The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has reaffirmed its commitment to making the commission’s systems and processes more transparent for sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.
This was contained in a 21-point focus set out at the board’s inaugural meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State last Thursday as strategic to regional development.
NDDC Chairman, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, stated that it was imperative to create opportunities “for public participation to engender confidence in the activities of the commission by all stakeholders in the region.”
Other points, Ndoma-Egba stated, included curtailing the indiscriminate award of contracts in the commission and that the board’s approval must be obtained for all procurement of projects and programmes.
He said: “The board must adopt policies that would moderate or streamline the number of new procurements in the commission, given that as at today, NDDC has over 9,000 ongoing projects, most of which are experiencing funding, implementation and other challenges.
“The board must determine the status of each ongoing projects and programmes and put in place a mechanism to re-evaluate the viability of some projects, revise the scope of others, re-negotiate the cost of some and relocate or merge others, as well as evolve a strategy for settling verified debts.”
The NDDC chairman also said because of paucity of funds, it was inevitable to prioritise projects and programmes, stating that “deliberate efforts must be made to determine the number of projects that can be focused upon and quickly completed.”
He declared that “as a matter of urgency, the corporate headquarters building of NDDC and the remaining state office buildings must be given serious attention by the board.”
Other points raised by the board included: “That appointments and postings of staff must be based on equity, competence and determinable criteria
“Build synergy with all critical stakeholders especially the Amnesty Programme, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, and relevant ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), development partners and security agencies among others.
“Efforts must be made to implement an NDDC master plan. Ad hoc ‘short term’ solutions have proved unsustainable; We have to transparently and strategically engage critical stakeholders; the governors, the members of the state Houses of Assembly, the staff, traditional rulers, oil companies, youths (including the agitators) women, the disabled, environmental right activists etc. Efficient collaboration will make the commission an actual development agency instead of its present perception as a contract awarding commission;
“Private sector participation will have to be encouraged in the various developmental activities while development partners will be engaged to ensure delivery of relevant projects in the Niger Delta region.
“To involve the communities in the sustainable clean-up of the environment, and traditional and community leaders must be educated on the menace of pipeline vandalism, and its effect on the environment. Communities have to be encouraged on proper waste management and the impact on the economy. The commission will identify beneficial ways of converting waste to wealth.”
Ndoma-Egba also reiterated the need to win the confidence of all stakeholders in the process of development, stating that the responsibility of changing the fortunes of the Niger Delta and improving the living conditions of the people rest with everyone.