The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has signed two more Memoranda of Understanding, MOU, as part of the new management’s strategy and vision to drive sustainable development in the Niger Delta region.
The MOUs signed on Wednesday with Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta, PIND and BudgIT Foundation, were a follow up to similar ones signed on May 15, 2017, between the NDDC and Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform in Nigeria, FOSTER, and the Market Development Project in the Niger Delta, MADE.
Speaking during the signing of the MOUs at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, the NDDC Managing Director, Mr Nsim Ekere, stated that the NDDC Governing Board and Management were determined to establish the right institutions, partnerships and strategies imperative to bringing true development to the Niger Delta region.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that the partnerships would reaffirm the collective commitment to building a better Niger Delta region, “for us and the generations to which we must hand over a fitting bequest. A Niger Delta region that fulfils our expectations rewards our aspirations and renews our faith in Government and all other institutions of authority.”
Mr Ekere said that the partnership with PIND, a Chevron and USAID-funded non-governmental organization, would assist the NDDC in “building peace, resolving conflicts, building capacity and providing the enabling environment for sustainable living in the region.”
He declared: “The Governing Board and Management of the Commission has approved the collaboration which will make it sustainable for the continuous professional development of the Commission and the socio- economic regeneration of the Niger Delta region.
“In very clear and unambiguous terms, this Commission is mandated to develop our people and the region. In the execution of that challenging and unenviable task, management, in collaboration with the board, is at liberty to enable a pragmatic vision of regional development, roll out strategies and tactics for execution of that vision and harness both internal and external metrics that would facilitate its optimal actualization. This collaboration with PIND is in line with our mandate.”
He highlighted the key objectives of the collaboration with PIND, which included “Provision of technical assistance to the Commission in strategy development, monitoring and evaluation, partnerships and stakeholder management; Human and institutional capacity building/utilization, to improve productivity and service delivery in the Commission.”
Others are Design and implementation of agricultural value chain projects that will support and enhance production, agro-processing and market access, especially in cocoa, palm oil, cassava, aquaculture, etc.; Micro and Small Enterprise Development and access to finance, as well as Repositioning and rebranding of the Commission’s image within and outside the region;
The partnership will also help the NDDC in monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment of the Commission’s funded projects and programs; support for the it’s efforts in research, analysis, information gathering, advocacy, peace-building and conflict resolution and facilitate advocacy for the review of the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan, to reflect extant vision and priorities of stakeholders.
Commenting on the MOU with BudgIT, the NDDC Managing Director noted that it would offer mobile, online and offline solutions to trigger discussions around budgets and take budgeting beyond being a news item to becoming a focal point of debate among Nigerians. “This is what we are determined to achieve, an openness that attracts interrogation and communal and stakeholder support and input,” he said.
Mr Ekere said that in a democracy, citizens had the right to know how their taxes were expended in the delivery of public infrastructure and services. He noted: “BudgIT, as this Governing Board does, believes that for effective policies, citizens need data to make informed decisions on what will impact them.”
“Today we will append our signature as well as our commitment, to the letters and spirit of this MOU, determined to strengthen our systems, enthrone greater clarity and transparency to our processes, and to begin to build the Commission as an institution that is well-equipped to realise its mandate, in line with the vision of government and the expectations of our people.”
Dr. Dara Akala, the Executive Director of PIND, stated that the value of partnership could not be overemphasised, adding that collaboration was at the core of his organisation’s DNA.
He said that PIND, as a foundation established by Chevron to promote economic growth in the Niger Delta, relied on partnership as the key part of its strategy. He added: “It will be an act of self-delusion for any organization to think that it can do it alone. So, partnership is very important to us in PIND. This is the beginning of good things to come. Beyond the highlights, what will give us joy are those things that we can deliver to the people of the Niger Delta working together with NDDC.”
In his own remarks, the leader of the BudgIT Foundation, Mr Oluseun Onigbinde, said that they were signing the MOU” to forge a partnership in transparency and accountability, efficiency and proper use of resources.”
The NDDC had earlier signed an MOU with the Ondo State Government for the construction of the 50-kilometre Akodo-Araromi/Ibeju-Lekki Road, connecting Ondo and Lagos states.