* As NDDC CEO says oil companies may have to execute projects directly with their contributions
By Ignatius Chukwu
A major development has occurred at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) where the Federal Government has given a rare endorsement to the all-important budgeting processes in the Commission.
Also, the troubled oil companies contributions to the Commission may have been changed to project execution by the IOCs instead of going for cash contributions, something that once cost N1Bn per month paid to middlemen.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Development, Dr. Shuaib Belgore, has commended the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, for developing a budgetary process that involves stakeholders in its efforts to develop the Niger Delta region.
Presenting a keynote address at the NDDC Partners for Sustainable Development (PSD) Forum – NDDC 2024 Budget of Reconstruction Conference in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State, Belgore noted that the Commission is evolving and adopting a budgetary process that is in tandem with the provisions of extant laws.
He said that NDDC budgets over the years had been faced with challenges, which included belated submission, delayed approvals leading to poor implementation, adding that the outcome of the conference will help eliminate prevalent challenges.
The Permanent Secretary, who was represented by the Director Planning, Research and Statistics in the Ministry, Mr. Alfred Abah, said that NDDC did well to assemble critical stakeholders to prepare the 2024 budget of the Commission, focused on a common quest for the development of the Niger Delta Region,
According to a statement issued by the new Director of Corporate Affairs, Dr Pius Ughakpoteni, the forum has the theme: “Partners for Sustainable Development Forum-NDDC 2024 Budget Conference”.
The conference is meant to present a veritable atmosphere towards achieving effective budgeting system for the NDDC in line with the ‘’Renewed Hope’’ project of the Federal Government.
He commended the current management of the NDDC for reviving the PSD Forum, “which has not happened in a long while, and it is the first, since the ministry started supervising the Commission.
Belgore said that the way forward was to embrace robust and innovative pathways anchored on transparency and Stakeholder participation towards right-budgeting, thus maximizing the available resources to address the most critical needs of the people.
He observed: “As the supervising Ministry, charged with the responsibility of coordinating the overall developmental efforts and activities in the Niger Delta Region, we promise to always provide and avail the Commission all the necessary assistance needed to ensure passage of your annual budgets and consistent flow of statutory contributions from the Federal Government.”
Speaking earlier, the NDDC Managing Director, Dr Samuel Ogbuku, stated that the Commission was building partnerships that would ultimately yield better results for the people of the Niger Delta region.
One result of the partnership, he said, is a partnership with the Rivers State Government on the Okrika-Borokiri Bridge, stating: “We are focused on legacy projects such as the Okrika-Borokiri bridge. We have mobilized the project contractor back to site. We are changing the specifications of the bridge to a dual carriageway.”
He added: “We are also looking at partnerships with the IOCs, the NLNG to execute projects. We are looking at a situation where the IOCs will use their contributions to the NDDC to fund projects in the region. We don’t just want to collect the contributions. We are looking at a situation where we evaluate the specific IOC’s contribution and direct them to use for specific projects that we identified.”
Dr. Ogbuku pointed out that the Commission is also working on completing the Bonny Creek Road. So, we are looking at other levels of partnerships. He stated: “This conference will help us and our partners to produce a budget that would capture the present reality, as well as legacy projects.”
Also speaking, NDDC Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Major General Charles Airhiavbere, (rtd.), stated that the NDDC budget is being restructured to enable the Commission to achieve its strategic objectives. “It is expected that the duplication of the NDDC projects will be completely eradicated,” he said.
Speaking in a similar vein, the Executive Director, Projects, Mr. Charles Ogunmola, said that the NDDC management had made it a priority to do things differently, noting that the conference was a first step in achieving a renaissance for the Niger Delta region.
In her presentation, Dr Uduakobong Enang, Economic Adviser to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State called on the stakeholders to focus on meeting the aspirations of the people of the Niger Delta region through their deliberations and deliberate to achieve the collective will of the Niger Delta region.
Deputy National Chairman of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON, Oba Obafemi Ogbaro, called for closer ties between the NDDC and traditional rulers in the region.