The various stakeholders in the development of the Niger Delta region will gather in Port Harcourt from Monday, November 30 for a conference on the platform of the Partnership for Sustainable Development (PSD) Forum. The two-day event to be hosted by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, will address the theme: “Re-strategizing development concepts in the Niger Delta region to provide for post oil wealth socio-economic sustainability.”
Briefing newsmen on the conference at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, the Managing Director of the Commission, Sir (Barr) Bassey Dan-Abia, said that the governors of the nine Niger Delta states, oil firms operating in the region, chairmen of local government councils and several other international organizations, were expected to be in attendance.
He said: “Partners for Sustainable Development is a structure that was set up to interact so that serious issues like budgeting will be brought before other partners for review while they also make inputs.We are guided by the NDDC Act, which is the statutory instrument that governs the mandate of the commission and of course other laws and regulations of the Federal Government of Nigeria and most importantly, the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan.In all these documents, emphasis is on partnership because the commission clearly has no capacity, either by structure, financial strength or otherwise, to develop the region alone.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer explained that the PSD Forum was a platform meant tominimize wastage, save time and cost, as well as bring the stakeholders on the same page. He cited the 27- kilometer Ogbia-Nembe road being built by the NDDC in partnership with the Shell Petroleum Development Company [SPDC] as one example of the kind of team work needed in the quest for sustainable development in the Niger Delta.He said that the N24.4 billion project illustrated the kind of challenges confronting the Niger Delta,noting that there was no way the NDDC could embark on such projects alone and called on other partners to emulate the example of the SPDC.
Sir Dan-Abia corrected the impression that state governments in the Niger Delta region were contributing to the funding of the NDDC. He said that the interventionist agency was also not in competition with the state and local governments in the region, adding that its activities were meant to complement the efforts of the three tiers of government.“We are not doing the jobs of local government councils; we are not doing the jobs of state governments. We only contribute our own bit.That is why we consider the PSD meeting very important,” he said.
The NDDC boss said that the current management of the commission had so far completed and furnished 8 out of the 19 proto-type hostels being built in universities and polytechnics across the region. He said: “When we came in, we selected certain projects that were awarded by previous boards, which included ongoing and abandoned projects, to complete. We found that contracts for the construction of 19 university hostels were awarded by the commission in 2004. Out of the number, only one hostel located at the Imo State University, Owerri, was completed, more than 10 years after the contracts were awarded.”