Saturday, August 27, 2011

Effective development in the Niger Delta region

Nigerian Compass
26 August 2011

Written by  Nigerian Compass

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was established in the year 2000 through an Act of the National Assembly to redress the long years of neglect of the Niger Delta.

In September 10, 2008, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, announced the creation of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to address the same problems for which the NDDC had been created.

NDDC Act states its mission is to “facilitate the rapid even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful”.  At the inauguration of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, President Yar’Adua said that “it would co-ordinate efforts to tackle the challenges of infrastructural development, environment protection and youth empowerment in the Niger Delta.”

It is clear that there is an overlap in the responsibilities of NDDC and the Ministry.   The intense rivalry between them played itself into the media last week when the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godsday Orubebe revealed that due to a break down in communication, projects were being duplicated and the much-needed synergy is absent. He demanded the subordination of NDDC to the Ministry as its supervising authority. Chief Orubebe’s demand raises a lot of fundamental issues.

The NDDC is a creation of law which specifies that there should be a Board of Directors; and the direction and control of the Commission’s functions under the Act are vested in the President.  Similarly, control and functions of the Ministry are vested in the Presidency; so in other words, the two bodies are reporting to the President on the same issues.

This confusion in the responsibilities of the two bodies can stall any significant work in the Niger Delta or trigger duplication of projects and wastage of resources. It can promote fraud and provide a cover for same by either body claiming execution of the projects of the other. NDDC itself is riddled with allegations of irregularities in the management of resources and is bedeviled with intra-board conflicts.

The inauguration of an eight-member Presidential Committee on the Niger Delta Commission last month was largely to calm the storms within its Head-Quarters in Port Harcourt. Headed by Mr. Steve Oronsaye, the Committee is to unravel the problems affecting the Commission.

We submit that the most fundamental problem militating against the effectiveness of the NNDC and the Ministry of the Niger Delta is the overlap of functions that has created a dysfunctional environment. That dysfunctionality can best be removed by scrapping the Ministry of the Niger Delta Affairs. The Ministry is an aberration. Federal Ministries are normally established to cater to needs that are national in nature. Sectional needs that are important, such as the need to develop the Niger Delta area are best met through agencies like the NDDC under the supervision of the President.

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