The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS, has indicated willingness to support the development efforts of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. This followed a visit of a delegation from the international organization to the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt yesterday (Friday).
Speaking for the US group, Ms. Jennifer Cooke, the director of the CSIS Africa Programme, said that the international community was well disposed to investing to facilitate the growth of the Niger Delta, adding that getting it right was very important for the region and the West Africa at large. “There have been so many plans for the development of the Niger Delta and so many efforts to get it right. If you get it right, there are so many people who are willing to invest in your success,” she said.
Cooke noted that the Niger Delta had enormous potentials that needed to be developed for the benefit of the people living in the region. She assured the NDDC of assistance in getting the attention of Nigerian watchers and policy makers in Washington.
According to her, “the NDDC has a big opportunity to inspire people in terms of implementing the existing plans for the region. It is important that people are inspired on new ways of doing things. If you don’t want people to get fatigued, you have to inspire them to do things differently.”
The acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, told the visiting CSIS delegation that the commission needed the support of all stakeholders to succeed in the task of developing the Niger Delta region. She stressed the need for local and international organizations to pull resources together to ensure that there was development in the Niger Delta, noting that the world could not afford to ignore the region.
She said: “If you don’t get the Niger Delta right, every one suffers. There is a lot of wealth in the belly of the Niger Delta and it is way beyond oil and gas. We need the assistance of CSIS to take our story to the rest of the world. However, we are not looking for handouts. We don’t need that. What we need are partners who will work with us to bring growth to the region in ways that are sustainable.”
The NDDC boss later took the CSIS delegation to inspect the on-going construction of the Niger Delta Regional Mother and Child Hospital in Port Harcourt, which had suffered some delays on account of poor funding. Briefing the NDDC and CSIS team on the project, Arch Peter Dateme, the prime consultant, said that the 233-bed hospital would be completed in 12 months if funds were made available to the contractor.
It could be recalled that the NDDC Managing Director recently inspected the Niger Delta Regional Specialist Hospital (orthopaedic and cardiovascular) also being built in Port Harcourt.