The Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, has urged the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC to intensify the monitoring and supervision of its projects across the Niger Delta region to improve delivery.
Mimiko stated this when he received the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Ibim Semenitari, and a team of NDDC directors who paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Akure.
The directors were in Ondo State to inspect ongoing projects and commission completed ones in different parts of the state.
Governor Mimiko said the challenge in driving development in the Niger Delta had largely been that of poor supervision or lack of it and commended the NDDC management for moving around the states to see things for itself and ensure compliance to standards and specifications.
“People do what they like when they are not supervised,” he stated, adding: “I hope that after some time you don’t feel fatigued because the more your state offices see you and know that you are going to be around, they will be more alive to their responsibilities.”
Mimiko, however, advised the NDDC to intervene more on big-ticket projects, “especially those ones that straddle this region, roads, rail lines and port development”.
He said: “I think the focus should be more on mega infrastructure projects. Yes, we can do the little things like street lighting, solar lights and all of that, so I think you should focus more on regional projects. That’s why I am excited about the statement you made about trying to look at your Master plan again, to re-work it. Let’s think of some infrastructural projects that will benefit the region.”
The governor said the NDDC needed a lot of re-engineering to change the negative perception of the agency by some members of the public and suggested that the Commission should do more to put concrete results on ground.
He called for more synergy between the NDDC and the state governments in the execution of projects “so that there can be sustainability of everything that you put on ground”.
Semenitari had told the governor that her team was in Ondo State to ascertain the level of completion of projects, as well as understand what challenges existed, with a view to ensuring that the people of the Niger Delta were given projects that would serve them well and improve their lives.
She informed the governor that the directors had previously visited Abia, Bayelsa, Edo, Delta and Imo States on project inspection, as well as Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers State on other assignments, stating that the team had touched every state in the region and had seen existing challenges.
Semenitari said the governors and stakeholders should revisit the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan, which she described as a rich document facilitated by NDDC with the involved collaboration of all the peoples of the Niger Delta.
“It is a document which, I am convinced, presents an integrated, integrative and worthy roadmap for sustainable regional development,” she stated, adding: “It is the people’s plan. It is one plan we should all return to, to build, from its broad vision, a region of which we shall be proud.
“Our focus in the 2016 budget is on completion of on-going projects. We have, therefore, requested all states in the region to make inputs to our budget, which is now before the National Assembly. Although, we are prioritizing completing of projects, we will devote 20 per cent of the budget to new ones. That is why we asked for contributions from the states.”
Semenitari commended Ondo State for blazing the trail in the recent Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Sciences competition, adding that the State Ministry of Education deserved kudos for its amazing support for the competition.
She explained that the competition was held to drive home to the girl-students the beauty and prospects of tying their future to carriers in STEM-related courses.
She added: “Little wonder that Miss Ayomide Adeyeye, a 13 year-old Senior Secondary School student from your state, took home the ultimate prize. She brought glory to Ondo State and won for herself a five-year scholarship to the university, worth N5 million.”
The NDDC Acting MD said the Commission handed over tractors to integrated farmers in Ondo State as a first step towards boosting their production, noting that with the continual depletion of income earned from oil, the Federal Government was promoting agriculture and aquaculture as important alternatives.
“The NDDC is looking to boost agriculture and aquaculture, as well as other non-oil sectors, in order to boost economic activity in the region and offer more options for the people to earn a living,” she said.
Semenitari said in spite of the disappointing performance of some NDDC contractors, there were some good stories to tell.
She said the Commission awarded a total five regional projects and 35 others since its inception.
Of these projects, 385 have been completed, while 250 are ongoing.
However, she said the performance of the contractor handling the Ayetoro shore-protection and land reclamation was very disappointing, stating: “I was embarrassed by the poor level of work at site of the project. We are trying to do the best we can to ensure that things improve, because we are trying to do the best we can to develop the region.”