The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr Samuel Ogbuku has assured that the people of the region would experience something new and different in the coming weeks and months.
In a live interview on Arise News television News Night programme on Monday, Ogbuku said that the new leadership of the NDDC was going to make a difference in the lives of the people.
He said: “As an interventionist agency, we will be executing projects that connect states in the region and impact the lives of the people. We will focus on legacy projects.
“We will interface with the state governments and I can assure you that we will only carry out projects that will positively affect the lives of the people of the Niger Delta region”.
Reacting to what he described as “the perceived failure of the NDDC”, Ogbuku urged Niger Delta stakeholders to give the new board time to unfold its agenda. He said: “We have a team that means business. We are all going to integrate our visions to ensure that whatever we are doing is for the development of the Niger Delta region.
“Right now, we have the forensic audit report. We have requested for a copy which we will study and incorporate into our vision. It makes things easier for us because we already have something to work with. The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs has also charged us to do a number of things. We will put all these together and come up with a comprehensive vision for the people of the Niger Delta”.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that stakeholders from different ethnic groups in the Niger Delta region would have nothing to worry about, as their interests would be accommodated in the activities of the commission.
He stated: “We are going to work with our people. Every ethnic nationality in the Niger Delta will be part of our activities Nobody should be afraid of being left out. Whichever nationality you come from, we are all Niger Deltans, we are all united by underdevelopment and exploitation. The Ijaw man, the Itsekiri man, the Urhobo man, we have common environmental issues. So, we have to look out for everybody”.
Addressing the issue of budgeting, Ogbuku said that the board would review the process to ensure that funds were properly and adequately provided for projects and programmes. He observed: “One of the problems of the NDDC comes from budgeting. For instance, you cannot budget for a project of ten billion naira and provide only one billion for the budget cycle. Where that is the case, it will take ten years to complete the project. We want to correct that, such that we can start a project and finish it within one year”.
The NDDC boss also spoke on the determination of the commission to resist political pressures in the award of contracts. “I can assure you, we have the capacity to say no where and when necessary”, he said.
Ogbuku stressed that henceforth, the commission would only engage companies that have the capacity to deliver quality jobs. He remarked, however, that Niger Deltans with the capacity to meet the NDDC’s standards would not be neglected, adding: “We don’t want the Niger Delta people to be spectators in the development process.
“As much as we want to develop, we must insist on competence. We do not want to patronise portfolio contractors”.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that the funds being expected by the NDDC should be committed to specific projects and awarded to competent contractors.