By Ignatius Chukwu
The Niger Delta master plan is up for review again. Efforts in the past to conduct this exercise had hit the rocks. Besides, pessimism persists over the success of the first master plan as no CEO of the development commission seemed to follow any direction.
Now, stakeholders in Nigeria’s oil-bearing region have resolved to revisit and review the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan, which expired in 2020. They said this is to provide sustainable focus for the region.
They also resolved that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) should prioritise key sectors that would have huge impact on the standard of living of the people of the Niger Delta region, especially in infrastructure, education, health and agriculture.
The resolutions were contained in a communique issued at the end of the recent three-day Board/ Management Retreat held at the Ibom Icon Hotels and Golf Resort in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
In the communique issued by members of the NDDC Governing Board, and made available to journalists, the stakeholders equally resolved that the Commission should consider implementing legacy projects that have the potential to benefit the people of the region, reduce poverty and improve the conditions of living of the people.
The stakeholders further resolved: “That the NDDC in its determination to take the region to greater heights shall engage in Public Private partnership arrangements with State Governments, International Oil Companies (IOCs) as well as International Donor Agencies with a view to executing mega projects for the region.”
According to the communique, the presentations, group discussions at the retreat, addressed critical issues meant to ensure that the Board was abreast of the imperatives of its role, its relationship with the Ministry and Public Service Provisions in handling Government business in addition to repositioning the Commission for effective service delivery.
The communique posited that the Presidency should initiate the process of amending the NDDC (Establishment etc) Act 2000 to bring it in line with current challenges and realities.
It noted: “There should be a clear definition of roles and responsibilities according to the Establishment Act of both the Ministry and the Commission.
“There should be effective, strategic, timely communication and feedback between the Ministry and the Board.
“There should be due adherence to all extant Rules and Regulations, especially the NDDC Act and other Government Circulars as applicable to MDAs.”
According to the communique, the stakeholders stressed that the NDDC should pay particular attention to the security of lives and property and the protection of the poor and weak in the society, adding that the Commission should improve its youths and women empowerment programmes.
The communiqué stated: “Statutory thresholds and due process requirements regarding Procurement processes should be strictly complied with, to ensure improvement in the Commission’s procurement process.
“That Board, Management and Ministry relationship requires effective and intentional stakeholder engagement to eliminate suspicion and grey areas.”
“The Board should prioritize transparency and accountability in the activities of the Commission by publishing regular reports on the Commission’s activities as well as being open to public scrutiny.”
The communiqué also urged that proper Needs Assessment to be carried out through consultation with relevant stakeholders to reflect the real and actual needs of the communities.
It said: “There is a need for strategic stakeholder Management, effective communication and Conflict Management Plan respectively to facilitate the required stakeholder collaboration and synergy imperative for sustainable development of the region.
The stakeholders charged the NDDC to put in place a system that ensures that statutory revenues due to the NDDC in accordance with the Act are collected.
They advised the NDDC to strengthen monitoring and evaluation of its projects to ensure programme effectiveness and efficiency.