The Edo State Government says it is ready to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, with the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, for the construction of the Benin-Abraka Road.
Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, stated this during a courtesy visit by the Board and Management of the NDDC to the governor at the Government House in Benin City on Wednesday.
The visiting NDDC team included the Chairman of the Governing Board, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, the Managing Director, Mr. Nsima Ekere, the Executive Director Projects, Engr. Samuel Adjogbe, and other directors of the Commission.
Governor Obaseki, whose acceptance followed an offer by the NDDC Chairman, noted that the Benin-Abraka Road was a high priority project for the state. He said that the road links Benin to the oil producing hub of the state. For this reason, he said the state would be ready to sign an MOU on the project within seven days.
The Governor told the NDDC team that the state government had been waiting anxiously for a meeting to enable both parties exchange ideas on how to drive development projects in the state. He said that in spite of his initial misgivings, he had decided to look forward to better days in state’s collaboration with NDDC. “Since you have confessed your sins, we have forgiven you,” Obaseki said.
The Edo State Governor absolved the current NDDC board and management of blames over the poor performance of its contractors, adding “We know that this management was not the cause of the poor performance of the Commission in the past. So, it will be unfair to continue to blame them.”
The Governor suggested that the NDDC should rethink its operating philosophy. “We want to see the NDDC as a management company that oversees the resources of the nine Niger Delta states. We need to work with you to know your budget and procurement processes so as to align them with those of Edo state,” he said.
The NDDC chairman, Senator Ndoma-Egba told the Governor that the Commission was working with a new attitude of cooperation and collaboration. He pleaded that the NDDC should not be judged by its actions in the past. He added: “Don’t look at our past, look at our tomorrow. We have seen the light and we are now born again.”
Senator Ndoma-Egba stated that the NDDC had returned to its original mandate of fast-tracking development in the Niger Delta region. He said that the Commission had invited the Presidency to re-activate the Advisory Committee as well the Project Monitoring Committee of the Commission to ensure that all stakeholders work in harmony.
The Chairman said: “we believe that our projects must be monitored not only by us but by outsiders. We want to earn the confidence of our stakeholders. That is why we are auditing our systems to ensure that we are transparent. Before now, our processes were too opaque. But, we are opening the processes now.”
Senator Ndoma-Egba declared that the NDDC was making efforts to produce a new Master Plan, noting that no society can move forward without a plan. He said: “we may have to re-validate or upgrade the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan.
“We are thinking beyond oil, because oil is a finite resource and we all know that one day it will dry up or it will be overtaken by technology. So we have started the process of setting up a Niger Delta Development Bank.” He said that the Commission was also preparing to build an Internet Network across the Niger Delta.
The NDDC Chairman stated that the NDDC had since inception embarked on 708 projects in Edo state with a total value of N86.34billion. He said that out of these projects, ӏ3ӏ have been completed but not commissioned, while ӏ73 have been completed and commissioned.
Speaking on the importance of the proposed MOU on the Benin-Abraka Road, the NDDC Managing Director, Mr. Nsima Ekere noted that apart from linking the Edo state capital to the hub of oil and gas in the state, the road would open up more opportunities for boosting agriculture in that part of the state.
He assured that the NDDC would continue to explore more opportunities to work with different development partners.