By Ogenyi Ogenyi, Uyo
Stakeholders in the development of the Niger Delta have harped on the need for a review and update of Niger Delta Regional Developmental Masterplan.
They have also said that frequent changes in the Governing Board of the Commission have largely accounted for the challenges in project execution and delivery in the development of the region.
In a communique issued at the end of a two day retreat for members of the board and management of the NDDC in Ikot Ekpene last weekend, the stakeholders maintained that the review have become necessary as the master plan remained a crucial framework for guiding and implementing development initiatives in the region.
The communique endorsed by board chairman, Chiedu Ebie and Managing Director Dr Samuel Ogboku and made available to newsmen urged the Federal Government to ensure that the current Board would complete its tenure and that there is continuity in succeeding Boards to ensure sustainability of the Commission’s projects.
The communique which called for proper synergy, collaboration and coordinating framework between the Ministry of Niger Delta Development, State Governments in the regions, the NDDC and development partners also made a case for proper management of the procurement process by the board and financial autonomy for the commission outside the Treasury Single Account regime in view of the peculiar construction window of the Niger Delta.
“That procurement is at the heart of governance and one of the government activities most vulnerable to corruption. Therefore, the Board and Management of the NDDC must effectively discharge their responsibility to manage the Procurement process involving all stakeholders, without sacrificing the core objectives as provided under the Procurement Act.
“There is the need for the urgent release of all outstanding statutory contributions of the Federal Government to the NDDC fund, as the non-release of these funds has significantly hampered the ability of the Commission to deliver on 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.
“That there is need for the Board and Management to acquaint themselves with relevant rules, in order to effectively discharge the responsibilities imposed under extant laws. Consequently, the NDDC needs to ensure that its projects and programmes are procured in line with extant rules and laws.” It said.
The communique maintained that the MD as the Chief Accounting Officer of the Commission remained responsible for all procurement processes but is encouraged to co-opt the Executive Directors and Heads of Departments during procurement planning whilst the ultimate responsibility would remain with him.
It charged the Commission to establish clear, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound (SMART) goals that would foster increased public trust while the leadership neede to consistently demonstrate their commitment to ethical principles, through their decisions and behavior.
“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 main purpose of all reform must be the improvement of the lives of the people. Reforms tailored to the local context have a better chance of success. Therefore, the NDDC must deploy creativity and innovation to drive reforms and development in the region.
“There is need for intentional partnerships and conflict management imperatives to secure value. Therefore, Stakeholder engagement and management must be strategic and improved continuously.
“The existence of political pressure on the operations of the Commission cannot be denied. However, there is the need for the Board and Management of the Commission to develop the political will to manage the pressure.
Thereafter, a Performance Bond was signed between the Ministry of Niger Delta Development and the NDDC.” It concluded