Dr. Okowa made the call Wednesday when the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, led a team of the Commission’s management to pay him a courtesy visit at Government House, Asaba.
The Governor commended NDDC for completing several projects in Delta state and advised that the budgetary process of the interventionist agency needed to be reviewed. He said this was necessary to ensure that projects were adequately provided for in its annual budgets, in order to bridge funding gaps.
Dr. Okowa said that it was good to see the directors of the NDDC going round to inspect projects because, apart from helping to stir up the contractors, it was also necessary for proper planning. “Until you understand what is on ground and the extent of the challenges, you may not be in a position to put together a budget or have a good financial projection,” he said.
He commended the NDDC for emphasizing collaboration among the various stakeholders in the Niger Delta, saying: “It is quite important that we take note of this and I am aware that we have a Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan facilitated by the NDDC. The need for partnership cannot be over-emphasized. It is very important for the NDDC and the states to share information on projects to avoid cases of duplications.”
In her address, the NDDC Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Semenitari, said that the Commission had initiated about 28 regional projects and over 650 other projects across the 25 local government areas of Delta State.
She said the Commission is implementing projects such as bridges, shoreline protections, roads, water boreholes, rural electrification, solar-powered lights, skill acquisition and health centres, among others.
Mrs. Semenitari also revealed that the social sector is not left behind. “We recently donated Lassa fever materials and equipment to the State Ministry of Health as part of our fight against Lassa fever,” she stated, adding: “Only last week, we had the finals of our programme geared towards encouraging our young daughters to embrace the future by looking at engaging in STEM-related careers. While I must applaud the Delta State Ministry of Education’s support for this programme, it is our desire that our states work with us better to encourage much laudable projects.”
The NDDC boss revealed that in the course of her inspection of projects in several communities, she had been confronted by the poverty of delivery on standards, stating that things should not continue in that manner. “The new NDDC is determined to truly make a difference, and we invite you, as a major stakeholder, to kindly work with us to achieve the goal,” she said
Mrs. Semenitari said it was important to build a more engaging and robust cooperation and collaboration among all stakeholders, “from communities to the civil society organizations, from companies and agencies operating in the Niger Delta (local and international) to governments at all levels. At the heart of the change agenda of the Federal Government, which established the NDDC, is the imperative to build partnerships that improve processes, quicken project, programme and service delivery, as well as reduce overall cost.”
She noted that for success to be guaranteed, it was important for all stakeholders to unite under one unimpeachable vision, adding that the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan, which the NDDC facilitated, provided such a platform.
She stated Delta State offered great opportunities for collaboration, particularly in agriculture and aquaculture. She said: “The administration of President Buhari is determined to encourage food production and agro-allied business and a lot can be achieved when we work together in these areas. Being close to the great market of Onitsha puts Delta state in a special place, because farmers and processing concerns can find ready business.”
She called on Delta state to also take over eight health centres which the Commission constructed in the state as part of its efforts to improve the health of citizens in the Niger Delta. “These had been completed,” she said, “with two of them fully equipped, including with ambulances and incubators for neo-natal care.”
She appealed to the governor to direct the State Ministry of Health to take over the health centres in the spirit of partnership and asked the government to also take over the fully constructed and equipped ICT skill acquisition and training centre in Patani.