The board and management of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, have begun the process of re-focusing the interventionist agency for better service delivery to all its stakeholders in Nigeria’s oil-producing region. This critical action was kicked off on Wednesday by the Chairman of the Governing Board of the NDDC, Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, when he declared open a three-day retreat for members of the board and management at the Le Meridien Hotel in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
He said that the retreat was very timely, coming at a critical time in the history of the NDDC. Furthermore, he said that the theme; ‘re-focusing NDDC for better service delivery,’ was most appropriate. He noted that the Bureau of Public Service Reform had in 2013 “observed that the commission has a large pool of capable personnel, which is constrained by poor leadership, weak institutional systems and a culture of impunity.”
Senator Ewa-Henshaw warned members of staff of the commission that it would no longer be business as usual, as the news board was determined to turn things around for good. “I believe that it is now time to tell ourselves some home truths. It can no longer be business as usual. Substantial and immediate changes for the better must take place. We must root out impunity from NDDC,” he said.
The chairman said he was hopeful that the retreat would re-orientate the minds of members of the NDDC family and re-focus their attention to address the image problem of the commission. He charged the participants to leave Uyo with a more positive attitude and a greater commitment to achieving the goals of the NDDC.
In his welcome address, the NDDC Managing Director, Sir Bassey Dan-Abia, admitted that the commission was losing focus but added that the critical question was how to get back on track. According to him, “holding this 2014 board and management retreat is our first step at getting back on track.”
The Managing Director stated that the priority of the current board was to re-position the commission for better service delivery which would contribute immensely to achieving the objective “to offer a lasting solution to the socio-economic difficulties of the Niger Delta region.”
Sir Dan-Abia said: “Prosperity will not forgive some of us if we just want to dance in the comfort zone so that we don’t offend some people. There is poor image and perception from the general public, mainly because of our stakeholders’ engagement process, which is not all encompassing. The people of the Niger Delta have not quite received the value they expect from NDDC.”
He said that quality of some of the infrastructure projects undertaken by the NDDC fell below acceptable standards and this had made the people of the region to differentiate NDDC projects from other well delivered projects. He, however, traced some of these shortcomings to inadequate funding, noting that the release of funds from contributing partners were not following the funding provisions of the NDDC Act of 2000.