*Commission completes 7,833 projects in 24 years
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja and Okon Bassey in Uyo
The federal government has urged the new board and management of the Niger Delta Commission (NDDC) to collaborate with critical stakeholders, especially the state governments, saying this was necessary to leverage opportunities in achieving the presidential deliverables.
It also admonished the commission to cautiously strive to enthrone a regime of strengthened institution through transparent and realistic adherence to financial regulations, public procurement acts, public service rules, and compliance with administrative guidelines.
Minister in charge of the ministry, Abubakar Momoh gave the admonition during a management retreat of the NDDC.
The retreat with the theme: ‘Renewed Hope: A New Era for Vitality, Peace and Development’ ended in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State at the weekend.
Momoh said: “There is a need to cautiously monitor and evaluate the performances of all contracts to ensure compliance. On our side as a ministry, we would make sure that monitoring measures are put in place to guarantee quality and ensure projects implemented stand the test of time.
“We need to do things differently with the new board so that people can see the value for money spent.”
The former lawmaker noted that in his ministry’s commitment to make a difference, it prioritised the harmonisation of all development programmes and plans into a single integrated regional development plan and a roadmap to accelerate the development of the region.
The minister stated that the retreat presented the opportunity to interrogate and prescribe solutions in “our corrective quest for sustainable development.”
“It’s a platform in which management and stakeholders come together to brainstorm; cross-pollinate ideas, and chart new way forward. It is a veritable opportunity for us to examine some of the factors that have militated against the collective and efficient operations of NDDC in the last few years and we have a lot to learn from the presence of past leaders of the organisation.
“If we must make any headway in charting the desired roadmap for sustainable development, all hands must be on deck with every courage, it deserves to tackle these factors that have constituted a clog in the wheel of the development programmes and policies in the region. In specific terms, today marks the rebirth of another era in the management of NDDC.
“To this end, I urge the new board and management of NDDC to cautiously strive to enthrone a regime of strengthened institution through transparent and realistic adherence to financial regulations, public procurement acts, public service rules, and compliance with administrative guidelines.
“Also, collaboration with critical stakeholders, especially with the state governments is necessary to leverage the opportunities in achieving the presidential deliverables.
“There is a need to cautiously monitor and evaluate the performances of all contracts to ensure compliance. On our side as a ministry, we would make sure that monitoring measures are put in place to guarantee quality and ensure projects implemented stand the test of time. We need to do things differently with the new board so that people can see the value for money spent,“ he said.
Speaking earlier, the NDDC Chairman, Mr. Chiedu Ebie called for the adoption of strategies that would enable the introduction and establishment of coordinated development in the region.
He stated that at the end of the retreat, there should be the awareness that the main parameters for the assessment as board members and management staff would be dependent on the way they discharge their responsibilities.
Also, in his presentation, the Managing Director/CEO NDDC, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, in his presentation titled, “The Journey So Far and the Road Ahead”, noted that the commission had done a lot in the provision of education, clean water, good health facilities, roads, medical outreach, training, among others.
He added that even with this, a lot of people have different impressions of the commission.
Ogbuku said over the years, the NDDC had completed 7, 833 projects while 3,427 are ongoing to mitigate developmental challenges.
However, he observed that in the course of doing this, mistakes were made resulting in many abandoned projects.
Also, NDDC has stressed that a reviewed and updated Niger Delta Regional Developmental Master plan remains a crucial framework for guiding and implementing development initiatives in the Niger Delta.
A communique issued weekend at the end of a two day retreat for the Commission’s Board & Management insisted that there can be no sustainable development without developmental plans.
The retreat equally noted that frequent changes in the governing board of the commission have largely accounted for the challenges in project execution and delivery in the development of the region.
Participants called on the federal government to ensure that the current Board completes its tenure and that there is continuity in succeeding Boards to ensure sustainability of the commission’s projects.
“There is need for proper synergy, collaboration and coordinating framework between the Ministry of Niger Delta Development, State Governments in the regions, the NDDC and development partners,” it posited.
It stated that the board and management of the NDDC must effectively discharge their responsibility to manage the procurement process involving all stakeholders, without sacrificing the core objectives as provided under the Procurement Act.
“There is the need for the urgent release of all outstanding statutory contributions of the federal government to the NDDC fund, as the non-release of these funds has significantly hampered the ability of the Commission to deliver on its mandate.
“In view of the peculiar construction window of the Niger Delta region, there is the need for some form of financial autonomy for the NDDC outside the Treasury Single Account (TSA) regime.
“This is as part of the process of getting the commission take advantage of traditional credit sources in completing its projects and deliver real impact and sustainable development to the longsuffering people of the region.
“That there is need for the board and management to acquaint themselves with relevant rules, in order to effectively discharge the responsibilities imposed under extant laws.
“Consequently, the NDDC needs to ensure that its projects and programmes are procured in line with extant rules and laws,” it stated.