Diete-Spiff leads Niger Delta monarchs behind Buhari as 25 years-old abandoned NDDC Tower springs to life

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The Governor of Yobe State, Buni Mai-Mala, cuts the tape on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari to commission the new NDDC headquarters building at the Marine base in Port Harcourt. First left is the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, while the NDDC Interim Administrator, Mr Efiong Akwa, is on the right.

By Ignatius Chukwu

President Muhammadu Buhari won new wave of love and solidarity in the oil region on Thursday, March 11, 2021, as he unveiled a 13-storey tower to house the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC), a tower that had been abandoned and neglected for 25 years by subsequent administrations, military or civilian.

The location of the complex alone seems to win more significance considering that it crowns one of the waterfronts and close to the slums of the real people of the oil region, Marine Base. The area is the first place gunshots rang out in 2005, Sunday, August 15, to announce the down of militancy and use of force to demand for resource control.

Marine Base holds special significance as the confluence of rivers that lead to Okrika, Bonny, Opobo and Nembe. The sprouting of the tower in the area seems to give the creek boys and the ordinary people the sense of ownership of the Commission and the oil resource.

Conveying the new feeling in his goodwill message, the Amayanabo of Twon-Brass, the King, Alfred Diete-Spiff, said he was pleased to be part of commissioning of what he described as a magnificent complex. “This is the right step in the right direction. We the chiefs and elders of the Niger Delta stand behind the President and the leadership of the NDDC,” he said.

The endorsement by the man regarded as the modern father of the Niger Delta who was a military administrator of Old Rivers State at creation in 1967 seems to carry huge significance not only because he is a king but because he championed the development of the oil region and the emancipation of the people of the region. His voice seems to count much in the region and in Nigeria as a whole.

Spiff spoke after President Buhari had revealed critical steps he said he has so far taken to reposition the oil region through the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and counted the completion and flag-off of the 13-storey N16Bn tower in Port Harcourt as evidence of some reform steps.

The president made the revelation today, March 11, 2021, while commissioning the permanent headquarters of the Commission which began over 25, years back.

He particularly said the inauguration of the new headquarters complex made up of two building totaling 17 floors as marking an important milestone in his administration’s effort to reposition the Commission for the overall development of the Niger Delta region.

Speaking at the virtual commissioning of the new headquarters complex at the Marine Base, Port Harcourt, President Buhari, observed that the new headquarters building was initiated by the defunct Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission, OMPADEC, in 1996.

Buhari said: “In 2015, as part of my administration’s objectives, we started a holistic reform of the NDDC for greater service delivery for the people of the region. To achieve this goal, I reassigned the supervision of the NDDC to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs for administrative efficiency.

“Second, was the appointment of Forensic Auditors to review the operations of the NDDC from inception to 2019 to ensure that appropriations made to the NDDC are commensurate with what is on ground.”

The President commended the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, for providing the required leadership that saw to the completion of the office complex, noting that money spent on rent would now be saved and deployed to other areas of needs to the region.

Buhari said: “I commend the management and staff of the NDDC for staying on course and keying into the development agenda of my administration. I am particularly pleased to note the cordial relationship between the NDDC and the National Assembly and hope that this relationship will be strengthened for the benefits of the people of the Niger Delta region.”

Speaking earlier, Akpabio said that he was the first minister to visit the new headquarters when it was under construction. He noted that for over 15 years the old headquarters on Aba Road was not connected to the national grid. He thanked the President for making it possible for this anomaly to be halted.

Akpabio declared: “The President deserves a big reward for showing love to the people of the Niger Delta. I also thank the Interim Administrator and the former Managing Directors of the NDDC for their efforts to see to the completion of the new headquarters.”

In his welcome address, the NDDC Interim Administrator, Efiong Akwa, commended President Buhari, the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs and members of the defunct Interim Management Committee for a job well done.

The NDDC CEO thanked the President for reassigning of NDDC to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, stating that the office complex stood as a monument to what Niger Delta people stood for, as “a people who are strong and resolute.”

“It is noteworthy to observe that President Buhari, in a demonstration of the remarkable political will, initiated three major policies that impacted positively on the speedy completion of this project.” He mentioned them as reassigning of the Commission under the Ministry and the forensic audit. “With the forensic audit exercise, it can no longer be business as usual in the Commission.

Third was the policy direction for the completion of all abandoned projects which have positive impact on the people. The completion of this edifice is, therefore, a direct consequence of Mr President’s focused policy direction.”

He commended the governor of Rivers State and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs who he said turned Mr. President’s directive into completion of the project.

Speaking on behalf of the governors of the nine Niger Delta states, the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinnma, expressed gratitude to President Buhari for the realisation of the new headquarters.

He said that credit must be given to President Buhari for making the project a reality, stating: “With the completion of the new headquarters, the NDDC will stop the money being wasted on rents and channel it to more productive ventures.

The governor commended President Buhari for setting up a forensic audit and appointing an Interim Administrator to manage the NDDC until the end of the forensic audit.

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