The Abia State Government has pledged to support the re-activation of the Advisory Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, made up of governors of the NDDC mandate states and two other members appointed by Mr. President.
The state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, affirmed his support when members of the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC led by its Chairman, Hon Nicholas Mutu, and NDDC directors, including the Executive Director Projects, Engr. Samuel Adjogbe, paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House Umuahia.
Dr. Ikpeazu, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu, called for better synergy between the state government and the NDDC. He said: “We think that the NDDC should always collaborate with states in the region on projects to avoid unnecessary duplications.
“We are aware that NDDC used to involve communities before embarking on projects in their areas. Lately, however, this has not been the case as some projects of the Commission are now being executed without inputs from the benefiting communities. It will be necessary for the NDDC to carry the states along in its projects to avoid cases of duplication.”
The Governor’s deputy stressed the importance of monitoring and supervision in getting contractors to deliver projects to specification and acceptable standards. He commended the House Committee for visiting the state to oversight NDDC projects, which he admitted had been very helpful in addressing some of the development challenges in the state.
The Chairman of the House Committee, Hon Mutu, said that the Standing Committee of the House of Representatives had the responsibility to continuously oversight the activities of the NDDC, including inspection of projects.
Mutu gave kudos to the Abia State Government for consistently promoting “made in Aba” goods to boost the local economy and drive development in the state. He declared: “The saying that if you get Aba right, then you get Abia right cannot be more apt. We are, therefore, proud to associate with you and seek avenues of continuous partnership between the NDDC and Abia State for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta.”
Mutu called attention to the fact that “the NDDC is an interventionist agency set up to assist in the provision of both human and infrastructural capital with a view to accelerating development of the Niger Delta region in partnership with stakeholders.”
He noted that the intention of the Act setting up the NDDC was for the key development actors in the region, especially the state governments, to play a strategic role and indeed take leadership in the harmonization of the development strides in the region.
The Committee Chairman stated: “The Act provided and constituted the nine governors of the region into the NDDC Advisory Committee, thereby creating a window for the joint inputs of the governors and most importantly a platform for regional integration of plans, projects, actions and voices.”
Mutu expressed optimism that the NDDC Advisory Committee would achieve a lot. He highlighted two possible quick gains: “Firstly, to jointly demand, using their collective voice, for the payment by the Federal Government of all outstanding debts owed the NDDC in order to fast-track development in the Niger Delta.
“The second item is to ensure, using the window of the impending review of the Niger Delta Master Plan to reflect the development vision of the various states into the Niger Delta Regional Master Plan and take ownership of the plan using it as an instrument for integrated socio-economic development and regional economic union of the Niger Delta which I believe the governments and people of the region have been attempting through other avenues.”
Mutu assured that the House of Representatives would continue to provide legislative support that would engender physical growth and development of the Niger Delta region. “Should the NDDC Advisory Committee require legislative instruments to enhance the effectiveness of the NDDC, please be assured of our willingness to provide every necessary support in this regard,” he said.
The House Committee inspected several projects in Abia State, including the 46-kilometre Obohia-Ohanku-Aba Road in Ukwa East Local Government Area. After inspecting the project, Mutu observed that despite the challenges that had delayed its completion, the indigenous contractor had done a relatively good job. He urged the NDDC to pay outstanding Interim Payment Certificates, IPCs, on the project to facilitate its completion.
The Committee also inspected the 7.5-kilometre Asa Township Road in Ukwa West Local Government Area.