The Pioneer Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, has identified frequent changes in the leadership of the Commission as responsible for the many uncompleted projects across the Niger Delta region.
Speaking during a 2-Day Board and Management Retreat at the Four Point by Sheraton, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, Ugochukwu said that the solution will be to ensure the completion of the tenure of all Boards, stating that continuity was key to completion of projects and the success of Boards and Management.
He appealed to the Federal Government and the Minister of Niger Delta Development to allow the present NDDC Board to complete its tenure, noting “that there were signs of new things happening in NDDC.”
Ugochukwu said that it was imperative to amend the NDDC Act to provide for an overlap in the tenure of the members of the Board that ensures continuity. “The lack of continuity has been a serious problem and a drawback to the development of the Niger Delta region,” he stressed.
He stated: “Amending the NDDC Act to stagger the tenure of board members and key officials would indeed help ensure continuity and stability within the organization. This could be achieved by implementing a system where the tenure of members is set at four years, while the Chairman, Managing Director/CEO and Executive Directors serve for five years.
“This approach would help maintain a level of institutional knowledge and experience within the NDDC, as well as provide a smooth transition of leadership over time. By incorporating these provisions, the NDDC can foster long-term strategic planning and consistent leadership, ultimately contributing to the effective execution of its mandate and objectives.”
The former NDDC Chairman advocated the need for a review of the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan and advised that “the roadmap for the development of the Niger Delta should be owned by all the key stakeholders, especially the state governments. It should not be seen as an NDDC Master Plan,contrary to popular beliefs.”
Presenting a paper on Corporate Governance, a partner in KPMG Nigeria, Mr. Tolu Odukale, called for NDDC to practice right governance by implementing the basic rules, practices and processes of corporate governance, as well as adopting a set of relationships between organisation’s board, management and key stakeholders.
“We need to ensure that NDDC has the right governance process to prevent doubt, rancour, mistrust, lack of defined governance structure and ambiguity,” he said, adding: “Majority of stakeholders are yearning for the transformation of the region and their perceptions are important. The commission should continuously imbibe openness and transparency which in turn,builds confidence on decisions made by the board members. The board should be objective and driven by the core mandate of the Commission.”
Also speaking at the retreat, the former Minister for Information and Communications, Hon..Frank Nweke,Jnr. Aligned himself with the views of the NDDC Managing Director, Dr Samuel Ogbuku, who called for the Commission to be taken out of the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
He said: “The important thing with the removal of Treasury Single Account, as an administrative bottleneck in the affairs of NDDC, is to think through and ensure any impediments to the rapid development of the Niger Delta are first considered, discussed and approved. I am sure with the commitment of the Minister, that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will listen to this plea for removal.
“Funds made available, must be for the betterment of the people of the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large. This is an appeal that should be considered.”
Taking a similar position, a public affairs analyst, Mr. Liborous Oshoma, stated: “The Niger Delta Development Commission being an interventionist agency, mandated to offer a lasting solution to the socioeconomic difficulties of the region should be removed from the Treasury Single Account. If the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) can be removed from TSA, I see no reason why the NDDC shouldn’t be removed from TSA, also.”
Oshoma lamented that the NDDC had, in the last 24 years, suffered as a result of inconsistencies in leadership tenures. “Most board and management team have not completed their tenures and this has led to consistent policy somersault at the expense of the region,” he said.