Credit: X – NDDC.

Abasifreke Effiong, Uyo.

The federal government has been told to grant financial autonomy to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) outside the Treasury Single Account (TSA) regime to allow the Commission take advantage of traditional credit sources in completing its projects.

The government was also told to release all outstanding contributions it is owing the NDDC to give the commission sufficient funds to complete numerous ongoing projects.

Stakeholders from the Niger Delta made the demands at a two-day Board and Management retreat of the NDDC with the theme, “Renewed Hope: A new era for vitality, peace and development”, held at Four Points by Sheraton, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, on Friday 9th and Saturday 10th February 2024.

Participants at the retreat included former Chairmen and Managing Directors of the NDDC, Governors, members of the National Assembly and Speakers of State Houses of Assembly from the region.

Participants at the retreat said in a communiqué that the TSA and the non-release of statutory contributions to the NDDC have slowed down the Commission’s ability to deliver its mandate.

“In view of the peculiar construction window of the Niger Delta region, there is the need for some form of financial autonomy for the NDDC outside the Treasury Single Account (TSA) regime. This is as part of the process of getting the Commission take advantage of traditional credit sources in completing its projects and deliver real impact and sustainable development to the longsuffering people of the region.”

READ: Governor Eno seeks periodic engagement between Governors and Niger Delta Ministry

“There is the need for the urgent release of all outstanding statutory contributions of the Federal Government to the NDDC fund, the non-release of these funds has significantly hampered the ability of the Commission to deliver on its mandate.”

The communiqué noted frequent changing of the Governing Board of the NDDC has posed huge challenges in project execution and development of the region, urges federal government to allow the current Board complete its tenure and ensure succeeding Boards continue with ongoing projects.

It also called on the Commission to review the Niger Delta Regional Developmental Masterplan to guide development initiatives in the region, and ensure synergy with the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and stakeholders.

“A reviewed and updated Niger Delta Regional Developmental Masterplan remains a crucial framework for guiding and implementing development initiatives in the Niger Delta, as there can be no sustainable development without developmental plans.”

“There is need for proper synergy, collaboration and coordinating framework between the Ministry of Niger Delta Development, State Governments in the regions, the NDDC and development partners.”

“There is need for intentional partnerships and conflict management imperatives to secure value. Therefore, Stakeholder engagement and management must be strategic and improved continuously. There is need for strategic communication of the value added by the NDDC to its stakeholders, to change the negative perception about the Commission.”

The need for inclusion of heads of departments in procurement planning by the MD/CEO, development of governance policies to promote clarity of roles in the Board, and creation of SMART goals to demonstrate commitment to performance and increase public trust, were some of the advocacy points canvassed by participants at the retreat according to the communiqué.

“MD/CEO is encouraged to co-opt the Executive Directors and Heads of Departments during the Procurement planning for the Commission. Whilst these officials will offer useful recommendations, the ultimate responsibility lies with the MD/CEO.

“There is need for the development of key governance policies and procedures to promote clarity of roles and minimize discord on the Board, as well as defined reporting framework covering key stakeholders and transparency.”

“The Commission should establish clear, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound (SMART) goals that the Commission will demonstrably commit to and deliver upon, fostering increased public trust”, the communiqué read.

Some of the papers presented at the retreat were , “Delivery of sustainable development: Strategic imperatives” by Mr Timi Alaibe, former MD/CEO of NDDC; “Essentials of Public Procurement” by Mr Emeka Ezeh, Pioneer DG, Bureau of Public Procurement; “Relationship between Supervisory Ministries and Governing Boards” by Mr Frank Nweke, Jr.

Other papers included, “Corporate Governance and Compliance” by Mr Tolu Odukale, partner , KPMG Nigeria; “Public Sector Reforms: Role of Innovation & Operational Excellence” by Mr Joe Abah, former DG, Bureau for Public Sector Reforms; “Conflict & Stakeholders Management in Successful Management of MDAs & Value Creation”, by Mrs Offiong Anyanwu, CEO, Stransform Consulting; and “Harmonisation of Regional Development Master Plans of the Niger Delta Region” by Messrs Atei Beredugo & Charles Achodo.

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