Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has promised to collaborate with the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, in the execution of developmental projects in the Niger Delta region.
The governor made the pledge at the Government House, Umuahia, when members of the NDDC governing board paid him a courtesy visit.
The NDDC team, led by the Chairman of the Board, Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, included the Managing Director, Sir (Barr) Bassey Dan-Abia; the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Dr. Henry Ogiri; the Executive Director, Projects, Engr. Tuoyo Omatsuli and other board members.
The governor, who described the NDDC as a catalyst for the development of the region, said its role as an interventionist agency has made it a strong unifying institution as far as development of the Niger Delta was concerned. “We see the NDDC as a very important partner,” he said.
Calling for better synergy between the NDDC and other key stakeholders in the planning and execution of projects, Governor Ikpeazu stated that his administration welcomed the plans of the commission to enlist partners for the rebuilding of the very strategic Aba-Ikot Ekpene-Calabar road.
He said that Abia State was in dire need of such a rescue project as that road, the major link between it and the neighbouring states had virtually collapsed.
Governor Ikpeazu said he was mindful of the funding challenges facing the NDDC but expressed hope that the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would remove the bottlenecks hindering proper funding of the commission.
“Every kobo belonging to the NDDC that is withheld is a punishment for the people of the Niger Delta and not the Commission,” he said.
Earlier in his address, the NDDC board chairman, Senator Ewa-Henshaw, told the governor that the commission was a vehicle for fast-tracking development of Nigeria’s oil-rich region.
He stated that in line with the mandate given to the board by the Federal Government to complete all on-going projects, several of the projects had been commissioned since the current board assumed office.
“We have so far completed and commissioned six university hostel projects, awarded 1,021 overseas scholarships for Master degrees and PhD programmes in engineering and sciences.
“Many other inherited projects, including the NDDC permanent headquarters building, are also in the process of being completed,” the chairman said.
Senator Ewa-Henshaw said that the current NDDC Board inherited 7,000 projects and a liability in excess of one trillion naira, including interim payment certificates, IPC’s, that were not paid. He noted that funding remained a major challenge for the Commission as N800billion due to to the agency was still being withheld by the Federal Government.
The chairman stated that the act establishing the Commission had not been complied with by previous administrations, noting that this had made it difficult for the NDDC to live up to the expectations of the people. He regretted that the NDDC had since inception been getting only 10 per cent, instead of the 15 per cent, provided for in the NDDC Act.