The Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, has identified poor implementation of existing plans for the Niger Delta region as the bane of economic development and regional integration in the South-South and South-East.
Speaking at the 2nd South-East, South-South Development Forum, held at the Presidential Hotel, Port Harcourt, the NDDC Chief Executive Officer insisted that the major problem of the region was not lack of plans but the non-implementation of existing ones.
Mrs. Semenitari gave an example with the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan which had not been fully embraced by critical stakeholders. She stressed the need for a more engaging and robust cooperation and collaboration among all stakeholders, from communities to the civil society organizations, from companies and agencies operating in the Niger Delta to governments at all levels.
The NDDC boss said: “For us to succeed as one force unified against regional poverty, against infrastructural gaps and all the indices of adverse development, it is important for us to unite under one unimpeachable vision. The Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan, which the NDDC facilitated, provides such a platform, a worthy pathway and roadmap to sustainable development. It is important that all of us work together to return that plan to its place of pride as the central document to drive development in the region.”
Mrs. Semenitari explained that the Master Plan was the aggregate of the collective yearnings and expectations of the entire Niger Delta. “It was developed by a coalition of all relevant stakeholders in the region, working with local, national and international agencies, collating data from every community of the Niger Delta, on every sphere of human activity. It took from frameworks and established action plans from all over the world, built them around our own realities, and made them homegrown and peculiarly Niger Deltan.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that there was need to find a lasting solution to the prolonged inactivity in Warri, Port Harcourt and Calabar ports, noting that they were strategically located for the operations of those doing business in the South-South and South East zones, which had great potentials for economic boom to create a sustainable livelihood for the people of the region.
The President of the South-East, South-South Professionals of Nigeria, SESSPN, Mr. Emeka Ugwu-Ojo, called for regional integration and economic development to make the region a global investment destination.
He stated that the aim of the association was to transform the region economically by attracting investors. “The advantage of this investment strategy is immense and is certainly the most practical approach to jump-starting the long overdue economic revolution of the region,” he said.
He, however, called for strong political will from decision makers in the country. According to him, ‘for this vision to be realised, it requires a strong political will and leadership from our political leaders, partisanship has to take back seat to common interest of the region to enable adoption and faithful implementation of the elements of the plan that require public sector actions and commitment.”
The Chairman of the organising committee of the programme, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, urged all stakeholders to project a new roadmap for the regional integration and economic development of the region. He said: “What the situation demands is our mutual co-operation to fully unleash our potentials, human and material-wise on the world stage through a new framework of an integrated economy.”