The agitation of the Niger Delta against the injustice of environmental degradation caused by oil companies and the resulting impoverishment of the people of the region led to the creation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in 2001.
The agency is saddled with the responsibility of redressing the historical neglect to which the oil and gas-rich region had been subjected by successive governments since independence.
Unfortunately, the hope that the intervention of the NDDC would change the fortune of the Niger Deltans has not been fulfilled due to the poor leadership of the agency.
A bridge under construction on the East-West Road, the biggest ongoing infrastructure project in the Niger Delta/Photo: Presidential Monitoring Committee Report
However, since the appointment of Chief (Senator) Godswill Obot Akpabio as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs in 2019, things have started changing for the better.
The former governor of Akwa Ibom State met a litany of abandoned projects including even the headquarters of the Commission in Port Harcourt, which has meanwhile been completed.
Senator Akpabio brought his trademark dynamism to bear on his new assignment, breathing new life into the NDDC, Prince (Barrister) Anthony Ekene Onwuka, Special Assistant, Project Monitoring and Special Duties, Presidential Monitoring Committee on the NDDC, said.
The Presidential Monitoring Committee, appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari last October, is chaired by Chief Akpabio.
Speaking in an interview with The African Courier, Prince Onwuka, a Germany-based lawyer and international project consultant, described Akpabio as an uncommon leader. “No wonder, the Commission has recorded landmark achievements in the last few years of his leadership,” he added.
Onwuka praised President Buhari for his determination to ensure that the NDDC delivers on its mandate to the benefit of the people of the long-suffering region.
“One of the potent instruments of enhancing quality and steady delivery of NDDC Projects was the constitution of the Presidential Monitoring Team,” Onwuka said.
Senator Godswill Akpabio’s strict adherence to due diligence in project implementation has resulted in the contractors delivering on schedule unlike in the past/Photo: Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs
“The Committee is saddled with the monitoring and inspection of projects across all the nine component states of the NDDC” and reports to the President via the Chairman of the Committee.
Barrister Onwuka explains the working of the Committee, which he says, “has been up and doing in relation to its mandate and can boldly testify that all engaged contractors have taken their jobs seriously more than ever before and are moving in the right direction”.
Onwuka, who has just released a new report on the work of the Presidential Monitoring Team, reveals that contractors were taking their assignment more seriously as most of the projects inspected were being implemented with increased tempo.
Among these projects are those connected to the East-West Road, a major economic and social corridor linking several states in the oil-rich region.
A new General Progress Report of the Presidential Monitoring Committee on the East-West Road, covering bridge works and dualization of the Onna/Eket-Oron Road and the Eket Bypass (Dual Carriageway) in Akwa Ibom State, gives a pass mark to the contractors handling the various projects.
“Interestingly, these projects were awarded in September 2006 with a commencement date of October 2006 and completion date of April 2011 as contracted. However, due to lack of sincere commitment the projects were abandoned until the appointment of the uncommon transformer, Sen. Dr Godswill Obot Akpabio,” Onwuka said.
Members of the Presidential Monitoring Committee inspecting a project. A new report on the work of the committee reveals that contractors were taking their assignment more seriously as most of the projects inspected were being implemented with increased tempo/Photo: Presidential Monitoring Committee Report
“As an uncommon emancipator Sen. Akpabio has within a period of 20 months, ensured the rapid implementation of the contract to 94.82% completion,” he added.
“The people of the region are eternally grateful to the leadership of President Mohammed Buhari, who has shown commitment to commissioning this road by the second quarter of 2022.”
According to Prince (Barrister) Ekene Onwuka, the Presidential Monitoring Committee conducted its inspection work successfully, describing its experience as “an eye opener to the monumental breakthrough that the NDDC and Ministry of Niger Delta are bringing into the region”.
“In all this the people around the location of these projects are happy and motivated,” he concluded.
Victor Francis/© The African Courier
Click HERE for the Presidential Monitoring Committee Report On MNDA/NDDC Projects/Construction of East-West Road (Section IV)