Renewed Hope: X-raying People-oriented Projects of NDDC in Niger Delta

X-raying the infrastructure and human capacity development in the Niger Delta Region in recent years, the current developmental strides sighted in the region will call for an appraisal of the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Blessing Ibunge reports that the commission is achieving its mandate as enshrined in the act establishing the agency in 2000

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is a federal government intervention agency established by then-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration in 2000 with the mandate of developing the oil-rich Niger Delta region. Its mission is to ensure the region’s sustainable development that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative, and politically peaceful.
The NDDC has in the past years managed by various appointees, but the current happenings, especially the developmental strides seen in different communities both in rural and urban cities, have created a greater hope for the oil-rich region, as the agency which was once seen and alleged as a cash cow for politicians is now transformed and beginning to create positive impact with the emergence of the current management board led by the Chairman, Mr Chiedu Ebie and Managing Director, Dr Samuel Ogbuku.

Following the activities carried out by the NDDC recently, THISDAY assessed how the Ogbuku leadership is enhancing infrastructure, improving healthcare access for the people, empowering communities through education, skills and jobs, sustainable environmental management, facilitating agricultural development, and fostering social welfare programs in the region.
In achieving its target of changing the ill description of the reason for the agency’s establishment, the new NDDC management board keyed into President Bola Tinubu’s ‘Renewed Hope Agenda’, considering the grassroots and ensuring satisfaction in the region’s development. There is evidence of serious and committed efforts to see that some of the abandoned people-oriented projects are completed since it will also serve as relief for the people yearning for development in the past years. The commission has remained a catalyst for impacts and infrastructure development.

Construction of Roads, Bridges

Within a few months, the NDDC constructed and rehabilitated 5 141.3 kilometres of roads through swamps and forests, 42 bridges, thousands of hydraulic structures and 87 jetties across the region.
Speaking through a virtual presentation at a recent NDDC region-wide media engagement in Port Harcourt, Ogbuku said that the NDDC is committed to the completion and commissioning of all ongoing projects across the Niger Delta region. He said the major projects in Abia, Edo, Ondo, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom were a testimony of the new passion the NDDC was delivering on its mandate.
The NDDC boss stated that Tinubu had charged the Commission to complete and commission signature projects that would impact the lives of Niger Deltans. Ogbuku noted that the NDDC had so far inaugurated the 25.7-kilometre Ogbia-Nembe Road in Bayelsa, which we executed in partnership with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), the 600-meter Ibeno Bridge and the 6.87-kilometre Iko-Atabrikang-Opolom-IwuoAchang Road, in Ibeno Local Government Area, of Akwa Ibom State, as well as the 9-kilometre Obehie-Oke-Ikpe Road in Ukwa West LGA of Abia.
Other roads rehabilitated and inaugurated were Ididep Ekpenyong Ikot Etim Afaha Itiat, Uquo-Akpautong-Odoronkit-Ntak-Inyang-Etebi, Esit Eket Roads in Akwa Ibom, Ugilaimai-Ogume, Abbi, Onicha-Ugbo, Udumuje-Ugboko-Ewohimi Bridge and Roads in Delta, the Port Harcourt-Owerri Road and the Atani/Amuvi Road in Arochukwu, Abia. The NDDC has numerous ongoing road projects across the region.

Improving Healthcare Access for People

To ensure better health conditions for the people, the Commission has invested in healthcare infrastructure, including the construction of 142 health centers and hospitals, all of which are equipped with modern facilities. Taking the media executives on a virtual tour of NDDC projects on Thursday, the Executive Director of Projects, Mr Victor Antia, said that the NDDC had resumed its free healthcare programme, which caters to the needs of rural communities, as part of the Commission’s commitment to enhance healthcare delivery to the people of the Niger Delta region.
He said, “In the ongoing free medical outreach across the nine Niger Delta states, 20,000 surgeries have been performed, while 45,000 patients have been attended to, 27,000 eyeglasses distributed, 88,900 administered typhoid vaccine doses, and distribution of 36,000 sets of essential drugs.”

