From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Niger Delta stakeholders have applauded the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Umana Okon Umana over the planned repositioning of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to deliver on its core mandate.
The stakeholders under the aegis of Niger Delta Patriotic Alliance (NDPA), North America Chapter, Washington DC, USA, in a letter agreed that the expected rebranding of the commission would enable it to serve as a vehicle to drive the socio-economic development of the region.
In the letter signed by its Secretary General, Mr. Kenneth Friday, the group stated that despite the expected gains of the proposed rebranding of the Ministry of the Niger Delta Affairs and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the leadership must understand that time is of the essence, as millions of people across the region are languishing in abject poverty.
According to him the NDDC should be given new communities’ empowerment and entrepreneurship training contracts awarding powers, and to ensure payments of verified and completed old contracts before the expiration of the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr. Friday noted the policy directions and expected rebranding of the commission under the Ministerial leadership of Mr. Umana O. Umana has vindicated the stakeholders on their support and called on him to carve a niche for himself.
“We expect him to take a sound decision on various issues affecting the people of the region including the completion of the East-West road, the review of various infrastructural development projects across the region,” Friday wrote in the letter.
The stakeholders also restated their call on Umana that due to the few months terminal date of the President Buhari administration from office, he should create a template on which the next administration will act upon resumption and immediately set up a substantive Board for the NDDC.
Mr. Friday called on President Buhari to direct the Minister of Finance Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed and the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa to release the commission’s funds being held by these agencies to facilitate the smooth operations of the NDDC towards achieving its core mandates.
The stakeholders applauded Umana and the Effiong Akwa management team at the NDDC for prioritizing project execution and payments that deliver up the most impact for the region, and their new focus in project executions in “security, health, education, water and road infrastructures.”
They welcomed the Minister’s directive that “all further awards of contracts on water hyacinths in the Niger Delta should be suspended while all such ongoing projects are reviewed.”