Book review: SILVER BULLET FOR NIGER DELTA DEVELOPMENT?

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Introduction:

Everything about Niger Delta seems to have something to do with bullets, and bullets come from guns. For instance, those vandalizing things in the oil region use guns, those chasing them to stop it also use guns. So, bullets everywhere. Now, the intervention agency set out over 18 years to execute development projects as a way of fighting militancy are being told to consider a bullet, a silver bullet. This suggestion comes in the form of a book; Making the Niger Delta Work, written by a journalist, academic and public relations practitioner, Pius Ughakpoteni of the Public Affairs Directorrate of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The review

Yes, Silver bullet! That is the description that best fits the book: “Making the Niger Delta Work,” written by Pius O. Ughakpoteni.

As the silver bullet in folklore is often the only weapon that is effective against monsters, Ughakpoteni’s 60-page book is metaphorically a simple solution to the problem of developing the Niger Delta region as it offers “Strategy Execution Tips from the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan.”

The incisive book combines intellectual prognosis with practical hands-on findings to chart a new way forward for a beleaguered region that holds the oil-wealth of Nigeria. It is not just an academic interrogation of facts; it is far more encompassing because the facts are nourished by the gains of rigorous inquiry.

The author, who describes himself as a journalist-turned public relations and management practitioner, wears the gown of a thoroughbred researcher and a cap of a writer with profound pedigree.

According to him, his current research interest is in sustainability leadership, innovation, change and strategy execution. His doctoral study entails working with C-suite leaders on corporate sustainability performance advancement.

He writes: “Shortly after the creation of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to facilitate the speedy development of the well-endowed but highly beleaguered Niger Delta region of Nigeria, NDDC crafted a development strategy, named the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan (NDRDMP), to change the region by working in concert with a vast array of stakeholders.”

“However, many years into its implementation, academia has, sadly, ignored the factors influencing NDDC’s execution of this widely acclaimed development strategy that could produce the highly-desired change in the Niger Delta.”

Ughakpoteni has through the book shown a good grasp of both the academic and the journalistic world as the work is a synthesis of great ideas and valuable knowledge gathered over many years of criss-crossing the creeks and swamps of the Niger Delta region.

The book is evidence that the raw facts and insights gathered from the many field trips have been enriched by studious intellectual engagements in management seminars, research activities and reviews. Indeed, the work is an insider’s knowledge garnished with a broad world view that has yielded a remarkable and practical approach to socio-economic study.

The “home-base” advantage places the author on a good stead to proffer simple and workable ideas and principles that will be handy for diverse stakeholders in the Niger Delta and the academic community.

Ughakpoteni explains: “This book focuses on the NDRDMP as a change strategy and the desirability of its successful execution. It examines props and obstacles to execution of the NDRDMP and makes practical proposals, which should be helpful to all top executives and leaders with stakes in the Niger Delta, all participants in the intended review of the NDRDMP, strategy scholars and everyone else drawn to strategy execution generally.”

Readers of this concise book have been presented with a good bargain because Ughakpoteni packs the power of an inquisitive researcher and the diction of good writer.

The book which addresses a critical question for the speedy development of the Niger Delta draws from a wellspring of knowledge brewed in the international arena.

The author lets us in on some of the shop-floor activities that gave birth to the book. He tells us about the contributions of the York St. John University, United Kingdom and Robert Kennedy College faculty, as well as his fellow graduate students who participated in the April 2012 Residency in York.

He says: “The seed for this book was sown during our discussions at the Residency.” Thus, he acknowledges the inputs of Prof Stuart Wallace, who supervised his dissertation for Master of Arts in Leading Innovation and Change.

It is often said that the taste of the pudding is in the eating. In this wise, since the author is an active participant in the activities of the NDDC, the interventionist agency that is leading the charge in the implementation of the Niger Development Master Plan, he is well placed to give a dispassionate account.

Going through the book, which one can easily read at a sitting, one cannot help but appreciate the author’s full understanding of the intricacies of the arduous task of developing the Niger Delta region.

The immense value of the book is better appreciated in the light of the current efforts to review the 15-year development plan. The postulations and recommendations of the author will definitely aid in the process of working out the best strategy for confronting the Niger Delta challenge.

Perhaps, it is not surprising that the style of the book is simple and appealing. The language could not have been better, considering the journalistic background of the author.

The book comes in six chapters of flowing prose spiced with illustrative tables and charts. The first chapter outlines the background to the research, leading seamlessly to the subsequent chapters that detail the in-depth findings presented in the book.

In the concluding chapters, 5 and 6, thought-provoking conclusions and valuable recommendations were laid out. From the author’s suggestions, two facts stand out. “One is that the factors that influence strategy implementation are changeable. The other is that leaders and managers must continually intervene to make the needed changes.”

Above all, the author declares: This study provides an empirical basis for a review of the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan and points the way to successful implementation of other existing and future strategies for making the Niger Delta work.

The author says the book, which is published by LAMBERT Academic Publishing, is available in Amazon.