The newly installed management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has moved to reduce tension, pains, and hatred for the federal government by at least paying contractors promptly.
The Prof Nelson Briambaifa-led management has been meeting with various aggrieved groups to assuage their bruised feelings in the past three years. Contractors are one of the groups being pacified. The new management assured its contractors and consultants that henceforth their payments would be paid promptly without unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks.
The NDDC Acting Executive Director Finance and Administration (EDFA), Mr Chris Amadi, gave the assurance when he paid a courtesy visit to the palace of monarch of Apara Rebisi of Port Harcourt, Victor Woluchem XII, the key landlords of the federal secretariat.
Amadi affirmed that the NDDC director of finance had been charged to ensure that a more efficient process was applied in paying for projects and meeting contractor obligations. The delay in payments affected many groups including critical service groups whose frustrations are said to have injured the popularity and credibility of the Commission. Petty debts were said to have piled up.
He said: “In a couple of days, we are going to start payment to contractors owed between N20million and below. There will be no need for contractors and consultants to come to the NDDC before they can get their payments. They can simply stay in their homes or offices and give us the necessary information.”
The executive director said that the new management had resolved to fully discharge the NDDC mandate and intervene in specific projects that would impact on the lives of the majority of the people. “We want to right some wrongs and ensure that never again will our people suffer in the midst of plenty,” he said.
According to Amadi, “Ikwere people are a dominant ethnic group in Rivers State. From available statistics Ikwere has over 55 per cent of the voting population of the state.” He regretted that the ethnic group, with high political sensitivities, never had an opportunity to be in the board or executive level of the NDDC, even from the days of the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission, OMPADEC.
He stated further: “My appointment means a lot to the Ikwere people. They are very happy and I am also happy and humbled. We are very grateful to our leader, Rt. Hon Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, for finding me worthy of recommendation to President Muhammadu Buhari for this appointment.”
Woluchem received the NDDC Executive Director Finance and Administration in the company of Nyenwali Isiokpo, Eze Blessing Nwagor and Nyenweli Akpor, Eze Aniele Orlu-Iriebe.
The Port Harcourt monarch congratulated Amadi on his appointment, describing it as breaking the glass ceiling for Ikwere people. He noted: “As the landlord of the NDDC headquarters, I have been pained in the past because Ikwerre is the dominant ethnic group in Rivers state and we have several oil wells. I don’t know why it took so long to have an Ikwerre son in the executive management of NDDC.”
In his own remarks, the Eze, Aniele Orlu-Iriebe, urged Ikwerre people to set politics aside and support their son. He advised the NDDC to adopt a bottom up approach to development so that communities would feel obliged to own the projects executed for them, adding that the Commission should shun the practice of abandoning projects.
Earlier, the Ikwere Chiefs and Elders Forum had gathered at a reception for the NDDC Executive Director Finance and Administration at the Autograph Event centre in Port Harcourt.
The Chairman of the forum, Chief Sonny Dike, thanked President Buhari and the Minister of Transport, Chibuike Amaechi for elevating their son to an executive position in NDDC. He appealed to Ikwere people to support their brother to succeed, stating that “no one succeeds without the advice of elders.”