NDDC and Ndoma-Egba’s proactive leadership
By Michael Jegede
When former Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, a highly respected politician from Cross River State, was appointed the Chairman Governing Board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, there was no doubt in the minds of many observers that he was going to stir up activities, to place the interventionist agency on the path of progress.
Indeed, President Muhammadu Buhari was widely commended for making the right decision in his appointment of Ndoma-Egba for the top job in the commission, which had derailed and lost focus as far as its mandate upon creation in year 2000 was concerned. The applause given to Buhari for appointing the seasoned lawyer cum politician, as NDDC board helmsman, was borne out of the thinking that only a tested and trusted leader, in the likes of Ndoma-Egba, could provide the kind of leadership needed to change the public’s negative perception of the commission.
At the inaugural meeting of the Ndoma-Egba led board, a 21-point agenda was set to reaffirm the agency’s commitment to making its systems and processes more transparent for the sustainable development of the oil-rich Niger Delta region. While reeling out the agenda, Ndoma-Egba had stated 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 also said due to lack of funds, there was need for the prioritization of projects and programmes, maintaining that “deliberate efforts must be made to determine the number of projects that can be focused upon and quickly completed.”
Ndoma-Egba had equally declared that “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.”
Since he assumed office as NDDC Chairman in November 2016, the ex-Senate Leader has maintained a positive, focused determination in pursuing the realization of the set agenda, in line with the commission’s mandate of ensuring an enhanced and all-round development of the Niger Delta zone. There is no gainsaying the fact that Ndoma-Egba’s proactive and pragmatic leadership has brought NDDC back to life and the narrative is changing for the good of the Niger Deltans.
Several abandoned NDDC projects have been revisited and completed across the length and breadth of Niger Delta, from Abia, to Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers States. Efforts towards skill acquisition training and human capacity building programmes have been intensified by the commission, and this would certainly, help to build sustainable manpower development in the region. Ndoma-Egba has worked harmoniously with the Managing Director (MD), Nsima Ekere and other members of his board, to rekindle hope in the people of the Niger Delta area, through the proper handling of the affairs of the interventionist body.
Recently, the good people of Arondizuogu community in Ideato Local Government Area of Imo State, held an impromptu reception for Ndoma-Egba, when he went on an inspection tour to the Okigwe – Arondizuogu – Akokwa Road currently under construction by NDDC. As the major federal highway linking Imo and Abia States, the road is said to have been in total disrepair for over twenty years and rendered practically impassable until the recent intervention by the development agency.
The NDDC Chairman and his entourage which included Ekere, Commissioners and senior officials of the Commission, ROUDO construction company chairman, Chief Tony Chukwu, were received by members of the Arondizuogu Traditional Council (ATC) and other eminent personalities from the community, according to reports by Odumegwu Okoli of The Arondizuogu Gong.
In his welcome speech, Chairman of ATC, HRH Eze Sir Kossman N. Kanu (Ikenuolueze), expressed profound gratitude to Ndoma-Egba and his team for the road project, which he said, means a lot to his people. He made a fervent plea to the NDDC Chairman for an extension of the road rehabilitation to cover the remaining short stretch of about 3km to benefit more communities. The traditional ruler told Ndoma-Egba that a well-arranged reception would be fixed for December when the entire people of Arondizuogu will properly appreciate and honour him for the smiles he has put on their faces.
Responding, the former lawmaker thanked the people for receiving the project with great joy and excitement. He there and then granted the request made by the ATC chairman, seeking for an extension of the repair work on the road by 3km. He asked the people of Arondizuogu to send their appreciation to Buhari for approving the project, noting that the President has shown an unalloyed commitment towards the overall development of the Niger Delta region.
Speaking on his satisfaction with the quality of the remedial work on the 30-kilometre stretch of the road between Okigwe and Akokwa, the ex-parliamentarian said: “What I have seen meets our set standards in NDDC. I can say that Imo State is special to NDDC as an oil-producing state and we intend to give more attention to projects in the state… Imo State is an important member of the NDDC family and we have been looking at a number of projects not just for this part of the state but also for the oil-producing parts of the state, namely Oguta and Ohaji/Egbema area.”
He further added that the NDDC, under the present board and management, was concerned about the quality of projects being delivered in every community in the oil region, stressing that the interventionist agency was leaving no stone unturned to make sure its roads were of the highest possible quality. He, however, enjoined the benefitting communities to continue to support the Buhari-led Federal Government by creating the enabling environment for projects to be executed, noting that “This is necessary because no development can take place where there is no peace and security. When there is peace, development agencies will be encouraged to do more.”
The NDDC leadership under Ndoma-Egba continues to receive commendations from individuals and groups for good performance, as can be seen in its proactive steps and measures taken to fast track development in the Niger Delta region. Last month, the Vice Chancellor (VC) of University of Uyo (UNIUYO), Professor Enefiok Essien, SAN, hailed the NDDC for the speedy completion of the dual carriageway leading to the entrance of the main campus of the university. Essien likewise acknowledged other supports from the agency to UNIUYO, particularly the building of a modern 500-bed capacity hostel. The hostel project, in the words of the VC, has gathered a new momentum and reached an advanced stage of completion.
Jegede, a journalist writes from Abuja