nsima-ekereThe Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr Nsima Ekere, has promised that the 12-floor permanent headquarters of the Commission in Port Harcourt will be ready for inauguration by President Muhammadu Buhari before the end of next year.

Mr Ekere made the pledge  during an inspection of the headquarters complex accompanied by the Executive Director Projects, Engr. Samuel Adiogbe, the Executive Director Finance and Administration, Mr Mene Derek and other directors of the Commission.

He said that the Commission would set up a taskforce to be headed by the Executive Director Projects to ensure that the project was completed before the target date, adding that he would like to have the privilege of inviting Mr President to inaugurate the new building.

The MD said that the Commission was already carrying out “a couple of audits because we need to agree on the way forward in terms of prioritizing the projects.” He said that it was important to determine the projects that the Commission could afford to complete, depending on the ones that have the highest impact on communities.

Mr Ekere declared: “I don’t believe that there is any sense in starting a thousand projects and completing only one. So we will check the number of new projects and then concentrate on completing on-going ones. We want to complete our projects.”

The NDDC boss said that henceforth all projects being executed by the Commission would be covered by bank guarantees. “Our legal department will prepare agreement performance guarantees and further payments for projects will be guided by such agreements,” he said.

Mr Ekere also made observations on the security features in the new headquarters. He said:

“We need to look at the security provisions in this buildings; knowing that insecurity is a major challenge in the Niger Delta. So for a massive building of this nature, we need to have sufficient security architecture to take care of the staff, even the visitors coming in should also be sure that they are safe.”

In his own remarks, the NDDC Executive Director Finance and Administration, noted that the contractor did not manage the financial resources available to him well. He stated that more than 90 per cent of the funds had been released by the Commission.pmb

The NDDC Head of Project Monitoring Services, Engr. Felix Aomreore said that the headquarters complex, which was initiated by the defunct Oil Minerals Producing Area Development Commission, OMPADEC, was initially conceived to be 14 floors.

He said that from the assessment of his directorate, the project had achieved 60 per cent completion. He explained that the headquarters complex would include other ancillary facilities such as a medical centre, car park, restaurant, bank, among others.

The project coordinator, Architect Felix Darko, assured the NDDC directors that they were working according to schedule and set standards. He said that the contractors involved in the project were determined to complete the multi-storey building on time.

He said that all the service equipment for the main building were already on the site waiting for installation. Other electrical equipment such as lifts and escalators are also on ground.

Meanwhile The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Nsima Ekere, has stated the commitment of the Governing Board and Management to fashion a new path for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.

Mr. Ekere was speaking as the new Board, led by Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, took over the reins of the  agency at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt.

The NDDC boss reaffirmed the need for cooperation in the Niger Delta, stating: “We will work to promote cooperation, collaboration and synergy among stakeholders, such as state and local governments, oil and gas companies, donor agencies, civil society organisations, community-based organisations and other traditional institutions, in order to make regional development a shared vision and common aspiration.

“We would have to do things differently to improve the transparency of our processes, leverage technology to increase accountability and efficiency, consult stakeholders frequently, engage proactively and be creative about the programmes that we design, to uplift the people and the region.”

Mr. Ekere said the focus of the Commission would be on intervention programmes that would deliver real measurable developmental outcomes for the region and its citizens.

“Five priorities of NDDC,” he said, “will be to focus on regional development and integration; ecological management and health awareness; stakeholder engagement and work with development partners and NGOs; human capital development and fostering youth engagement as well as developing the non-oil sector to attract new industries.”

The NDDC Chief Executive Officer commended the deep interest shown by Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari in changing the Niger Delta narrative. “The recent engagements with leaders and stakeholders of the region, the inauguration of a new Board, the transfer of oversight responsibility over the Commission to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Lagos-Calabar rail link project. These are significant actions that are bound to impact the region positively,” Mr. Ekere said.

He noted that the new board was starting at a critical time for the region and the country, highlighting reduced revenues resulting from the combined effect of decline in global oil prices and the crippling economic sabotage of Nigeria’s oil production activities.

According to the Managing Director, “NDDC needs to look to innovative and more efficient ways of doing things. We need to find new partners to help execute our mandate for the Niger Delta; strengthen existing relationships to ensure that all stakeholders are working towards common goals and promote the peace that is necessary for the development of the region.”

Senator Ndoma-Egba assured that the Commission would design programmes and projects to engage the young men and women of the region to ensure that they were gainfully employed, stating: “We will teach them how to fish.”

He regretted that the NDDC is perceived in some quarters as a contract awarding factory. “We must rebrand. We mush refocus. We are determined to change the story in the NDDC,” he declared.

In her speech before handing over to Mr. Ekere, the former Acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, noted that the only constant thing in life was change. “The good thing about a relay race, is that all those running are set to achieve one goal,” she said.

She thanked President Buhari for giving her the privilege to serve the Niger Delta region and the country and also for appointing the new Board, describing it as a crack team of tried, tested and distinguished gentlemen.

Mrs. Semenitari revealed that when she started work at NDDC, the percentage of job completion from inception, hovered at less than 25 per cent. “By September 9,” she said, “that figure had gone up to 41per cent. As at today, we are in the 50 per cent range.”

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