South Korea, $89 for China and $92 for Nigeria. By 2015, according to the World Bank, the per capita income stood at $27,221 for South Korea, with a population of 50 million, $8,000 for China with a population of 1,370 million and $2,600 for Nigeria, with a population of 180 million people, he said.
He identified weak internal processes, procedures and control, weak organisational culture and unethical practices, among others, as factors impeding the successful implementation of the NDDC mandate and declared that the 4-R Initiative of the Governing Board was set to change things for the better.
“The 4-R strategy encapsulates the solution required to address the myriad challenges facing NDDC,” the NDDC MD said, adding that the Board will restructure the balance sheet, reform governance protocols, restore the core mandate of the Commission and reaffirm “a commitment to doing what’s right and proper.”
Mr. Ekere said: “With about N1.2 trillion of the contingent liabilities on its balance sheet, NDDC needs to find ways to free funds for urgent development projects and programmes,” promising to review over-invoiced projects, determine wrongly procured contracts and recover mobilisation from abandoned projects
“We will also recover excess bank charges, recover outstanding IOC contributions and reschedule payment of outstanding statutory contributions of the Federal Government.”
He called for collaboration among stakeholders to achieve sustainable development in the Niger Delta, adding that the NDDC Governance and Reform Project (NGRP) will “catalyse the irreversible reform of the NDDC by enforcing compliance with rules and regulations.
“We must begin to do the right thing in the Commission, no matter what it takes. Two things are likely to happen: it’s either we tame the beast or we get bitten by the beast. We hope to tame the beast, for the good of the people.”