Towards A Better NDDC: A Post Mortem
The current 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. This piece takes a look at critical steps taken in this respect.
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 being 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 responsible, in part, as to why the Chairman of the Governing Board, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, suggested a change in narrative, strategy and modus operandi as it were, if the NNDC must realize the aims and objectives for which it was setup while contending that the former ways of doing things have hampered the realization 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 day to day, seeing 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 which is geared towards 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 as to where these monies are spent for the host communities contributing to the development of the region, seems logical and fair.
At another level, the Inter Ministerial Meeting chaired by the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to review the 20 point agenda of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resource with regards to the Niger Delta and take a critical look at abandoned projects under the NDDC with a view to doing something about it.
The meeting also reassessed the environmental management in the Niger Delta under Federal Ministry of Environment and a review of the amnesty programme and the 16 point demands of the Pan Niger Delta Forum with a need to harmonize the agenda with that of Petroleum Ministry, State Government's blue print and the Amnesty office, while ensuring that it is 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 17th March 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 efforts which has since started is to be reinvigorated, for 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 for 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.
Clara Braide is the Special Assistant on Communication to NDDC Chairman