The Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities, TROMPCON, is partnering with the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to host a national conference that will assist in combating illegal oil bunkering and vandalism of oil facilities in the Niger Delta region.
This was made known by Eze Akuwueze Ikegwuruka, the paramount ruler of Ngbirichi in Imo State and the National Chairman of TROMPCON, when the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, paid a courtesy visit to his palace on Friday.
Eze Ikegwuruka said TROMPCON had identified the strengths and challenges of the NDDC and was eager to build bonds of partnership with the commission in the interest of the people of the Niger Delta region. He pledged the assistance of the traditional rulers in the efforts to maintain a peaceful environment for the activities of development agencies and contractors.
Under the NDDC Act of 2000, the responsibilities of NDDC include identifying factors inhibiting the development of the Niger Delta region as well as tackling ecological and environmental problems that arise from oil exploration.
Eze Ikegwuruka said that TROMPCON was also reaching out to various agencies to get support for the development of the region, which he said had been neglected and underdeveloped. He said: “The Niger Delta people are short-changed in terms of funding. These challenges, therefore, call for alternative means of livelihood for the people of the region.”
He reminded the Acting MD about the pending suit filed by TROMPCON at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, challenging the Federal Government over an alleged debt of N500 billion owed the NDDC, noting that judgment on the matter was expected in March this year.
Earlier in her address, Mrs. Semenitari assured the traditional ruler that the NDDC would continue to address the urgent challenges of development in Imo State, in particular, and the region, in general. She said that the most important assignment for the NDDC as an interventionist agency was to become a catalyst for development. “I believe our most compelling call is to facilitate a region-wide collaboration among stakeholders and partners to collectively champion the cause of our people’s development,” she stated.
She said further: “The challenge is enormous. The expectations are enormous. On its own, the NDDC cannot - and was not established to - single-handedly develop the Niger Delta region. Indeed, the NDDC Act of 2000 was clear in that regard. That was at the heart of the facilitation of the Niger Delta Regional Development Master plan, an integrative and integrated roadmap to development which asks that we all join hands to develop the region.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer drew an analogy with a broom and its power to sweep clean. She said: “Until all single fronds are bound together in one broom, we strive in vain to clean a dirty room. When we join our hands together, as partners on project-specific initiatives, such as the highly commendable Ogbia-Nembe Road, in Bayelsa State, which the commission is implementing with Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, we can achieve more and spend less. That project is opening up over 18 agriculture-rich communities and has helped reduce incidents of piracy. On December 31, 2013, the first vehicle drove into Nembe.”
Mrs. Semenitari said that the new NDDC would benefit, greatly from partnering with the traditional rulers in the implementation of its diverse projects and programmes. “It is, indeed, important for the traditional rulers to assist us in intervening in communities where we have found difficulties, due to conflicts, so that we are given every necessary support to work. We also seek your support in drawing attention to projects that are not meeting specifications of standards and timely, professional work, so that we do not short-change our people. We should rather be giving them development that is sustainable to boost their traditional livelihoods,” she said.
She said that “the Niger Delta is far too important a region, both in Nigeria, the West African sub-region and the Gulf of Guinea to be ignored or treated with poor regard. That era is over. We have an administration that is ready to impact, positively, definitely and decisively in improving the fortunes of the people and the region and we must seize this ordained opportunity, as custodians of our people’s collective will.”