As Christian Oboh opens new chapter in NDDC

| January 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

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NIGERIANS now seem to be getting to know the reasons former President Olusegun Obasanjo struggled hard, in the face of damning criticisms from the National Assembly and verbal attacks from less-informed members of the public, to establish the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in 2002. Nigerians were used to the drawling styles of the then OMPADEC and its long-winded approach to meeting the needs of the people of the oil-producing areas. To them, a new commission to replace the wobbling OMPADEC seemed like a ploy by the Obasanjo government to further exploit the Niger Delta people.

All the same, when the government eventually got the bill on the NDDC passed in the National Assembly, the mandate it gave to the pioneering management team was clear. It bade the NDDC to improve the social and environmental conditions in the South-South region, which it acknowledged had been horrible and dehumanising to the people of the area. For the commission, however, the areas of immediate focus were the development of social and physical infrastructure, technology, economic revival and prosperity, ecological/environmental remediation and stability of human development

For 13 years running now, the Niger Delta states of Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Abia, Imo, Bayelsa, Ondo, Edo, Delta and Cross Rivers have been experiencing different forms of development, notwithstanding the controversies that continue to trail the approach by successive management teams of the NDDC. Drawing the 13 per cent derivation due to them from the Federation Account steadily and consistently, the oil-rich areas of Niger Delta could not have been luckier.

The attention of the rest of Nigeria appears fixed on the NDDC and its operations. This was even more so when the current Managing Director/CEO, Dr Christian Azubike Oboh, mounted the saddle in 2012. Oboh, to those who know him well, is imbued with the right approach to fulfilling the mandate of the NDDC. His aides told Inside Niger Delta that he took the office with a desire to leave better footprints on the NDDC’s sands, having carefully mapped out his strategies for attaining success on any decisions he sanctioned.

All along, expectations in the Niger Delta have been high on the NDDC, given the incapacity of most of the state governments under the commission to fulfill the dream of their people. Oboh seems to be aware of this in the manner he drew his programmes meant to enable the NDDC to spread its development initiatives to all the crannies of the Niger Delta. Oboh’s NDDC now has a blueprint to attain the dreams of the managers and the board. Oboh says he lives by the inspiration of President Goodluck Jonathan, who according to him, has a passionate desire to fully accommodate the needs of the people of the Niger Delta in his transformation agenda.

The way to start advancing the cause of NDDC, according to its managing director, is to identify uncompleted projects and then mobilise resources to get them completed, while new projects listed in his agenda are equally to start in earnest. So far, the NDDC has launched projects in the nine oil-producing states on road network, provision of potable water, electrification, shore protection, canalisation, capacity building for the Niger Delta youths, construction of bridges in each of the states, agriculture and others.

At the moment, the Oboh-led NDDC has more than 53 major projects at hand. The statistics of the spread of projects reveal that four has been sited in Abia State, while Akwa Ibom has seven and Bayelsa five. In the same vein, Edo has three ongoing NDDC projects, while Ondo, Rivers and Imo have four projects respectively. State governors in the oil-producing areas have been attesting to the change of altitude at the instance of the NDDC in the delivery of projects, some of which had been commissioned.

Not too long ago, the NDDC succeeded in training a total of 91 Niger Delta youths in welding and drilling technology in Turkey, while each of them returned to Nigeria armed with well-deserved certificates as certified international welding specialists and drilling technicians. Forty of the Niger Delta youths were said to have been trained in comprehensive international welding inspectors’ course, while 51 benefited from the safety quality and maintenance training. The programme was a fall-out of the partnership arrangement between the NDDC and the Nigerian Institute of Welding.
On the issue of capacity building for the youths, the NDDC boss said, “We have programmes designed for the youths running into millions of naira, but we need to fine-tune them for better results. We are, therefore, focusing on areas that will give us maximum benefit and impact positively on our youths”.

During the last flood disaster that ravaged many parts of the region, the NDDC did not fold its arms. Reports indicated that it swung into action to distribute relief materials, including typhoid and malaria vaccines, to flood victims in some areas. The NDDC Governing Board, headed by Dr Tarilah Tebepah, had offered total support for the initiatives of the managers.

State governors, who appreciate the initiatives by the NDDC in their respective states, have been commending the commission. For instance, the governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, not long ago, commended the commission on its efforts in upping the ante in the task of developing the Niger Delta. He said what he had noticed so far in the NDDC’s activities was a manifestation that its present board was living up to its billing.

However, efforts by the NDDC to spread development to all Niger Delta areas may appear insufficient for now. It is on this note that the governor of River State, Rotimi Amaechi, appealed to the commission to further step up its programmes and initiatives. Amaechi simply harped on the need to improve on social necessities for the Niger Delta, including education, power, youth and women’s empowerment and others.

During a recent visit to Amaechi by the NDDC Board chairman, the governor put his thought rhetorically, stating: “The question being asked all over the country is that huge sums of money is budgeted yearly for the development of the Niger Delta through the Niger Delta Development Commission. What is on ground to show that those resources are properly expended?

“Let it be known and kept at the back of our minds that as we carry out our daily activities, we must ask ourselves the question: why are our youths restive? Why is our economy in the way it is? Why do we have crime in the volume we have now?”

Culled from :Here

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