The Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, has applauded the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for constructing the N24 billion Ogbia-Nembe Road, carved out of deep mangrove forest and built in partnership with Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC.
Governor Dickson gave the plaudits when the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Prof Nelson Brambaifa, led other directors of the Commission, including the Acting Executive Director Projects, Engr (Dr) Sam Adjogbe, FNSE, to pay him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Yenagoa.
According to the governor, the NDDC has a great capacity for good works in the development of the Niger Delta region, stating: “I want to thank the NDDC for completing the Ogbia-Nembe Road. This is the kind of project NDDC should be embarking on. It was a good partnership.”
He noted that in the course of executing the project, the attention of the Bayelsa State Government was drawn to a funding gap which it promptly filled by advancing N3 billion to the contractor to fast-track the completion of the road.
Dickson enthused: “Our people are today enjoying that beautiful and smooth road to Nembe. Going to Nembe is now pleasurable. That is the kind of partnership we should be having.
“Why can’t we have a similar partnership in constructing the next segment of the road from Nembe to Brass, an oil and gas hub. We are open to that conversation and I will like the NDDC and other players to make serious commitments before the end of my administration in February next year.”
The governor joined the NDDC Acting Managing Director to demand the payment of the N1.9trn owed the commission to enable it to carry out its developmental responsibilities in the oil-rich region.
Dickson called for effective collaborative efforts with the Federal Government’s interventionist agency to design critical projects such as construction of roads and bridges that would accelerate the development of the region.
He decried what he called “politicization of the NDDC” and called for the immediate constitution of the Commission’s Advisory Council to strengthen its processes and enhance collaboration with key stakeholders in the region.
The governor called for greater collaboration in the design and execution of projects by the NDDC. He advised: “Don’t just conveniently sit down and be deciding and designing projects for our region and for state governors.
“I will like to see the NDDC take up big projects. We are battling to take a road to Ekeremor. We are battling to take a road to Oporoma and these are the big ticket items which are the real infrastructural problems facing our people.”
Earlier in his speech, the NDDC Chief Executive Officer expressed the commission’s desire to build synergy with the state government to ensure impactful human and infrastructural development.
Brambaifa said that as an interventionist agency, the NDDC Act envisions that the key development actors in the Niger Delta, especially the state governments should play strategic roles and indeed take leadership roles in the harmonization and acceleration of the development strides in the region.
He said that a functional Advisory Committee would achieve a lot, especially in ensuring that the governors spoke with one voice in asking for the payment of all outstanding statutory obligations to the NDDC in order to fast-track development in the Niger Delta.
He added: “The second item is to use the window of the proposed review of the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan to reflect the development vision of the various states into the development compass and take ownership of the plan using it as an instrument for integrated socio-economic development and regional economic union of the Niger Delta which I believe the governments and people of the region have been attempting through other avenues.”
He told the governor that NDDC had completed 405 projects in the state, while work was on-going in 379 others. He further said that out of a total of 1,043 NDDC projects in the state, 185 were yet to commence.
Some of the projects are the construction of two Niger Delta Regional Specialist Hospitals at Otuoke, one dedicated to Children and Maternity, while the other was for Orthopaedic cases.
Brambaifa assured that NDDC would continue to strengthen the relationship between the Commission and the governments of the Niger Delta, to make them partners and not competitors. “We want a situation where all completed NDDC projects are owned by the benefitting communities to ensure that they are properly maintained for posterity,” he said.