Chairman, Governing Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Lauretta Onochie, has declared that the Commission under her watch will no longer be for just a few people but for the entire Niger Delta.
Onochie, who made the declaration on Friday during a courtesy visit to Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel at the Government House in Uyo, also said that the new Board of the Commission was determined to do things differently.
“We want to do things differently. NDDC will no longer be for just a few people. We want to serve the entire Niger Delta. We are here to ask that you support us as we do the right things,” she told the governor, who was represented by his deputy, Moses Ekpo.
Onochie, who is in the Akwa Ibom state capital for a three-day NDDC Board and Management Retreat, assured the governor that the Commission would not be partisan but would strive to serve the Niger Delta.
“One thing we ask from you is your support. We appeal to all and sundry to desist from pressuring us o do things in the same old way that has not helped the Niger Delta. We are determined to do things differently. But the elite must desist from pressuring us to do wrong things. We plead that you give us breathing space to do things differently,” she said.
Responding, governor Emmanuel said it was “so soothing” to hear the new NDDC Board Chairman give assurance “that you will work with us, irrespective of party affiliation, for the benefit of our people.”
For that, he said, “we will collaborate, we will work with you to ensure that you succeed in this gigantic assignment.”
Make a Difference in Niger Delta, Minister charges Board
Meanwhile, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Obong Umana Okon Umana, has charged that the members of the Governing Board of the NDDC, to establish a template for effective take off in the task to make a positive impact on the lives of the people of the Niger Delta region.
Giving the charge at the NDDC Board and Management Retreat, the Minister reminded the board members that the people of the Niger Delta region and Nigerians were looking up to them to make a difference.
Umana also urged the Governing Board to ensure that the Management Retreat was used to discuss and address issues around the NDDC Act, the Public Procurement Act and other key issues bordering on accountability and transparency.
Before he formally declared the Retreat open, the Minister remarked that it was meant to equip the Board and Management with relevant information to play their various roles to ensure that the NDDC lives up to its mandate of fast-tracking the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.
The Minister declared: “I trust that this new board, made up of experienced professionals, will not fail, especially with the confidence reposed in them.”
He underscored the importance of some of the topics such as: “Essentials of the Public Procurement Act; “Overview of the National Strategy on Public Service Reforms and Critical Issues in Public Service Reforms and “Guidelines to Accounting Procedures and Imperatives in Ministries, Departments and Agencies.”
Earlier in his opening remarks, the NDDC Managing Director, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku assured that the Governing Board was set to take the Commission to greater heights, stating: “We will soon roll out plans for developing the Niger Delta region. We will explore new areas of partnerships.”
The NDDC boss observed that the Commission recently inaugurated a committee on Public, Private Partnership, PPP, charged with exploring sustainable relationships which will impact positively on the people of the region.
According to him, “The PPP Committee is expected to review all the Commission’s existing partnerships as well as explore new partnerships that will result in enduring regional projects.”
Ogbuku said that the Committee will “identify, pursue and secure alternative sources of funding for the Commission’s projects and programmes,” as well as “draw up and adopt projects and programmes funding templates.”
Speaking on the setting for the retreat, the NDDC Managing Director said: “Uyo was chosen because we perceive Akwa Ibom State as a window of development in the Niger Delta region.”