By Daniel Abia
Governors of the South-South Geo-political zone have been urged to revive the BRACED (Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta) Commission for the purpose of economic integration and regional security.
The Commission was formed in 2010 after a week-long first south-south economic summit held at Tinapa in Calabar, Cross River state capital which was attended by all the governors of the six states of the region in 2009.
Speaking on the need to revive the regional economic bloc, Joseph Ambakaderimo, Convener South South Reawakening Group and Chairman Board of Trustees Community Development Committees of Niger Delta Oil and Gas Producing Areas said the importance of the Commission cannot be overemphasized in view of the present economic reality in Nigeria.
Ambakederimo said the essence of the Commission was to harness the socio-economic potentials of the region and also initiate policies and programs to encourage south-south economic cooperation and regional integration.
“The outline objectives as much as it sounds laudable not much has been seen to be achieved since after the elaborate launch about twenty four years ago. The BRACED Commission as it is today is in comatose. Governors in the region have never found love amongst themselves even when all of the six Governors were from the same political party, wherein they would have been strong fraternity amongst them.
“The reason for the Commission was beyond politics that even if different political parties emerged in the region as we have today, it won’t affect the objectives behind the creation of the body. It is a body that transcends politics. One wonders why the BRACED commission is allowed to die. Perhaps the style of governance in the states in the region have largely rubbed off on the management of the commission which we believe is not far from this fact”.
He said that the repositioning of the BRACED COMMISSION would go a long way to provide a pathway for redefining the soul of the region, adding that the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, should be brought in for a more coordinated approach that will set the region apart from the rest of the other regions in terms of best infrastructure development.
To strengthen the regional economic tie, Ambakederimo called for the establishment of the “Niger Delta Future Fund” with the six governors making a statutory payment of N5million every month deducted from Federal Account Allocation Committee, FAAC, to be domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“This fund could be used as a collateral to secure funding from Multilateral financial institutions for executing Mega projects across the region such as major intercity railway crisscrossing all major cities, light intra-city rails, Major intercity roads, Niger Delta digital Industrialization Masterplan , educational institutions, New mega market to compete with existing ones in other zones, Industrial Zones, tackle insecurity with technology and others”.
The CDC chairman also wants the BRACED commission to create a department purely to run as a business that will undertake and identify areas of potential investments.
He disclosed that in the coming months, the CDC of Oil and Gas Producing Areas of the Niger Delta shall kick-start the process of relaunching of the New BRACED COMMISSION to be better positioned for effective service delivery. “Talks are ongoing with the team at the commission and at the appropriate time, we shall unveil the road map”, he said.