Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Obong Umana Okon Umana, has commended the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, for adopting the Public Private Partnership model as a vehicle for driving the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.
Speaking during the one-day Public Private Partnerships, PPP, summit organized by the Commission at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, Umana said that it was in line with the emphasis of Federal Government to harness the expertise and energies of all stakeholders and partners in all efforts to develop the Niger Delta region.
The Minister said the summit was in tandem with his Action Plan to reset and reposition the NDDC, stating: “We also set in motion an era of accountability and transparency by publishing in national newspapers, a list of 2,506 completed projects executed by the Commission under the Buhari administration from 2015 to 2022.”
Umana noted that the Ministry and the NDDC alone would not be able to meet all the development needs and aspirations of the Niger Delta people. “For us to effectively address the development challenges of the region,” he said, “we need the support and partnership of the private sector to complement our efforts. The private sector is vital in providing capital, technology, innovation, expertise, and employment opportunities for the region.”
Declaring the summit open, the Minister said he was hopeful that it would serve as a platform for fruitful discussions and interactions that would lead to concrete actions and outcomes.
Speaking earlier, the NDDC Managing Director, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, stated that the Commission decided to adopt the PPP model to provide alternative sources of funding for key development projects and programmes.
He said: “As part of our efforts to renew and reposition the NDDC, the Governing Board stepped up the collaboration with various stakeholders. We have started engagement with the key stakeholders, such as the oil companies who contribute three per cent of their operational budget to the Commission; the state governments; traditional rulers; Civil Society Groups; youth organisations and Contractors.
“We are showing in our operations, through our example and conduct, how diligence, due process and transparency are key ingredients to building confidence and trust among all partners and stakeholders. We are committed to not just being transparent, but we want to be seen to be transparent.”
Ogbuku stated that the Commission’s “Rewind to Rebirth” initiative, which is the theme of the summit, “is a strategic vision designed to recalibrate our engagement with the Niger Delta and the Commission’s overall intervention implementation plan. Embedded in this initiative include exploring more avenues for funding, for better technical expertise, for higher yielding varieties of crops, as well as opportunities for collaboration and investment in the Niger Delta region.”
He added: “We have started commissioning completed projects. Recently, we commissioned three roads in Bayelsa State to mark the beginning of many other project inaugurations across the nine Niger Delta states.
“In the coming weeks, some of our major projects will be commissioned. Among this is the the 132/33kv sub-station constructed by the Commission in Okitipupa, which will provide electricity for over 2,000 communities spread across five local government areas of Ondo State.”
The NDDC boss noted that “another key project that is ready for inauguration is the Ogbia-Nembe Road, which was jointly funded by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, and the NDDC.”
In his keynote address, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Engr. Simbi Wabote, stressed that for parnerships to be successful, they must be based on proper analysis and studies.
In his own remarks, the NDDC Executive Director Projects, Mr. Charles Ogunmola, said that the vision of the Commission was to drive sustainable development, noting that over the past 22years it has struggled to live up to this mandate due to poor funding.