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Solar Street Lamps; Agbor Community And The Changing Role Of NDDC

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By; Jerome-Mario Utomi
For the nine (9) mandate states under Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the past four months refreshing transformational leadership experience, particularly the provision of solar lamps to various communities, among other ongoing infrastructures provisions such as roads and health facilities,  by Mr. Chiedu Ebie led governing board and management, has further confirmed the inherent wisdom behind the bible injunction in Proverbs 29; 2, which says that ‘when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, But when the wicked rules, the people mourn’.

Essentially, being a federal government agency established by Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo in the year 2000 with the sole mandate of developing the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria, Niger Deltans had expected the agency to provide for their needs, but it was otherwise an era of individual and family self-reliance. The wide array of public services in the region to which were expected of NDDC, such as education, infrastructure, health and social programs were essentially left to individuals, the private sector or to charitable organizations. The people tried to satisfy their needs without significant impute from the agency’s intervention. In fact, in the well over two decades of its existence,  the role of the agency was very limited.
While many often referred to this time as the period of “negative state”, others concluded that the NDDC achieved little considering the enormous resources committed to it and the hope placed on it by both the government and the citizens of the Nigeria Delta.
The rest raised the questions as to how much of NDDC’s mandate has been truly delivered by the agency’s past leaderships? How much positive impact has the NDDC made to the quality of life in the Niger Delta? Is life in the region better substantially because of the works of the commission?
It was indeed an unpromising start/era!

However, even as the above questions appear to have lasted for too long a time, the recent positive record of achievements in the areas of human capital development, infrastructural provisions, promotion of transparency and accountability in the past four months by the current leadership of the agency have significantly and finally  provided answers to these time-honored nagging questions.

As an illustration, very recently, an indigene of Agbor community in Ika South Local Government Area of Delta state, while reacting to the solar lightings which currently dots every part of Agbor and its environs, provided by the agency, said ‘Chiedu Ebie is a blessing to Agbor Community and a precious gift to the entire Niger Delta region. It is a heartening development that during his leadership as Chairman of the NDDC Governing board, those who live in darkness in major communities of the region  have seen the light’’.
In a similar vein, another resident of the town (Agbor) succulently captures the present feat by the interventionist agency as follows; it’s truly commendable to see the impactful measures taken by Barr. Chiedu Ebie, the Chairman of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (N.D.D.C), in bringing about positive changes and development to the Ika Federal constituency.

The installation of over 3,435 solar lights within a short span of four months, he added, is a significant stride towards enhancing the aesthetics, safety, and overall well-being of the community. This initiative not only adds to the beauty of the Agbor metropolis at night but also addresses the longstanding issue of security, which is crucial for the residents. It is indeed a laudable effort that deserves recognition and appreciation.

‘’The call for other individuals in positions of authority to emulate such gestures and utilize their influence for the development of their communities is important. By leveraging their positions and resources for the betterment of society, leaders can make a lasting impact and contribute positively to the progress and welfare of their constituents.
Expressing gratitude and offering prayers for Barr. Chiedu Ebie’s continued success, guidance, and protection, as well as for his ability to attract further human capital developments to the Ika Federal constituency, he observed a heartfelt acknowledgment of his dedication and commitment to serving the community. Such initiatives play a vital role in addressing the challenges of underdevelopment and fostering positive change in the region’’. He concluded.
Indeed, like the Agbor community, this piece  appreciates the gesture by by Barr. Chiedu Ebie, led the NDDC governing board. It is a  welcome effort laced with capacity for transforming the environment, most especially with regards to safety.  Also worthy of acknowledgement is Mr. Ebie’s reported operation of open door policy that avail resident’s unhindered opportunity  of reporting directly to him, sub substandard jobs, faulty or non-functioning solar lamps.
Beyond safety and security, another ingrained reason why  the present efforts by the Ebie led NDDC  board and management remain commendable is that availability of infrastructure enables development and also provides the services that underpin the ability of people to be economically productive.
Infrastructure investments help stem economic losses arising from problems such as power outages or traffic congestion. The World Bank estimates that in Sub-Saharan Africa, closing the infrastructure quantity and quality gap relative to the world’s best performers could raise GDP growth per head by 2.6 per cent annually.
Most importantly, good means of transportation,  as we know,  will contribute to lower food prices through its impact on the operation of the market, increase the welfare of households and improve food security, increase trade, lead to lower prices and lower price dispersion, and offer farmers incentives to commercialize while leading to a reduction in price competition. “The transport sector has a huge role in connecting populations to where the work is,”.

Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), at Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via .

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