NDDC: Meeting the demands of the Niger Delta people
A news analysis by Emmanuel Mogbede, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was established in 2000 by the Federal government to develop the oil-rich Niger Delta region of the country.
Domiciled in the Niger Delta ministry, one of the core mandates of the Commission is to train and educate the youths of the oil rich Niger Delta regions to curb hostilities and militancy, while developing key infrastructure to promote diversification and productivity.
Other mandates include:
1. Formulation of policies and guidelines for the development of the Niger Delta area.
- Conception, planning and implementation, in accordance with set rules and regulations, of projects and programmes for sustainable development of the Niger Delta area in the field of transportation including roads, jetties and waterways, health, employment, industrialisation, agriculture and fisheries, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and telecommunications.
Surveying the Niger Delta in order to ascertain measures necessary to promote its physical and socio-economic development.
Preparing master plans and schemes designed to promote the physical development of the Niger Delta region and the estimation of the member states of the Commission.
Implementation of all the measures approved for the development of the Niger Delta region by the Federal Government and the states of the Commission.
Identify factors inhibiting the development of the Niger Delta region and assisting the member states in the formulation and implementation of policies to ensure sound and efficient management of the resources of the Niger Delta region.
Assessing and reporting on any project being funded or carried out in the region by oil and gas companies and any other company, including non-governmental organisations, as well as ensuring that funds released for such projects are properly utilised.
Tackling ecological and environmental problems that arise from the exploration of oil mineral in the Niger Delta region and advising the Federal Government and the member states on the prevention and control of oil spillages, gas flaring and environmental pollution.
Liaising with the various oil mineral and gas prospecting and producing companies on all matters of pollution, prevention and control.
Executing such other works and performing such other functions, which in the option of the Commission are required for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region and its people.
The position of Executive Chairman of the NDDC has been a subject of much debate. A compromise was reached where the position would be rotated within the nine oil producing states in alphabetical order: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross river, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.
But the board has not been constituted since January 2020 when the previous board was disbanded to allow forensic investigation.
On June 10, the House of Representatives asked President Muhammadu Buhari to constitute the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The lawmakers urged the government to comply with sections 4 and 12 (1) of the NDDC Act, by appointing Chairman of the commission from Delta State, Managing Director from Ondo State and Executive Director, Finance and Administration from Edo State.
After debate, the House resolved as follows: To urge the federal government to adhere to the provisions of section 4 of the NDDC Act, 2000 by considering Delta State which is next in alphabetical order for the position of the chairmanship of the board.
To urge the federal government to adhere to the provision of section 12(1) of the NDDC Act by considering Ondo, Edo and Imo States for the positions of Managing Director, Executive Director Finance and Administration, and Executive Director Projects of the Board respectively.
The first candidate touted by stakeholders from Delta state is Dr Cairo Ojougboh, who is the immediate past Executive Director of Project of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). He is from Ika South of Delta and he is a trained medical doctor and former member of the House of Representatives.
He graduated from the University of Benin with a Bachelor of Medicine (MBBS) in 1985 and contested the Delta governorship election in 2019.
He was a Presidential Liaison Officer on National Assembly (NASS) and Special Assistant to the President on NASS between 2007 – 2011.
He was also the Chairman, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) and Presidential Spokesman APC, Presidential Campaign Council Delta.
Ojougboh as Executive Director of project of the NDDC initiated the verification of projects before payment which angered fraudulent contractors and some power brokers in the region.
Most Delta Stakeholders who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) believed that Ojougboh is the best man for the post of the NDDC Board Chairman.
His preference they said is due to his a no nonsense attitude and the capacity and ability to turn the commission around for good for the whole people of Niger Delta.
A member of the Senate leadership, who prefer to remain anonymous, however, said that the Senate would consider any nominee of the presidency based on merit.
The source recalled that Ojougboh’s name was earlier presented by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs at a stakeholder meeting as the preferred choice for the position.
This, the source said was applauded as there was no dissenting voice.
The second candidate touted is Bernard Okumagba who is believed to be a thorough bred technocrat and administrator. He is from Warri South Local Government Area of the Delta South Senatorial District of Delta State.
He served as Delta State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget from August 2007 to November 2010 and was subsequently appointed Commissioner for Finance and served in that capacity from November 2010 to May 2011.
Okumagba is a Leader of the All Progressives Congress from Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.
The appointment of any of these two people from Delta state would quickly serve as a proactive measure to address the various agitations and curb any unlikely unrest that may arise from lack of board members of the NDDC.
As the elder stateman Edwin Clark told the News Agency of Nigeria, the two most be appropriately screened and all consideration must be taken to give an acceptable candidate to the people.
“The two persons involved are from my state and are my children, but all am interested in, is for a board to be inaugurated for the commission.
Clark said the inauguration of a new board for the commission was critical to enable it realise its mandate of impacting positively on the lives of the people in the region.
Speaking on the commission`s forensic audit initiated by Ojougboh to verify projects before payments were made, Clark expressed hope that a new board would deliver a more acceptable audit.
He noted that the forensic audit which did not go down well with fraudulent contractors and some power brokers in the state had gulped so much monies.
If used please credit the writer and News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)