We Need Private Sector for Infrastructure Development, Says NDDC MD

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Sylvester Idowu in Warri

The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Mr. Nsima Ekere, has said the Commission has embraced the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) option to galvanise the infrastructure delivery drive in the Niger Delta region.

The NDDC Chief Executive Officer made the disclosure weekend during a courtesy visit by a delegation from the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.

Ekere, who was represented by the NDDC Executive Director Projects, Engr. Samuel Adjogbe, remarked that the NDDC was urgently seeking ways to stimulate industrial growth in the region, noting that it was adopting the PPP option in the execution of a Niger Delta Regional Power Pool Project.

According to a statement signed by Director, Corporate Affairs, Ibitoye Abosede and sent to THISDAY, Ekere remarked that the power project was one of the critical areas where private sector participation was required to encourage investors to set up industries in the Niger Delta, lamenting that the high cost of power in the region was increasing the operational cost of industries and thus serving as a disincentive.

He noted that there was need to make a deliberate effort to set up projects that can boost power and attract investors to the region, adding “We have identified industrial parks in different parts of the region and we intend to support them with the power project.”

Ekere said the NDDC was partnering the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and the Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM) to help provide employment for the youths.

He added that the Commission was working towards establishing Nigeria’s first and grandest enterprise innovation and growth hub in the Niger Delta, stressing that the Commission was also working on setting up the Niger Delta Development Bank to ensure sustainable development beyond oil.

“We are determined to create more jobs to fight unemployment. We want to fight poverty, we want to fight restiveness and this is one way we can use to ensure that militancy is eradicated in the Niger Delta.
“We need an attitudinal change in the Niger Delta. We have agitated long enough. We now need to harness our energies for development efforts”, Ekere added.

He said internet penetration in the Niger Delta was another area of focus for the Commission, in its efforts to link the entire region with fibre optics recalling that the leadership of the Commission recently visited São Tomé and Principe to discuss with the country’s Prime Minister on the possibility of benefiting from their own excess internet capacity.

The Acting Director-General of ICRC, Engr. Chidi Izuwah Snr, said the delegation was in the Niger Delta region on a monitoring visit to Federal PPP/Concession projects in Port Harcourt and Onne areas.

He said infrastructural development was important, considering the magnitude of government expenditures in recent years and the level of infrastructure deficit in Nigeria adding. that Infrastructure and its related services are critical to the operation and efficiency of a modern economy.

Given the huge amounts needed and the drive necessary for development, Izuwah said the Nigerian government lacked the resources to drive development on its own and had thus among other options embarked upon the use of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).

Consequently, he affirmed that the huge and extensive responsibility of the NDDC in fast-tracking the development and growth of the Niger Delta region should be implemented using the PPP option.

Towards this end, he proposed a summit on revolutionising infrastructure delivery in the region through PPP which would be convened by NDDC in collaboration with the ICRC to showcase and highlight to investors, financiers and development actors the critical infrastructure value chain opportunities in the region.