The Minister of State in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Omotayo Alasoadura, has given kudos to the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, for embarking on a journey of re-awakening and renewal.
Alasoadura gave the commendation during an interactive session at a three-day Strategic Capacity Building workshop/Retreat for directors of the NDDC at Ibom Icon Hotels and Golf Resort in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
He said that the three-day retreat was a manifestation of the resolve of the NDDC to turn things around for the long-suffering Niger Delta region, stating: “I am doubly delighted because this retreat is the second of two clear manifestations of an emerging new NDDC.”
He recalled that last month, the new headquarters complex of the NDDC in Port Harcourt was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari. He said: “Today, we are here to rub minds with a vast array of stakeholders on collaboration and re-strategising for a better Niger Delta region.
“These two events, coming back-to-back, hold enormous promise for the Niger Delta people and all who have stakes in the development of the region. These two events have the potential to boost the service delivery capabilities of the NDDC and they will go a long way in helping the Commission shed the undesirable toga and appellations that have been its unfortunate lot in the past.”
Alasoadura said that the retreat provided an opportunity for the ministry and the NDDC to create a new trajectory for the Commission and the Niger Delta region “in these increasingly challenging times of dwindling resources amidst heightening expectations of our people.”
He remarked: “I commend the NDDC for choosing the very relevant and timely subject of ‘Effective Budget Preparation, Implementation and Monitoring Strategies,’ as the focus of the discussions for internal and external stakeholders which preceded the retreat.”
The Minister said that it was heart-warming that the NDDC, as part of its strategic planning, was rubbing minds with traditional rulers, Civil Society Organisations and the leadership of the National Assembly to fashion out ways to deliver its mandate more effectively.
Alasoadura observed: “I am aware that many stakeholders of the NDDC have not been satisfied with its performance over the years. You have been accused of not carrying them along. Given this background, I am happy that you have chosen ‘Collaborating, Planning and Re-strategising for a Better Niger Delta Region’ as the theme for this retreat.”
Speaking earlier, the NDDC Interim Administrator, Mr. Efiong Akwa, said that the retreat was bound to bring changes in the processes of the Commission, insisting that there must be a paradigm shift.
He said: “The fallouts from the workshop will help us to build a strong institution that will better serve the people of the Niger Delta region.”
The NDDC boss used the opportunity of the retreat to clarify the position of the Commission on the Post Graduate Foreign Scholarship Programme, which he said had been reviewed in the light of the prevailing health challenges that came with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Akwa stated that henceforth, the NDDC would sponsor post graduate studies only in Nigerian universities, since it had become unrealistic to continue to send students abroad for studies in a world battling with the scourge of Corona Virus disease.
In his own remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr Babayo Ardo, said that the overall objective of the retreat should be to reposition the NDDC for effective service delivery as an interventionist agency created to accelerate the development of the Niger Delta region.
He noted that the retreat was germane, especially as it came at a time when both the ministry and the NDDC were trying to see how they could come together and reposition the Commission.
He affirmed that the forensic audit of the Commission, which had entered another phase of physical inspection, point to the fact that things would not remain the same again in NDDC.
Ardo observed that for some of the deficiencies identified in the NDDC to be corrected, there was need for a review of some sections of the Act establishing the Commission.