• Monday, June 24, 2024
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NDDC, stakeholders brainstorm on way forward for oil region through collaboration

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Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has summoned its partners to brainstorm on the way forward for the oil region and the role effective collaboration would play in the new move.

This is the focus of the meeting of the Partners for Sustainable Development (PSD) forum, which has been summoned on Tuesday, July 19, 2016.

The one-day forum, which holds at the Atlantic Hall of the Hotel Presidential, is expected to take a serious stance on the heaps of arrears owed the intervention Commission ranging over N800 billion, a drag that is believed to hold back the Commission from moving hard on development projects.

A major issue is the failure of Federal Government over the years to release any money from the ecological fund as required by law, and the failure of the nine owner states to remit what they were expected to remit.

The NDDC had cried out for long over the remittances from the oil companies who were required by law to remit 3 percent of their annual budgets. In doing this, the NDDC was never allowed to know what their annual budgets were let alone calculate what 3 percent amounted to.

This seemed to leave the Commission winking in the dark, until recently when the Senate intervened and secured the budgets. Reconciliation is said to be going on at the moment, but inside sources said it was obvious that the oil companies had been remitting less than required and debt might be hanging there, too.

Another major worry to the NDDC is said to be the unplanned development in the region, whereby governments and organisations simply walk in and start projects without consulting the Master Plan developed over 10 years ago that should guide the citing of projects. In some instances, state governments are said to mount their signposts on projects being executed by the NDDC, thereby creating conflicts and confusion in the minds of the communities.

The stakeholders would also use the opportunity to educate the youths and some disgruntled politicians allegedly fuelling militancy and violence to understand the exact damage this was doing to the economy and wellbeing of the region.

Ibim Semenitari, acting managing director of the NDDC, has been speaking recently to youths and elders in the region to understand that the development of the region could only come from funds remitted from oil sales, either to the state governors through 13 percent or to the NDDC or contributions to the Commission for direct project execution.

At the forum, Semenitari would take the floor for 20 minutes to present a case for ending violence and for true partnership so that the work of the Commission would be effective, under the topic, “Partnership/Partnering: Strategies to deepen collaboration with tiers of Government and Development Agencies.”

She would also welcome the delegates during the plenary where she is expected to harp on the new vision and the new rules adopted by the NDDC to create confidence in transparent execution of real projects, as opposed to the past where projects were hardly seen but funds always expended.

The Ministry of Niger Delta through the minister, Usani Uguru, would also take the floor to brief the stakeholders on how the ministry was positioned to be relevant to the region in the present administration under ‘Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs Intervention Strategy in the Niger Delta.’ Governors of the nine states of Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Cross River, Edo, Ondo, Imo and Abia are expected to make serious presentations.

The governors are known to send representations instead of putting physical presence. Many reasons have been adduced for this but many have pointed at the political differences in the region. The amnesty office would also take the floor after the non-governmental organisations and top leaders of the region had spoken. This will allow the traditional fathers from oil communities to make a case; often demanding for release of funds owed the Commission.

The oil companies would throw some light on “Driving Investments in the Niger Delta: A Socio-Economic Case”, the security chiefs would take the task of handling “Security Situation in the Niger Delta and the way forward.”

Ford Foundation would speak on “Restoring Livelihoods: A Collective Responsibility”, while the Sam Daibo-led ‘Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta’ (PIND) would lead other CSO, CBO, FBO on the “The Role of      the Ombudsman.”

A communiqué would be issued at the end of the brainstorming day with hopes that this time around, the resolutions would be implemented.