Improving Security in the Region

The NDDC, through its Department of Dispute and Conflict Resolution (DCR), has continued to ensure friendly relationships with communities in the region. It has also joined various security agencies to promote peace and security across communities in the region. During a recent strategic capacity-building training on conflict management and a peace-building- approach for its personnel, Mr Patrick Ekade, NDDC’s Director of Human Resources and Administration, said conflicts had affected the commission adversely in the past, which he said had stalled some of their projects.
Ekade noted that the regular training of the staff was important because it equipped them with peace-building skills, saying that it helps the commission in engagement with the communities regarding conflict issues due to the projects it would be having in the area.
The Director of the Conflict and Dispute Resolution Department at NDDC, Ayewumi Goddy, noted that the training would resolve many issues, citing the conflict in the Okuama community in Delta.

Ayewumi said, “This training is going to solve alot of issues in the region, because the MD, Dr Samuel Ogbuku is a man of vision. What that means is that we are going to be doing things in a more transparent way. This programme is the idea of the MD where NDDC  personnel are trained as managers of conflict. Conflict should not arise before we move, but once we observe anything that we lead to conflict we move.”
He added, “Like the issue in Delta state, the MD of NDDC is working underground with the military to ensure peace in Okuama and in the entire region. To ensure that oil production is at the optimum output level. Staff are going to be managers of conflict.”

Ensuring Social Services, Economic Empowerment, Education and Youth Development

The Executive Director of Projects, Mr Antia, also highlighted the development in the education sector, including the Foreign Post-Graduate Scholarship Programme of the NDDC, during the media tour. He disclosed that 2,323 students in the region had so far benefited from it.
He said, “We have commenced the process for the 2024/2025 scholarship programme.”
Antai highlighted other education developments in the region, including providing 107,480 educational items to schools, rehabilitating 924 schools, and building 1,571 hostel rooms.
The NDDC provided relief materials to the affected populations to cushion the effects of floods, other disasters, and other regional conflict-related issues. The Ogbuku-led NDDC has supported vulnerable groups, including widows, orphans, the elderly, and people with disabilities, and has also upgraded correctional facilities.

The NDDC launched Project HOPE to match youths with jobs and training opportunities. It also hosted the Port Harcourt Tech Expo to foster innovation and technological advancement, with the mission of creating a peaceful environment free of crisis and insecurity. It installed 56,786 solar streetlights across the nine states, constructed and rehabilitated 678 water schemes in various communities and reclaimed 427.16 hectares of land for development across the region.
Senate President Godswill Akpabio, while representing President Tinubu at the inauguration of the N10 billion Iko-Atabrikang-Opolom-IwuoAchang Road project, which includes the 600-meter Ibeno Bridge in Ibeno LGA of Akwa Ibom, noted that the present board of the commission is the first to focus on addressing the problems of the region just one year in office.

Akpabio, who described the project as a significant milestone in the development of the region, stated, “I am glad to see the progress being made in the Niger Delta region with the completion of this impactful road and bridge. I commend the Minister of Niger Delta Development and the NDDC for their efforts in seeing this project through. This project marks a step forward in the roadmap to transform Nigeria’s infrastructure. It is heartening to witness the positive impact of the new NDDC in the region, which is totally uncommon.”
Also, during the inauguration of the N24 billion Ogbia-Nembe Road in Bayelsa State jointly executed by the NDDC, and the SPDC, the Minister for Niger Delta Development, Abubakar Momoh, said that the project demonstrated the commitment of the Federal Government to development and peace in the Niger Delta region.

However, he charged all development partners, especially the International Oil Companies (IOCs), to emulate SPDC and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPCL), TotalEnergies, and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), which collaborated with NDDC on the Ogbia-Nembe Road and bridges project, on continuous innovative and human development projects in the region.

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