Let’s build renewed, sustainable Niger Delta –NDDC chairman

Chairman of the Governing Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission. NDDC, Mr. Chiedu Ebie, has charged leaders and key stakeholders from various sectors and ethnic nationalities to collaborate for the development of the Niger Delta region.

Ebie, who spoke at the Technical Session of Niger Delta Stakeholders Summit taking place in Port Harcourt, stated that it was important to agree on implementation strategies for sustainable development of the region, in line with the theme of the conference: “Renewed Hope for the Sustainable Development of the Niger Delta.”

He said: “This Summit is more than a conference; it is a call to action. Let us embrace this task with the seriousness, creativity, and unity it demands. Together, we can create meaningful and lasting change for the Niger Delta and chart the course towards a revitalised region that fulfils its immense potential.”

The chairman said that the gathering marked a crucial step in addressing enduring challenges of the Niger Delta as a step towards positioning the region towards development that is sustainable.

“We are dedicated to setting the region on a path of sustainability and growth. By fostering comprehensive engagement, we will accurately identify key issues and craft solutions that reflect the true needs and realities of the region’s people.

In his lead presentation at the technical session. the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, said that the Niger Delta must be clearly captured as a National Security priority in the vision of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his Renewed Hope Agenda, in a more active and determined way.

Ribadu, who was represented by Mrs. Osareti Ihuoma Grace, said that within the President’s broader and long-term National Security vision included moving internal security from kinetic to non-kinetic operations, noting that his office would emphasise security from human and socio-economic development point of view to deepen democratic culture in the Niger Delta.

Ribadu said further: ‘In view of the above two central ideas, I am determined to set up, for the first time in the ONSA, a Directorate that shall specialise in security of the Niger Delta through which we can, as Stakeholders, take a critical look at the peculiar security challenges of the region in a focused and professional way.

“Accordingly,” he reiterated, “my team on Niger Delta (led by my Special Adviser on Energy Security and Niger Delta Affairs) is currently working closely with the Governors of the Region and the Presidency. They will eventually include all Stakeholders of the region such as community leaders, traditional rulers, women, youth and students, government security agencies, federal government agencies relevant to the region, as well as businesses, civil society organisations, peoples’ organizations and the media.”

Giving a clue to the emerging policy on the Niger Delta, he added: “The president recognizes that Niger Delta region provides an estimated 75% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings. Also evident is that most of Nigeria’s maritime domain and international coastline outside of Lagos, all of which are within the Gulf of Guinea, are in the coast of Niger Delta and this region is critical to the development of Nigeria blue economy.”

The NDDC Managing Director, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, assured that the Commission would continue to focus on completing capital projects that would add value to the Niger Delta region. He noted: “Our commitment is to work together towards transforming the region, in line with the 8-Point Presidential Priorities, as well as in accordance with the demands of the NDDC Act of 2000.

“We have no intention of clashing with or competing with state governors in the region. Instead, we aim to collaborate as development partners to facilitate the rapid progress of the Niger Delta region.”

Ogbuku stated that President Tinubu had charged the NDDC to complete and commission signature projects that would impact the lives of Niger Deltans. Following this directive, he said, the Commission recently inaugurated five flagship projects covering roads, bridges and electricity, across the region.

In his remarks, the National Chairman of PANDEF, Senator Emmanuel Ibokessien, stressed the need for the NDDC to be adequately funded, noting: “You cannot establish an agency and fail to adequately fund it while expecting it to fulfill its mandate. I urge our royal fathers to kindly appeal to Mr. President for the prompt release of the over 2 trillion arrears owed to the NDDC.”

He added: “I believe that the intervention of our royal fathers can play a pivotal role in advocating for the release of the funds owed the NDDC and facilitate constructive dialogue among relevant stakeholders.”

The President of the Ijaw Youth Council, Ambassador Jonathan Lopkobiri, also appealed to President Tinubu to show more urgent commitment towards the development of the Niger Delta. He said: “Today, we are facing one of the most severe crisis in the Niger Delta region; the state of the East-West road. We urgently call for a genuine commitment to repair this vital infrastructure.”

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