- Â As NDDC begins emergency repairs on East – West road
Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba at the weekend declared that dialogue and not militancy remains the most suitable option that would lead to the overall development of the Niger Delta region.
Ndoma-Egba stated this on the sidelines of an interactive event by leaders and stakeholders from the region tagged â€˜Dialogue in the Niger Deltaâ€™, held at the Tinapa international business resort, Calabar.
Fielding questions from journalists, the NDDC chairman said peace rather than militancy would encourage investments, and hasten infrastructural development in the region.
â€œDialogue is a singsong for the region now so, we donâ€™t miss any opportunity to emphasis the need for dialogue because we believe that violence, militancy, and hostility are no longer options.
â€œSo, every opportunity to dialogue, we take it because we think that the region needs to be safe, needs to be secured, and needs to be peaceful for the much needed development to come in.
â€œIn my remark, I made it very clear that militancy was no longer an option, that we must continue to explore option of dialogue, and the reason is simple; that we need investment in the region. Investments donâ€™t go to hostile regions, and we must create a peaceful region that will be able to absolve the much needed investment, and we must bring the investors back. We can only do so when we commit to a peaceful atmosphereâ€, Ndoma-Egba said.
In stating that there was need for the implementation of a master plan for the development of the region, Ndoma-Egba said: â€œI donâ€™t know whether there will be a new master plan or whether it is going to be an upgraded master plan or revalidated master plan, but we definitely need a master plan for the regionâ€¦.We must have systematic plan for the development of the region, and that is what the master plan is for.
â€œWe are at the point of identifying the stakeholders because the master plan must be stakeholdersâ€™ owned, stakeholdersâ€™ generated. So we are at the point of identifying the stakeholders, and coordinating the stakeholders so that work can immensely start. We at least, have sent out a template on what we need to achieve in the master planâ€.
Ndoma-Egba said though the amnesty programme was not one of the primary responsibilities of the NDDC, however, it would cooperate with the agencies whose primary responsibility it was in driving the amnesty programme to success.
â€œThe commission is not involved, per say, in the amnesty project. We are linked because we are all about interventions in the region to secure development, and to secure peace. The amnesty programme is a specific intervention to rehabilitate those who are involved in militancy, and get them back to productive life. So, it is an intervention programme that is separate from what we do, but to the extent that our activities affect the region, and we think that at some point, we have to collaborate.
Ndoma-Egba assured the people that though the current board of the NDDC was just six months in the saddle; they will deliver on their mandate because it is not â€œbusiness as usual.â€
Meanwhile, the NDDC has started emergency repairs on some of the failed portions of the East-West Road, especially the dilapidated sections between Eleme Junction and Onne Junction.
The Director, Corporate Affairs of the commission, Mr. Ibitoye Abosede, said this in a statement weekend. Abosede said the NDDC Executive Director, Projects, Mr. Samuel Adjogbe, inspected the ongoing repairs on the road on Friday.
He quoted Adjogbe as saying that the emergency intervention was a follow-up to the commitment made recently by the commission to save the road from total collapse.
He recalled that the NDDC Managing Director, Mr. Nsima Ekere, had assured the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, who visited the commission on June 16 that contractors would be mobilised to carry out emergency repairs.
The director said the emergency repairs was the only remedy to what he described as a critical situation, adding that the intervention was necessary to save the very busy and important road artery in the Niger Delta.
Adjogbe said the NDDC had to embark on the urgent repairs to arrest the deterioration of the road and reduce the pains of motorists commuting to Akwa Ibom and Cross River States. He said he was hopeful that the emergency repairs would be completed within 30 days.
He expressed satisfaction with the performance of the contractor, adding; â€œWe want to encourage local contractors to continue to improve on their capacity to deliver quality projects for the benefit of the people. This is very important to the NDDC and I am pleased that people in this area are happy with what the contractor is doing here.â€
The site engineer for the construction firm, Mr. Celestine Egbe, said because of the nature of the soil in the area, they were excavating several metres of unsuitable materials before filling back with sharp sand. He noted that they had made substantial progress since they mobilised equipment to site one week ago.
The NDDC recently told the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs that it would take over N70 billion to complete the construction of the East-West Road which straddles the six South-South States.