By Ndubuisi Francis
The federal government has constituted a committee to coordinate the harmonisation of the extant operational development plans in the Niger Delta into a single, coherent and effective regional development strategy.
This is part of overall efforts to intensify and improve on development in the region.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA), Senator Godswil Akpabio, who inaugurated the committee, explained that it became imperative considering President Muhammadu Buhari’s concern and interest to bridge the huge gap between the financial resources available in the region and the actual infrastructural and economic development recorded over the years.
Akpabio, who was represented at the inauguration by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Babayo Ardo, said the president had charged the ministry on the harmonisation of the development plans.
The minister stated: “The two major plans were developed with the assistance of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to support the ministry in coordinating development and implementation some years ago.”
These include the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Regional Development Master Plan and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA), Niger Delta Action Plan.
He noted: “Successive efforts by other stakeholders in the region also led to the initiation of other existing development plans. Therefore, the multiplicity of plans, absence of standardisation and failure to manage the plans led to poor delivery of those plans and their expected outcomes.
“In actualising the presidential directives, an initial study of the existing plans was carried out by a consultant engaged by the ministry. This process produced a strategic document for the development of a united single plan for the region, which would be adopted as a working document for the committee.”
The Director (Press & PR), Patricia Deworitshe, in a statement, noted that while urging the committee to take the assignment very serious, Akpabio outlined the terms of reference.
They include, among others, reviewing the initiating of a framework for the harmonisation of the development plans in the Niger Delta region into a single coherent regional development strategy.
The Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, (MNDA), Mr. Alfred Abah, chairs the committee, which is expected to enhance government’s efforts to achieve the desired development in the region.
Membership of the committee is drawn from the Ministry and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
In his remarks at the inauguration, Abah, while soliciting for the support of the ministry and NDDC, assured the audience that the committee does not have any reason to fail.
He said the committee would start by setting out a work plan and timeline, which will produce the desired result, adding that it would not hesitate to co-opt any of the directorates when the need arises.