15 November 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has re-stated its commitment to collaborate with state governments in the Niger Delta in the efforts to quicken the development of the oil-rich region.
The NDDC Managing Director, Mr. Nsima Ekere, made this known during a meeting with members of the Bayelsa State NDDC Project Verification Committee at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.
Ekere said that the current NDDC Board and Management were forging a new relationship with various stakeholders in the region, stressing that the Commission was working with a new attitude of cooperation and collaboration.
According to him, “one way that we can successfully make a difference is to increase the level of engagement with major stakeholders in the region.”
Ekere also explained that one of the first decisions taken by the current board was to start the process of re-activating all dormant organs of the Commission, such as the Advisory Committee made up of all the governors of the NDDC member states, to ensure that they took ownership of the Commission’s projects and programmes, as well as check the duplication of efforts.
Ekere said: “We set up budget committees in the states to liaise with the governments and agree on priority projects. Of the nine states in the region, it was only Bayelsa that sat with the NDDC committee to agree on areas of need. We commend the Governor for this.”
As part of the collaboration with states, Ekere added: “We are re-activating the Partners for Sustainable Development (PSD) Forum, which serves as the clearinghouse that brings all the stakeholders under one umbrella to aid the process of harmonizing development projects.”
The NDDC boss commended the state for setting up a project verification committee, assuring that the NDDC would give it the necessary support while expressing concern over the issue of stalled projects, which he said was often erroneously referred to as abandoned projects. He said that the NDDC was determined to change the narrative.
“We will be happier if we have fewer quality projects that can be completed on schedule for the benefit of the people.
“The Commission has so far awarded 893 projects in Bayelsa State, out of which 351 have been completed, which does not include the recent emergency interventions in the state; 271 other projects are on-going, while contractors are yet to mobilize to site for another 196 projects, 54 projects have been stalled and four taken over by the state government, while 17 have been terminated.”
Earlier, the Chairman of NDDC Projects Verification Committee in Bayelsa State, Engr. Charles Ambaiowei said that their assignment was that of fact-finding and not for trouble.
Ambaiowei explained that during the recent visit of NDDC board and management to Governor Seriake Dickson, the impression was given that the state was one of the greatest beneficiaries of NDDC projects.
According to him, “that came to the governor as a surprise because the status of some of the projects listed were doubtful. The governor felt that there was a need for verification of the projects to determine those that have actually been executed.”
Ambaiowei condemned the non-release of statutory funds due to the commission, noting that the Federal Government under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, failed to meet its statutory obligations to the Commission, since its inception in the year 2000.
He explained that the NDDC was getting only 10 percent of funding from the central government, instead of the statutory 15 percent, stating that this may have contributed to the problem of stalled projects.