A new direction for the NDDC

By: Fortune Alfred

The main foci of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) going forward should be on impactful interstate projects i.e projects that improve the lives of Niger Delta peoples across different state boundaries.

For instance, a road connecting the Nembe-Brass area to the Trans-Kalabari Road, one connecting Bomadi to a road in Sagbama that links Toru Orua to Amassoma or a road around Okogbe that links those Areas to Bayelsa East via Kolo in Ogbia LGA.

So anyone visiting Bayelsa East does not have any business entering Yenagoa first, thereby decongesting the Capital city of Bayelsa State while expanding avenues for trade linkages between the peoples of Bayelsa and Rivers State.

The foregoing is without prejudice to the fact that the new Board has many inherited projects it has to pay attention to. Even at that, it needs to assess such projects with a businesslike Cost-Benefit Analysis based clear-eyed mindset that would rank the ones it would handle based on their overall impact on the people and by extrapolation, the region.

For the sake of clarity, I have used the above-mentioned proposed road projects in Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States just as illustrative tools to explain the sort of projects I am thinking about.

Thus, nothing in the foregoing should be interpreted to imply that I am advocating for the concentration of projects in certain areas of the region. Those areas come to me easily due to the limitations of my knowledge of the vast geography of the region. That said, let me go on by speaking about the new NDDC boss.

To begin with, already, I love the body language and utterances of the new Managing Director of the Commission, Dr Samuel Ogbuku such as his proactive visits to their State offices and his statement about the need to work with State offices in the conceptualisation, design and execution of NDDC projects in the various States.

Just last week, after his maiden visit to the Commission’s state office in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Dr Ogbuku was widely quoted in the media to have said:

“The state offices are the foundation of the commission because the projects are not in the state headquarters”

“The projects are in various states and the state offices manage those projects. So, if there’s a disconnect between the head office and the state offices, then definitely, we are going to have a lot of problems.

“We are definitely going to work with the state offices to curb all these issues of fake projects, uncompleted projects, duplication of projects so that in our budgeting process, we will carry every stakeholder along so that state directors should also advise us on projects that we ought to do in those states.”

What could be gleaned from a careful reading of the above is Dr Ogbuku’s willingness to adopt a decentralised model of Development Administration akin to that which one of his illustrious kinsmen, the late sage Dr Melford Okilo, of cherished memory, deployed while governing the Old Rivers State that consisted of the present day Bayelsa, to leave indelible footprints on the sand of time that are still unparalleled to date.

Nonetheless, I must add that in addition to the aforementioned, the State Governments and their relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies should be carried along in this process.

In other words, the Commission needs to work more closely with the State governments to deliver projects. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Commission and State Governments collaborating to conceptualise, design and execute projects, just as the Commission did with other partners on the Nembe Road.

So rather than go it alone to execute a small and less impactful project, it could approach the states for their buy-in to scale up such projects.

As my Senior in the Department of Political/Administrative Studies at the unique University of Port Harcourt and one who specialised in Development Studies, I believe, I – an International Relations student – do not have to advise the Doctor about the need for proper need assessment in future projects even as he concentrates on completing the ones he inherited such as the Polaku-Sabagreia and Akenfa Bridges, the Okoroba road, to name only a few, to reduce the number of uncompleted and abandoned projects in the Commission’s books.
Read also: Bayelsa monarch, Sambo felicitates Ogbuku on inauguration as MD of NDDC
I also need not tell him anything about the need for all future NDDC Projects to be of the best quality to compete with any anywhere in the world as we are a people who could not afford the luxury of repeatedly spending scarce resources to reconstruct and rehabilitate the same projects at very short intervals due to poor quality project delivery while time and everyone around the world move on.

The new NDDC must insist on quality project design and execution as well as timely completion of projects to get real value for every Kobo it spends and to reduce the cost of construction caused by the inflation-pushed contract review – cost variations – due to the time value of money.

Another thing that the Dr Ogbuku-led NDDC must strengthen and take very seriously if it must succeed in its task of improving the quality of life of the Niger Delta people is its Monitoring and Evaluation(M&E) Directorate if it has one.

That is one sure way to curb the menace of fake projects, uncompleted projects, and duplication of projects he bemoaned in his above-quoted address at Yenagoa. The pivotal role a good M&E system would play in charting the new direction for the Commission cannot be belaboured.

I did not plan to write an article. My initial plan, when I decided to write was to tweet my topic sentence in the first paragraph.

Nonetheless, as I wrote, more thoughts came to me, hence the current length of this composition. So in order not to take much more of your time with another of my pieces that might be characteristically long to read, I have elected to stop here with just a few felicitations to conclude.

In conclusion, let me use this medium to join well-wishers to congratulate the MD, the Bayelsa State Representative, Denyanbofa Dimaro, the entire Board and everyone else that has been appointed to serve in various capacities with the new Board on your elevation.

Please make great use of this opportunity to better the land. That way, you make yourselves and us proud.

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