Setting the Agenda for the New NDDC Board Setting the Agenda for the New NDDC Board
By Dianabasi Effiong   The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was established in 2000 to ensure speedy, fair and sustainable development of the Niger... Setting the Agenda for the New NDDC Board
Ndoma Egba

Ndoma Egba

By Dianabasi Effiong

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was established in 2000 to ensure speedy, fair and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into an economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful region.
The commission was also mandated to formulate policies and guidelines for the development of the region spanning Abia; Akwa Ibom; Bayelsa; Cross River; Delta; Edo; Im; Ondo; and Rivers states.
In specific term the 16-member NDDC board’s mandate is transformational and developmental.
These include an agenda for conception, planning and implementation of projects and programmes for sustainable development of the Niger Delta in tune with set rules and regulations.
Such core development mandate also transcends areas of transportation including roads, jetties and waterways, health as well as employment, industrialisation, agriculture and fisheries, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and telecommunications among others.
Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari through Mr Usani Usani, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, inaugurated the Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba-led new board of the NDDC with a mandate to collectively change the narrative of the region through probity, accountability, justice and commitment to service delivery.
He said: “Each time there is a change of guard in the commission, we have anxiety mixed with other expressions. At this moment, it is important for us to understand that the current disposition of this administration is to guarantee probity, accountability, justice and fervent commitment to service delivery.”
He charged the various institutions and government agencies responsible for the development of the Niger/Delta to drive their mandates to avoid conflict and duplications of duties.
The board members included Sen. Victor Ndoma Egba (Chairman), Mr Nsima Ekere (Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer), Mr Adobe Ajenakvwe of Delta (Executive Director Projects), Mr Mene Derek of Rivers (Executive Director Finance).
Other members included Mr Frank Samuel, (Akwa Ibom), Mr Brambaifa Nelson, (Bayelsa), Mr Sylvester Effefiom Nsa, (Cross River), Ogaga Ifowodo, (Delta), Mr Uwuilekhue Saturday (Edo) and Mr Harry Iboroma Dabibi (Rivers). 
Mr Bernard Banfa representing the North-Central zone on the board while Mr Yahaya Mohammed (North-East) Mr Mustapha Dansaki (North-West) Mr Mohmoud Isa-Dutse (Federal Ministry of Finance), Mr Abdul-Kareem Kasumi Bayero (Federal Ministry of Environment) and Mr Igo Weli, representing Oil Producers Trade are also on the board.
But what should we expect of the new board? Firstly.Ndoma-Egba, the chairman of the newly inaugurated board, who also lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for finding them worthy to serve on the board expressed their determination `”to change the story of the Niger Delta”.
He said: “We will go regional. We will be bound by Acts setting us up and other external rules setting up the commission.”
Ndoma Egba also assured in Port Harcourt when he formerly took over that things will be done differently by the Management and Board of the Commission, adding that the NDDC’s image as a contract-awarding institution will be re-branded to be impactful.
“Let me say it again that things will be done differently. This is because circumstances have changed, it is a new administration. The economy has become more challenging and when the times are challenging, you must be more innovative, and you must cut excesses.
“We must be leaner; our books must be clean, our projects must be audited, our personnel must be audited, our processes must be audited, so that we are clean and efficient.
“`We assure you that in doing this, we must do it together so that we have one challenge. We have one challenge and one challenge alone; to develop the Niger Delta Region.
“As I stepped in this morning and saw the swollen heads of young men and women at the entrance of the gate, I realized that the challenge is even more biting.
“`We must painfully engage those young men and women, we can do that by drawing up policies and programs that teach the people how to fish and not give people fish. The responsibility for doing that rest on us.
The new Board Chairman also said: “The benefits the MD and the Board have are that our appointment was announced since July and we were inaugurated four months later.
“So we have spent more time doing conversation about issues in the Niger Delta region. Both management and the Board will be on the same page in the drive to change the song, to change the story, to change the narrative of the NDDC.
“Out there, I must say it very frankly, the image of NDDC is that of a contract awarding silos, a contract awarding factory. I went to see a very senior brother the other day and he referred to me as the Chairman of the other stock exchange and I said to him, which stock exchange Sir?
He said people trade in NDDC contracts the same way they trade in shares. I don’t think that was a very edifying remark.
“We must rebrand, we must refocus. The times are different and we must change with time. We must be more innovative, we must be more efficient.’”
​Similarly, Ekere, the NDDC’s newly-appointed Managing Director, also assured that the Governing Board and Management of the commission would focus on intervention programmes to deliver real and measurable developmental outcomes for the region and its residents.
He stated this when he formerly the formerly took over from the former Acting Managing Director of the Commission, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari in Port Harcourt.
Ekere said the NDDC would also develop the non-oil sector among others within the region.
“As we deal with reduced revenues as a result of a decline in global oil prices and economic sabotage which has crippled Nigeria’s oil operations, the NDDC needs to look to innovative and more efficient ways of doing things.
“We need to find new partners to help execute our mandate for the Niger Delta, strengthen existing relationships to ensure all stakeholders are working towards common goals and promote peace necessary for the development of the region,” Ekere said.
He also assured: “We will have to do things differently to improve the transparency of our processes, leverage technology to increase accountability and efficiency, consult stakeholders frequently, engage proactively and be creative about the programs that we design to uplift the people and the region.”
Ekere, had also at his inauguration in Abuja promised that the new management would return the commission to its core mandate particularly that involving regional development and integration.
Expectations from other stakeholders within the region are that of hope and desire that the NDDC would be revamped positively.
Speaking in separate fora the former Governor of Cross River, Chief Clement Ebri, also commended Ndoma-Egba and his board’s appointment describing the former sEnate leader as the “oxygen to Cross River State and the Niger Delta”.
He said: “As far as we are concerned, Buhari has given us the best shot. Ndoma-Egba is endowed intellectually. He has the capacity, acumen, credibility and integrity and we are all proud of him. This appointment is like 10 appointments.
“Ndoma-Egba should go and tidy up that place and make it prosperous to the Niger Delta and the nation at large.”
The immediate past Senator of the Southern Senatorial District of Cross River State, Bassey Otu, also charged the NDDC board to work hard to turn around the fortunes of the Niger Delta.
The NDDC in Cross River also promised sweeping changes to ensure that “it is not going to be business as usual”.
The NDDC Commissioner from Cross River, Mr. Sylvester Nsa, gave the assurances when he assumed duties in Calabar.
He said that the new team would change the bad narratives of NDDC, where the Commission became a transactional agency, instead of being transformational one.
Nsa said: “the issue of abandoned projects is one that makes my heart to bleed. We are revisiting them, and as we speak, contractors are on sites of some projects, which were abandoned.”
“We shall strengthen procurement department and deliver on quality jobs. Operations of the new NDDC will be adequately monitored and supervised.”