The largely derailed Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), an interventionist agency, is currently struggling to reinvent herself with a pro-people identity.
The agency that has been a festering nest of some looting politicians since 2000, is battling under Professor Nelson Brambaifa, her new acting Managing Director, to change the development narrative of the largely ravaged commission with abandoned/uncompleted projects dotted all over the oil and gas region.
Apart from the ‘’vulture’’ politicians who feasted on the resources of the commission, it seems there is no tangible impact of the NDDC yet on the lives of the people bearing the harsh burden of oil pollution.
Brambaifa’s media handlers say their principal has assured that NDDC will invest more on human capital development in a frantic bid to secure and sustain development in the oil region.
On assumption of office in January this year, the new NDDC management reportedly discovered that the agency stood at the crossroads. They are therefore, according to insiders, determined to fashion another path that will bring development closer to the people and improve their living conditions.
Insiders say one of the strategies adopted by the new management is to quickly revive confidence in the commitment of the Commission to facilitate sustainable regional development.
NDDC under Brambaifa is aware that they have a duty to take the people of the Niger Delta to the next level of physical and social infrastructural development, which is expected to reverse the long years of neglect and poverty and change the unfortunate narrative of the oil region.
For Brambaifa, ‘’we have begun a process of reforms that would, again, make NDDC a good brand name around the region. We are improving our processes, putting the right officers in charge of duties in which they are more suited, strengthening project implementation and financial instrumentation and protocols, and being able to tell our stories, particularly the impact of our interventions in the communities, better.’’
He is claiming that the commission has revived the Foreign Post Graduate Scholarship programme and made it more effective and efficient, ‘’because we believe in building a new generation of professionals and skilled workforce. We are reviving our medical missions across the Niger Delta, to bring free healthcare to the people. We are also empowering youth and women groups and offering opportunities for job creation and employment.’’
The new NDDC chief is also stressing on the need to invest in agriculture. To this end, he has declared that the agency will strengthen the traditional livelihoods of the people, by investing in agriculture in ways that would make them sustainable.
According to him, ‘’some of our agriculture impact programmes will include distributing and training women and youth on creating increased value to palm kernels and oils. We will add value to popularly grown agriculture products like cassava by distributing cassava mills and processing equipment. We will enhance value in fish and fisheries.’’
While it is expected that the commission will provide physical infrastructures that meet the exigent needs of the people, following long years of neglect, we are mandated to do much more. We are expected to invest in the individual, he has noted that the most compelling logic behind the National Social Investment Programme, introduced by President Muhammadu Buhari as a strategy to improve the quality of life of the citizenry, was that the people constitute the wealth of Nigeria.
Brambaifa has underlined that impacting on the lives of the people will remain the driving vision of the new management of the NDDC, remarking that the interventionist agency has started paying contractors, on projects inherited by the new management.
‘’We believe that the fastest and most credible way to develop the Niger Delta is to provide physical infrastructure and equip our people to properly manage them. And so we are mindful to also provide intervention on roads and bridges, water supply, electrification, shore protection and canalisation. In all these, we are driven by the grand vision of President Buhari to build a country which fulfils the expectations of all Nigerians, and meets their needs.
‘’Fostering peace and the enabling environment for investments, tourism and the greater wellbeing of the Niger Delta people are equally important because no credible development can occur in an unstable society’’, he added.