By Chris Ochayi, ABUJA
Minister, of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, has reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to facilitate a viable and formidable pathway to facilitate sustainable development of the region.
Akpabio stated this at the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Strategic Retreat with the theme: “collaborating, Planning and Re-strategizing for a Better Niger Delta region”, held in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
He said that the essence of the NDDC retreat is to explore effective ways that will foster the development of the communities where oil and gas are extracted, managed and recalibrated, affecting active NDDC budgeting systems and process at all levels.
According to him, For the Commission to effectively and efficiently deliver on its mandate as captured in Section 7 of the NDDC Acts (as amended), we must look for ways at achieving an all-inclusive budget in order to address overbearing external influences”.
He however lamented that “20 years after the establishment of NDDC, we are still here looking for a better strategy to ushering the kind of development that sustains our people’s livelihoods and fulfil our shared dream of a better Niger Delta region instead of celebrating successes achieved in the region”.
He stressed that presently, there is a stronger commitment to restore collaboration among stakeholders, in fostering a common roadmap, establishing effective and efficient protocols for sustainable development in the region.
The Minister stated that “we must be bold on many fronts to tackle factors which have negated and continued to negate the important work of implementing development strategies and policies”.
He identified some factors to be tackled in the Commission and the region which include; Corruption, Issues of governance (misuse of public resources, poor service delivery and poor enforcement of the law), Non-existent monitoring and evaluation of projects and programmes, Organisational behaviour and implementation issues and lack of transparency and accountability in performance information and outcomes.
He noted the consequences have been; lingering restiveness, the breakdown of trust, abuse and misuse of power between officials and communities embezzlement and attendant violence amongst others, he added that every concerned party has been fingered as contributory to the challenges in establishing good governance.
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The Minister, therefore, enjoined that there must be a conscious strategy and attitudinal change from all in order to connect to the vision and mandate of the Commission that will bring about sustainable development of the region.
Chairman Senate Committee on the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, emphasized the need for mutual understanding between the National Assembly and stakeholders to avoid conflict “as in situations of conflict and misunderstanding, all parties will lose out”.
He solicited cooperation in lawmaking, budgeting and appointments in order to move the region forward.
Chairman, House Committee on NDDC, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji Ojo stated that there is a need for cooperation and collaboration between the Executive and the Legislative arm of the Government in order to get things right in the Niger Delta region. He pledged his unflinching support to the Ministry and Management of NDDC to ensure that most of the issues currently experienced in the Commission and Niger Delta region are addressed.
In his welcome address, the Interim Sole Administrator, NDDC, Mr Effiong Akwa, stated that the NDDC is currently in consultations with stakeholders to distil commonalities for speedy development of the Niger Delta region.
According to him, “NDDC is born again, contrary to its unsavoury past ways, the core of our new personae is in continual consultations and collaboration with stakeholders to co-create commonalities for effective development of the Niger Delta region”.
He urged all stakeholders of NDDC and Niger Delta to synergize so as to create a common way forward for the benefit of the people of the region.
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