The governing board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) yesterday set out a 21-Point focus, with a reaffirmation that it is committed to making the commission’s activities more transparent for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.
The Commission’s Chairman, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) who stated this at the board’s inaugural meeting in Port Harcourt on Thursday noted that it was imperative to create opportunities “for public participation to engender confidence in the activities of the commission by all stakeholders in the region.”
He reiterated the need to win the confidence of all stakeholders in the process of development, stating that the responsibility of changing the fortunes of the Niger Delta and improving the living conditions of the people rested with everyone.
Other points listed by Ndoma-Egba stated include curtailing the indiscriminate award of contractsin the Commission and that the Board’s approval must be obtained for all procurement of projects and programmes.
He said, “The Board must adopt policies that would moderate or streamline the number of new procurements in the Commission, given that as at today, NDDC has over 9000 (nine thousand)ongoing projects, most of which are experiencing funding, implementation and other challenges.
“The Board must determine the status of each ongoing projects and programmes and put in place a mechanism to re-evaluate the viability of some projects, revise the scope of others, re-negotiate the cost of some and relocate or merge others, as well asevolve a strategy for settling verified debts”.
Noting that because of paucity of funds, it was inevitable to prioritise projects and programmes, the NDDC chairman added that “deliberate efforts must be made to determine the number of projects that can be focused upon and quickly completed.
“As a matter of urgency, the corporate headquartersbuilding of NDDC and the remaining state office buildings must be given serious attention by the Board”, he stated.
Other points raised by the Board are as followed: “That appointments and postings of staff must be based on equity, competence and determinable criteria;
“Building synergy with all critical stakeholders especially the Amnesty Programme, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, and relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Development Partners and Security Agencies etc;
“Efforts must be made to implement an NDDC master plan. Ad hoc, “short term” solutions have proved unsustainable;
“We have to transparently and strategically engage critical stakeholders; the Governors, the members of the State Houses of Assembly, the Staff, Traditional Rulers, Oil Companies, Youths (including the agitators) Women, the Disabled, Environmental Right Activists etc. Efficient collaboration will make the Commission an actual Development Agency instead of its present perception as a Contract Awarding Commission;
“Private sector participation will have to be encouraged in the various developmental activities while development partners will be engaged to ensure delivery of relevant projects in the Niger Delta Region;
“Involvement of the Communities in the sustainable clean-up of the environment. Traditional and Community Leaders must be educated on the menace of pipeline vandalism, and its effect on the environment. Communities have to be encouraged on proper waste management and the impact on the economy. The commission will identify beneficial ways of converting waste to wealth;
“Addressing security concerns will be critical to achieving the mandate of the commission. The Security Agencies must be continually encouraged, as security is needed for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta. Traditional ways of justice administration and alternative dispute resolution may be adopted in some cases rather than relying on force at all times, to redress misconduct. People in the informal economy have to be identified and catered for.
“We must put in place a pragmatic youth empowerment policy which will enable the area’s youth to discover their talents and live useful lives. Training and retraining of the youths will continue to benefit the region. Appropriate training modules have to be identified for training the youth of the Region. This will be in consultation with the Amnesty office and development partners. This will improve stability and assure potential investors, local and foreign of the safety of their investment;
“Empowerment of the indigenes has to be sustainable, based on needs assessment. Enhancing the position of women is also very important. Creating opportunities for women will help in addressing their needs and recognize their role in the community as peace makers;
“Appropriate medical facilities and personnel will be deployed for the well being of the people of the region. Trained and qualified manpower will be assembled to attend to individual and specific health needs of the various communities;
“Corporate social responsibilities of International and National oil companies have to benefit the people. These companies will be encouraged to improve their relationship with the host communities under the coordination of a unit of the Commission;
“Improve transportation infrastructure by providing alternative and cheaper means for efficient movement of people and goods;
“Work with relevant agencies of government and the private sector to provide appropriate, alternative and reliable supply of Electricity to the communities especially those of the hinterland in the region;
“Review the scholarship programme to improve local content and Sports development will be encouraged to give our youths a sense of competitiveness”.