By Emmanuel Obisue
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to end the longstanding challenge of instituting a substantive Board for the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, as soon as possible.
President Buhari made this promise on Thursday while speaking in a keynote address at the opening ceremony of a two-day top management retreat of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and NDDC at the State House Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari who was represented by Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, restated the need to strengthen collaboration between the Niger Delta Ministry and the NDDC, as part of government’s efforts at building a new and better Niger Delta region.
He stated that this was imperative towards realizing government’s mission of improving the living conditions of Niger Deltans and the region in general.
“This retreat would serve as a veritable platform that will provide a unique opportunity to correct whatever irregularities had existed in the past and thereby attain an effective and prosperous working relationship that will be for the best interest of the Niger Delta region and Nation at large.
“The Federal Government has made huge commitment in the Niger Delta region, in furtherance with its desire to give the people a new lease of life, taking proactive steps to responding to the issues of the region, adopting and implementing more prudent policies and programmes that will bring about a better region,” Buhari stated.
While commending the efforts of the ministry at helping to reposition the NDDC to ensure it delivered on its mandate, the president stated that the implementation of the forensic audit report has commenced in phases and would soon usher in a new management and board for the NDDC.
He further commended the ministry for its efforts at harmonizing all developmental plans of all agencies and development partners operating in the Niger Delta region into a single integrated regional developmental plan.
Acknowledging the importance of the ongoing East-West road project to the nation’s economy, president Buhari reassured that the project would be completed before the end of his administration.
Earlier in his welcome address, Minister of the of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Okon Umana, declared that “the Ministry requires collaboration and coordination among the agencies, development partners and other stakeholders to achieve its mandate of developing and transforming the region”.
Umana stated that the ministry will prioritize projects prosecution and payments by focusing on impactful projects in the area of security, health, education, water, roads and other sectors that will address the basic needs of the people of the area. “We would set benchmarks and timelines for projects delivery. Our vision is to make a difference in the development of the region,” he added.
The minister stated that the mission of changing the narrative in the region would be realized when the NDDC and Niger Delta ministry work together “in one accord and focus on the core mandate of both institutions, in the spirit of one government”.