The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Nsima Ekere, has urged major stakeholders to sensitize youths in the Niger Delta on the dangers of militancy and other social vices.
Ekere, who spoke when leaders of the Port Harcourt Club 1928 paid him a courtesy visit at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, stressed the need for peace and security to attract investments to the region.
He charged members of the Port Harcourt Club, whom he described as strong opinion leaders, to join in the effort to sanitize the Niger Delta, lamenting that most of the businesses that used to operate out of Port Harcourt have closed or re-located.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer remarked that investors need maximum security. He charged the leaders of Port Harcourt Club to advise the youths of the Niger Delta and make them understand that security would allow more businesses to operate from the region and thus create more jobs for them.
Ekere regretted that the world biggest refinery is being built in Lagos by a private investor. He said: “Millions of dollars will be used to construct pipelines to take the crude from the Niger Delta to Lagos. You can imagine the number of jobs that will be created if that facility were to be built in the Niger Delta. Imagine the multiplier effect in the economy.”
The NDDC boss declared that the current board of the Commission had been working very hard to change the story of the interventionist agency since it took over 15 months ago.
He said: “When we came on board we came with a very ambitious plan to restructure the NDDC. We articulated what we called the 4-R strategy. To restructure our balance sheet because it was over-bloated. A lot of projects were abandoned and there was over-trading. We identified the fact that for us to progress, we must of necessity restructure our balance sheet.
“We decided that we cannot continue to add to the liabilities. So, in our budget for 2017, we decided to dedicate 70 per cent of the budget to on-going projects to enable us concentrate on those projects and complete them. Only 30 per cent is dedicated to salaries, overheads and new projects. We also took measures restore the Commission to its core mandate.”
Ekere said that the NDDC was now concentrating on big ticket projects that would lead to economic integration of the Niger Delta, noting that it made sense to focus on doing those things that would change the economy of the region by providing sustainable and meaningful infrastructure.
He also said that the NDDC had decided to re-order its governance protocol, adding that the Commission must be run as an international best practice organization. Ekere assured: “We should respect laws and policies. We must follow due process in awarding contracts. So, we have decided to strengthen the governance system of NDDC. We re-dedicated ourselves to doing what is right and proper at all times.”
Ekere expressed delight that the changes at NDDC was already getting positive feed-backs from the international community, the business community and the Federal Government. According to him, “they recognize that NDDC is now doing things differently.” He commended the NDDC staff for being instrumental to the change that was taking place in the Commission.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the Port Harcourt Club 1928, Dr Diamond Tobin-West, commended the NDDC for rendering numerous forms of assistance to the club, especially in the area of sponsoring sporting competitions.
He said that the Port Harcourt Club had never had it so good in its relationship with NDDC, appealing for more assistance as it prepares to celebrate the 90thanniversary of the club this year.
Dr Tobin-West also appealed for the completion of the sports complex being built by NDDC for the club.