Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Nsima Ekere, at the weekend reacted to the recent controversy surrounding the alleged â€˜extensionâ€™ of the tenure of the board of the commission, maintaining that it was a mere â€˜distractionâ€™.
The NDDC chief executive who spoke in Yenagoa during an inspection of the N24.5 billion, Ogbia-Nembe road and other feeder roads within Ogbia, Bayelsa State, urged those fuelling the controversy to allow the current board concentrate on its mandate of developing the region.
He insisted that it was not time for politics yet and called on politicians who are interested in the leadership of the interventionist agency to sheathe their sword until such a time that it is expedient to play politics.
â€œWe should concentrate and allow the present board of the NDDC to deliver on its mandate. We donâ€™t need the kind of distractions that we are getting now. NDDC needs stability in its management to do all these projects.
â€œThe stability is needed for the commission, the stability is needed for the region so that we can concentrate and deliver and not to be distracted by political considerations. I appeal to politicians, to please allow the board and management of NDDC to work and then when the time for politics comes, as I always say, we shall play the politics,â€ he said.
There had been insinuations by some persons from the region that the mandate of the current board was to serve out the tenure of the one sacked in 20I6, while the federal government said the board was given a fresh term of four years which will expire in 2020.
The MD who was accompanied by some ex-agitators, the leadership of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Central Zone, the Executive Director, Projects, Samuel Adjogbe and Bayelsa State representative on the board, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, noted that the project would be completed before the year end.
The Ogbia/Nembe/ Brass road, jointly funded by the NDDC and Shell Petroleum Development Company, (SPDC) with a combined length of 25.7-kilometre, covers 15 coastal communities from the end of former President Jonathanâ€™s Otueke town and is expected to terminate in Brass local council.
It has seven bridges and more than 50 culverts across very difficult terrain, and is expected to open up several communities in the oil-producing areas to modern development.
Ekere said the beneficiaries of the project were deserving of it since a lot of the revenues accruing to the government are derived from the area.
â€œI am indeed very pleased and satisfied with the quality of work done by the contractor on this project. It is noteworthy that this world class performance was achieved despite the very difficult terrain of the Niger Delta region.
â€œThe region has a very challenging terrain and that is why projects usually cost more here than in other places.
â€œTo get this project to this level, the contractor had to remove unsuitable materials for as deep as 25 metres in some portions. The project has also seen the use of vertical drains to take away ground water to allow the road to stabilize,â€ he added.
The MD stated that the Ogbia-Nembe road was a good demonstration of what could be achieved when development agencies, companies and state governments collaborate for the development of the people.
â€œThis is an example for other oil companies operating in the Niger Delta. Shell has shown that in addition to its statutory obligation to contribute to the funding of the NDDC, it is also necessary to work with the commission on specific impactful projects,â€ the NDDC boss said.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Mr. Tare Porri, the IYC Central chairman, urged the NDDC to pick big ticket projects that would change the narrative of the region, stressing that his organisation was not interested in the controversy over the tenure of the current board.
â€œWe are calling on the NDDC to work with the government and people of Bayelsa State to come up with priority projects that would benefit the collective interests of Ijaw people,â€ he said.