January 8, 2014

Challenges before NDDC new board

Jimitota Onoyume

Thirteen years after it came into being as an interventionist agency to help tackle challenges of under development in the Niger Delta region, the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC is yet to meet this set goal.

Managing Director of the new board, Mr  Bassey Dan- Abia, acknowledged the task before his board when he said that staff  and members of the management team of the Commission should be honest enough to admit that the commission had not met the expectation of the region.

“When we convince ourselves that we have not done well, then we can take off from this point”, he said.

For many, the Commission is a failure. And the major challenge before the new board is how to turn things around. The new board must work to win back confidence of people of the Niger Delta on the commission.

In 2012 alone, the federal government approved seventy five mega projects for execution by the commission in the region. Shockingly in 2013 not up to 70 percent of the contractors that secured the jobs mobilised to site.

Most of the communities where the jobs were to be executed apparently are not aware of such projects.

Before the new board came on stream, the former acting Managing Director, Dr Chris Atako, had a meeting with contractors where she lamented their poor attitude to job execution.

She said some of the contractors were part of the problem of the commission. According to Dr Atako, some of the contractors instead of being at their job sites chose to hang around the commission doing nothing.

She even threatened during the meeting that the Commission would not hesitate to engage security agencies to assist get contractors on their toes. This shows how bad the situation is.

Sweetcrude gathered that work took off on only five out of the seventy five mega projects the federal government approved in 2012 for the region.  Contractors were largely blamed for the failure of contractors to go to site.

The new board has to take a hard stand on the negative attitude of contractors if it wants to make significant impact in the region.

The board should also avoid acts that could breed personality clash among its members. It would be recalled that a board with Mr Chibuzor Ugwoha was sacked because of the foregoing problem.

Some of the executive members left their lines of duty to be neck deep into personality rivalry, a development that disrupted the smooth operations of the Commission.

The federal government had no other choice but to dissolve the board when it became clear that executive members were not ready to work together.

The board that came after the dissolution, could only be rated a pass mark for the harmony that existed among the executive members. They had team spirit, but did not make any appreciable impact.

Most of its activities were dogged in controversies. There were times contractors accused some executive members of the board of using fronts to harass them for kick backs. For some that board was another minus for the region.

Expectations are already high. And the new board seem to be aware of this. This perhaps was why the MD, Mr Abia said his board was fully conscious of the expectations of the region and the nation when he addressed staff and management team of the commission in Port Harcourt