The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has kicked off a series of consultative stakeholders’ meetings in 9 states of the Niger Delta region. The meetings, which started last week in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, moved to Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Monday.
In his address at the event, the NDDC Managing Director, Barr. Bassey Dan-Abia, said that it was necessary to engage and consult with stakeholders to communicate to them the resolve of the commission to evolve new robust and innovative strategies for delivering its mandate as encapsulated in the act establishing the interventionist agency and captured in the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan.
Barr. Dan-Abia, who was represented by Chief Ephraim Etete, the representative of Rivers State on the board of the NDDC, said that the meetings would provide needed platforms for the stakeholders to agree on the best ways to address development challenges in the Niger Delta, in order to achieve better service delivery.
“We as a commission have started the process of redefining our vision, mission, priorities and responsibilities in a manner that will engender confidence, involvement and active support from stakeholders. We are exploring public, private partnership arrangement to leverage our ability to undertake major/critical projects in the actualization of our mandate, the NDDC MD said.
Barr. Dan-Abia underscored the urgent need for all stakeholders, including states, local governments and communities to take ownership of the projects in their areas as such would ensure sustainable development. He further said that the NDDC was already reactivating the Partners for Sustainable Development (PSD) Forum as a platform to vigorously drive the implementation of the master plan endorsed as the region’s development road map.
In his own address, the NDDC executive Director Projects, Engr. Tuoyo Omatsuli, said that the commission would in line with global best practices adopt a bottom-up strategy in its interventions in the development process, noting that meetings involving communities and critical segments of the society would create the necessary synergy that would strengthen the pursuit of development objectives.
Engr. Omatsuli, who was represented by Dr. Enyia Akwagaga, the Director of NDDC Rivers State Office, stated that the commission’s new focus, which was in tandem with President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda, underlined the engagement of key stakeholders as essential partners in achieving sustainable development.
One of the participants at the meeting, Sir Alaye Eremie, a former Commissioner for Employment Generation and Economic Empowerment in Rivers State, urged the NDDC to create a special department for the placement of youths in gainful employment after training them in skill acquisition programmes. He also charged the NDDC to facilitate the setting up of an economic empowerment trust fund, which would help to provide appropriate jobs for the youths after training them.