When Mr Chiedu Ebie, the Chairman, Governing Board, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), during a send-forth held for retired staff of the Commission, in December 2023, at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, noted that the commission is poised to fast-track development of the Niger Delta region, only but few paid attention to that remark, but with the current accelerated and coordinated development ongoing in the region, it is obvious that Ebie’s remark has become a word made flesh.

In the referenced statement, Ebie said, “The current governing board of NDDC is committed to quickening the pace of development of the Niger Delta region to enable the people to benefit democratic dividends. So, we intend to put in our best to ensure that we change the narrative concerning the NDDC and the perception about the Niger Delta out there. But more importantly, we need to work as a team to bring the much-needed development to the region”.

Essentially, this promised commitment today reflects in the nine mandated states and exemplified in critical projects as designed by the agency; sustainable livelihood, building partnership, lighting up the Niger Delta, improved youth capacity and skill base, stakeholders engagement, project hope for renewed hope, among others.

To further enflesh the agency’s capacity to develop the region in the interest of every Niger Deltans, the Managing Director/CEO, NDDC, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, while speaking during an on-the-spot assessment of the Niger Delta Regional Specialist Hospital, on Friday, March 15, 2024, at Hospital Road, Port Harcourt, said, “In line with Mr President’s marching orders to ensure we embark on Legacy Projects that will impact the people of Niger Delta positively, the NDDC is committed to finishing the Niger Delta Regional Specialist Hospital (Cardiovascular and Orthopedic).

“It is on this basis that we are going round to revive stalled and abandoned projects that are of immense value to the Region. Funds have been expended; hence, we want to ensure that we add value to those funds by completing these projects for the use of the people. The Region lacks Specialist Hospitals, so when completed, it will afford Niger Deltans easy access to medical services and improve medical tourism in the Region. Our intention is not just to finish this project, but to put it to use immediately by going into Partnership with reputable medical organizations of international pedigree and technical know-how in Hospital Management. We shall finish, commission and put to use, this facility before the end of the year.”

Again, in keeping up with that burning desire of finishing strong in lighting up the region, the Governing Board of the NDDC, a few days ago, announced the completion and imminent inauguration of the 132/33kv electricity substation at Ode-Erinje in Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State. A feat it described as significant as it heralded the planned handover of the sub-station to the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) for operational management.

The scope of the power project, it was reported, covers the evacuation of light from Omotosho with a step down at Ode-Erinje, Okitipupa, through a 132KV double circuit transmission line with two 30/40MVA transformers. The transmission lines running through Ode-Erinje, Okitipupa, passes through 145 electricity towers.

Aside from the awareness that the milestone followed the performance bond recently signed by the Commission with the Ministry of Niger Delta Development, also very impressive is the disclosure that when operational, the electricity sub-station will illuminate over 2,000 communities across five local government areas within the oil-producing region of Ondo State, significantly impacting lives by ending decades of darkness.

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In the same line of action, Edo, Delta and Bayelsa states have reportedly received positive attention from the agency’s light-up Delta project as the following communities, towns and villages have been reportedly provided with Solar Lights = 150 – Ikoro, Edo State. (2). Solar Street Lights 229 – Gbaraun town, Bayelsa State. (3). Solar Street Lights =229 – Adobu in Bomadi, Delta State. (4). Solar Street Lights = 229 – Okoloba, Bomadi, Delta State. (5). Solar Street Lights,229 – Odimodi, Delta State. (6). Solar Street Lights, 229 – Biniebi-AMA Community, Delta State. (7). Solar Street Lights, 229 Ogulagha, Delta State.

Others reportedly include: (8). Solar Street Lights, 229 Sokebolou, Delta State. (9). Solar Street Lights, 458 Okerenkoko/Bibopre Zion, Delta State. (10). Solar Street Lights, 458 Oporoza/Oporoza Zion, Delta State. (11). Solar Street Lights, 229 Igoba/Peppe-Ama, Delta State. (12). Solar Street Lights, 229 Inikorogha/Azama, Delta State. (13). Solar Street Lights, 229 – Kurutie, Delta State. (14). Solar Street Lights 150 Kokodiagbene, Delta State. (15). Solar Street Lights, 150 Kunukunuma, Delta State. (16). Solar Street Lights, 150 Benikrukru, Delta State. (17). Solar Street Lights, 229 Kenyangbene and adjoining communities, Delta State. (18). Solar Street Lights,229 OGBINBIRI Community, Delta State among others.

In the areas of strategic partnership, the NDDC with the World Health Organization (WHO) a while ago formalized a strategic alliance to execute an innovative health insurance project. Beyond this, numerous health programmes are in the pipeline, promising substantial advantages for the residents of the Niger Delta region.

Away from health to education, it is a common knowledge that after an intense and rigorous selection process largely driven by technology, the NDDC has awarded scholarship to 200 successful candidates from the region to pursue Master’s Degrees overseas, a programme, which of course is an important component of the agency’s human capital development that seeks to use education to change the fortunes of the region.

While the entire process may have climaxed with presentation of letters by Mr. Chiedu Ebie, NDDC board Chairman, to the prospective scholars, what is, however, newsy going by the process and outcome fairness that characterized the entire exercise, is that the pre-condition for sustainable development now exists in NDDC just as it takes good people to have good agencies of government.

Adding context to the discourse, the NDDC Foreign Postgraduate Scholarship programme started in 2010, designed to produce top level professionals with technical knowledge, capacity and expertise to compete in oil and gas industry, as well as other sectors. So far, the NDDC has sponsored 2,708 scholars at both Masters and Ph.D levels since the inception of the programme.

In addition to the high level transparency which branded the process, and made it possible for most of the beneficiaries to be those that never knew anyone from the NDDC or anyone that works there, the unique outcome and other positive vibes have significantly made Deltans to hastily but rightly conclude that NDDC has finally got a board with the understanding that it is their duty to serve our communities and embrace its aspirations, both now and in the future, by assuring the people economic growth, education, health, security, stability, comfort, leisure opportunities and freedom in ways that will allow for the most conducive atmosphere to achieve the targets that will guarantee their welfare and make bright future possible for the people of the region.

Jerome-Mario, a media specialist, writes from Lagos