Home » How NDDC can attain sustainable development in the Niger Delta area

How NDDC can attain sustainable development in the Niger Delta area


by The Economy

Following incessant social crisis, protests for better life and demand by the people of the region to have a dedicated institution of the Federal Government to answer to their peculiar needs, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was created by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration at the wake of the fourth republic in 2000. To emphasise the importance of the commission, it became one of the very first prayers of any people of Nigeria that was answered by the greenhorn civilian and democratic government for which notable Nigerian democrats and patrots have fought tooth and nail to achieve, with many great citizens paying the ultimate price.

The Commission was created with the mission “to offer a lasting solution to the socio-economic difficulties of the Niger Delta Region and to facilitate the rapid and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful.”

Unfortunately, as at today, after 23 years of its existence, the NDDC cannot boast of any significant milestone achieved. This is shameful.

With yet another appointment of a new board of the NDDC, now is the time of reckoning. Thankfully, the board now appears to have people with measurable levels of technocracy in the helms of affairs.

President Bola Tinubu on Tueaday appointed Mr Chiedu Ebie, a trained and practising Delta State-born lawyer before joining the former Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s cabinet as Commissioner of Basic and Secondary Education. He later became the Secretary to the State Government. The Nigerian president also appointed Samuel Ogboku, a political scientist and an astute administrator who is known to have a deep understanding of all issues of the Niger Delta region.

The Economy is convinced that there is no better time for the NDDC to start working than now. With captains who are now more technocratic than previous appointees, and with a government that appears more decisive on issues of development, the NDDC should now draw up a well planned strategy. There should be a strategic plan spanning about 20 to 30 years on what the commission need to achieve in the Niger Delta area. This long-term strategy should however be broken into short-term goals that can assessed in order to make the commission to be on its toes. There should be this plan which has to be sustained from one administration of NDDC to another. Each new administration coming after the other must key into the plan and continue the commission’s projects and programmes as left by the previous administration.

The government must monitor the NDDC administrations very closely. It is not enough for relevant national assembly committees to do oversight functions on the NDDC. This cannot be enough to monitor the NDDC. When you have a commission that receives budget and allocation from the Federal Government annually, as significant as the one that the NDDC is getting, there must be a way to determine and ensure that the funds are used for what they meant for.

In 2021, the then Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, disclosed that between 2000 and 2019, the NDDC received N6 trillion. The Managing Director of the Commission in the immediate past administration, Samuel Ogbukwu who appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC for budget presentation and defence said an aggregate expenditure of N485.7 billion is proposed for the commission in 2021, N928.2 billion in 2022 and N876 billion for 2023. These are huge sums, even though they can’t do much in their individual years when talking about developing the Niger Delta region in real term. However, over the years, a significant achievement should have been done if the funds were properly utilised. Unfortunately, what the commission has to show for all the funding allocations are 13,000 uncompleted and unverified projects in the region.

The NDDC is like a creation of a pot of soup for the boys. Reports coming from the NDDC over the years have been that of shame. They simply connote a “share the money” syndrome. The NDDC must move away from the this.

Also, the people of the area must find a way to monitor the activities of the NDDC. There’s nothing stopping them to create bodies dedicated to monitoring the funding and utilisation of these fundings by the commission in a manner that the NDDC can become more accountable to the people.

Like we noted earlier, the funding available to the NDDC from the Fed Government for each year is small when compared with what the commission should be doing. The mission of the NDDC is “to offer a lasting solution to the socio-economic difficulties of the Niger Delta Region and to facilitate the rapid and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful.”

To do this, sincerely, a huge, very huge amount of resources is needed. The Niger Delta area is an area that is very difficult to develop. To alleviate economic difficulties in the Niger Delta area and provide sustainable development to make the area economically prosperous, creation of road networks and provision of electricity first come to mind. If this must done in the Niger Delta, it means creation of bridges to connect, at least major communities in the area, and this can take enormous capital to the extent that what is given to the commission in a year cannot pay for creation of 200km of bridge. For instance, the distance between Warri and Okerenkoko (where the Nigerian Maritime University is located) in Delta State is over 200km. Right now, there’s is no road connecting the two towns. With speed boat, it takes around two hours to travel from Warri to Okerenkoko. Also, Okerenkoko also needs to be linked to major communities in Bayelsa, and in Ondo states for instance.

Think about it: Do we need a Maritime University? Yes. Should this Maritime University be in the Niger Delta area? Why not? Otherwise, how else do we intend to develop the area if not by building infrastructures there? But after building these infrastructure with billions of naira, we need to have roads to access them and for the people of the area to move around for business and social integration.

What we see now is the NDDC doing a few kilometres of roads in towns on the dry land. Nothing significant is done for communities in the creek. No bridges have been built, no efforts made to connect the communities in the creek with electricity. It looks to them as impossible to do these things, but if there is sincerity and commitment, these things can be achieved over some number of years. There’s nothing wrong with coming up with even a 50-year strategic plan to turn this area into a network of maritime business hub that the world could be proud of. This is an area inhabited by fishermen and this region can supply all the aquatic food needed by the country with excess to export.

However, this is not to justify the looting that goes on at NDDC. The Economy believes that with a long-term strategic plan, all fundings received by the commission can be channelled into the plan and then the plan is monitored by the government from time to time and from administration to adminstration. This way, there will be a focus and a goal for the NDDC to achieve within a specified period of time broken into short assessment points.

Again, When there is a strategic road map and plan to achieve certain goals, the states in the Niger Delta area can also be brought in to assist the NDDC. The states can partner NDDC in their various states to drive a development project home.

The NDDC must cease to be a food for the boys commission. We can only hope that the President Bola Tinubu administration can take the bull by the horn and bring in the needed change of modus operandi and stop the thievery at the NDDC.

Leave a Comment

The Nigerian Economy

The Economy is an online newspaper focusing on delivery of top-notch economic, financial and business intelligence reports for economic development. It is published by Samhapp Integrated Services Ltd., 1, Ojogiwa Street (1st floor) Off Idumagbo Avenue, Lagos Island, Lagos State, Nigeria,  West Africa



Copyright 2023 © The Economy . All Right Reserved. Developed by Jaflah!