Port Harcourt — The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, has commended the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC and the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, for completing the N24 billion Ogbia-Nembe Road, in Bayelsa State.
Akpabio, who addressed NDDC management and staff recently during a working visit to the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, said that the success story of the partnership between SPDC and NDDC on the road project, should serve as a challenge to other international oil companies.
He charged NDDC to prioritize signature projects in each of the nine states of the Niger Delta, stressing that these projects should be funded properly, monitored and supervised closely to ensure prompt delivery, so that NDDC would have legacy projects in the region.
The Minister announced plans to start a Post Amnesty Initiative, where industrial clusters would be established across the region to engage youths who graduate from the current Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government.
He noted that the programme would end someday and the youths may be forced to fall back on the NDDC.
“All the nine Niger Delta states will have the industrial clusters that can absorb between 1,000 and 2,000 youths with different skills. We are going to provide for this in the 2020 budget of NDDC. The Ministry and the Commission will collaborate to realize this goal.”
Akpabio stated that the mission of his Ministry and that of the NDDC were similar and that had made it necessary for them to work with one accord.
He said the President means well for the people of the Niger Delta region and he has demonstrated this by ensuring effective development of the region, especially in the area of infrastructure and human capital development.
“We are now united to ensure effective coordination of the development strides of this region. In fact, it is now rapid movement to the next level. Mr. President has placed the supervision of the NDDC under the palms of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs. That is why we are here now to work together. We are now in a marriage.
“The marriage needed to chart a new course for the people of the Niger Delta region. We have to be very frank with ourselves. There is a general consensus that the NDDC could have done better than what it has done in the past.
“So, we have to work together to ensure that NDDC lives up to the expectations of our people. But even if we say that NDDC has not met our expectations, it does not mean that it has not made significant progress. It has contributed a lot to the peace in the region.”
The Minister said that NDDC must drastically curtail its procurement activities by reducing the number of new projects and programmes. “As at today, the NDDC has 12,000 on-going projects and many of them are experiencing funding challenges,” he remarked.
The NDDC Acting Managing Director, Dr Akwagaga Enyia, said the Commission has placed itself on a mission that was in sync with that of the Niger Delta Ministry, anchored on a new narrative that every Kobo expended by the Commission whether on execution of a project or provision of services, must count.
Enyia disclosed that under three weeks, the NDDC had extended its frontiers in the desire to cut poverty by half and transform Niger Delta rural communities.
“We have held discussions followed with Technical Committee Sessions with teams from the Federal Ministries of Finance and Agriculture, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD.
“We are driving a partnership to grow agribusiness in the focal states of the Commission that will target about 10 local government areas in each state. The programme, ‘Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises Project in the Niger Delta, is bringing about $129.2million on the table.”