By Baritua Abe
Since the establishment of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), respectively, with the sole mandate of developing the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria, there has never been a time the Federal Government has shown so much commitment and political will towards the fulfilment of the mandate of the interventionist agencies as it is under the current administration of President Mohammadu Buhari.
The icing on the cake to getting the Ministry and NDDC to live up to the expectations of the people of the region seems to be the appointment of Mr. Umana Okon Umana, an astute administrator, as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, which overseers the running of the Ministry and the commission.
Just five months after his appointment, Mr Umana is already delivering on the expectations of the people. From the resuscitation of the scholarship scheme of the Niger Delta Development Commission, the timely response to the recent flooding situation across the region, the construction of skills acquisition centres in the area to achieve specialised training in commerce for the economic development of the people of the Niger Delta region, to the implementation of policies targeted at the development of the Niger Delta, the Umana led Ministry and NDDC are rekindling the people’s hope for a better and more prosperous region as well as restoring their faith in the President Buhari led administration.
It was indeed heartwarming to read over the weekend through the Minister of State, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Sharon Ikeazor, of the plan by the Ministry to hand over the Skill Acquisition Center at Abaezi-Egbema, Ohaji /Egbema Local Government Area, Imo state to the Imo State Government before the end of February 2023.
Ikeazor made this known to newsmen in Owerri, while on inspection of the Ministry’s intervention projects located in Imo and Abia states.
She pointed out that the purpose of the construction of the skills acquisition centre in the area was to achieve specialised training in commerce for the economic development of the people of the Niger Delta region.
According to the minister, “We are satisfied with the volume and quality of work at the facility which was designed to provide specialised training in commerce, the facility would be commissioned and handed over to the Imo State Government before the end of February 2023.
“Also, the Polytechnic Nekede has written to the Ministry requesting the use of the facility as one of its campuses so we are waiting for approval from the Presidency on that but at the same time engaging the Imo State Government to see how we can put this to good use immediately.”
Worthy of commendation also is the recent steps taken by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to institutionalize transparency and accountability in the NDDC through the publication of the list of completed projects by the Buhari administration in the Niger Delta through the NDDC.
The publication, it was learnt, was part of the new transparent and accountable leadership initiated by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Okon Umana.
Mr. Umana Okon Umana, had promised to publish list of projects completed by the President Buhari’s administration in his recently Interview on a Radio Nigeria Audience Participatory Programme, “Politics Nationwide”. Regretting that Nigerians could be harsh in their judgment as a result of lack of information, the Honourable Minister scored the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government high on project executions in the Niger Delta region.
“This administration has done very well. That is why one of my key deliverables as Honourable Minister is that we are going to publish a Compendium of completed projects, not only for the MNDA but also for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The lists showed projects, their costs, contractors, benefitting communities, institutions and dates they were awarded to the firms.
About 2506 projects undertaken by the Commission were roads, shore protection, solar water, buildings, desilting, electricity, canalisation among others in the nine States of the Niger Delta region, shows the Buhari’s achievements in the region.While the road projects which dominated the list, cut across hundreds of communities in the Niger Delta region as beneficiaries of the projects, said the projects have help in the socio- economic development of the region.
However, despite the laudable achievements so far recorded by the Niger Delta Ministry, there are still a lot to do in the region to make up for the years of neglect, abuse, and exploitation.
The pertinent issues so dear to the hearts of the Niger Deltans which the Buhari administration should do is the constitution of the board of the NDDC whose nominees have been sent to the Senate for screening and the publication of the outcome of the forensic audit conducted in the Commission.
If the current reforms of the Buhari administration are sustained in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the NDDC, there is no doubt that the people of the Niger Delta region shall soon be ushered into the much anticipated golden era and eldorado in the development of their region.