Towards a better NDDC By Clara Braide

Thecurrent leadership of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) headed by Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba has had its hands full from inception, in its bid to remake the narrative that has hitherto plagued the commission.

Since the special intervention aimed at enhancing the sustainable development of the Niger Delta, a move which birthed the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as it is known today by the NDDC Act of 2000, this laudable initiative, some say, has been fraught with all manner of irregularities, a narrative currently being reworked by the current management.

This has been why the Chairman of the Governing Board, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, suggested a change in narrative, strategy and modus operandi so that the NNDC can realize the aims and objectives for which it was setup. The former ways of doing things have hampered the realisation of the agency’s objectives.

This injection of a new policy direction seems to cascade down to the day-to-day running of the commission under the Managing Director/CEO, Mr. Nsima Ekere, whose responsibility it is to run the affairs of the Commission. He sees that the objectives of the interventionist agency are in harmony with both the people in the benefiting communities and the federal government’s overall plans for the region.
To kick-start and bring the new policy drive to life, a meeting with the executives of Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) was held, with a view to including them in the budgetary process of the Commission in carrying out relevant projects initiated especially by the IOCs and OPTS within the host communities where their major operations exist.

This move is premised on the fact that since the oil producers are part of the major contributors to the NDDC budgetary allocations, allowing them to have a say on where these funds are spent for the host communities contributing to the development of the region, seems logical and fair.

At a.nother level, the Inter-Ministerial Meeting chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, is to review the 20-point agenda of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources with regards to the Niger Delta and take a critical look at abandoned projects under the NDDC with a view to doing something about them. The meeting also reassessed the environmental management in the Niger Delta under Federal Ministry of Environment and reviewed the amnesty programme and the 16-point demands of the Pan Niger Delta Forum with a view to harmonize the agenda with that of Petroleum Ministry, State Government’s blueprint and the Amnesty Office, while ensuring that they are rolled up into one workable plan.

Shifting gears, NDDC also directed contractors responsible for abandoned projects to return and recommence work immediately, setting up a 30–day deadline with effect from March 17, 2017 by which contractors would be prosecuted for failure to heed the Commission’s directives. This is a clear manifestation of the ‘business unusual’ nature of the current leadership.
More importantly, more awareness on the ongoing Niger Delta Clean Up effort which has since started is to be reinvigorated, which Federal Ministry of Environment is to facilitate and sustain.

In the final analysis, Senator Ndoma-Egba, understanding that it may not be easy as the current move will need a total overhaul in the ways of doing things, had hitherto canvassed and advocated increasing community participation and sense of ownership in the minds of host communities of NNDC projects as the way forward for the sustainability and maintenance of NNDC projects, after completion and eventual commissioning.

Braide is the Special Assistant on Communication to NDDC Chairman

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