This piece was inspired by a recent statement credited to Barr. Chiedu Ebie, chairman of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), made to a delegation of Concerned Agbor Citizens (CAC), who were in his Agbor residence to congratulate him on his appointment as well as thank him for the thousands of streetlights that he influenced, which currently dots urban and rural communities in Agbor, Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State.

In the referenced declaration, Ebie said in parts: my first task is to ensure that I work harmoniously with the managing director of the commission. We will not be in the news for the wrong reasons.

“I must be frank with you; I am getting a richer understanding of my community. This has further exposed me to the nuances and complexities among us. I know your expectations from me. I will exceed these benchmarks with your support and prayers. I will always remain dedicated to this job the same way I did in all my past appointments and will always ensure that I do not betray the confidence reposed on me. This, I assure you.”

Essentially, while the visits by the concerned citizens may have come and gone, Ebie’s insight as captured above explains some silent but salient points. It paints the picture of an authentic personality leading the present board and management of NDDC to rediscover the secret for creating lasting value for the region. His words exposed how his personal humility as the head of the governing board amply sets the stage for the ongoing peace and harmony presently enjoyed at NDDC and engineers the ongoing infrastructural and human capital development in the Niger Delta region.

Even as this transformative leadership prowess in the region is celebrated, this piece must however, underline that the NDDC Chairman’s current disposition and burning desire to exceed expectations and make NDDC under his watch not be in the news for the wrong reasons neither came as a surprise nor appears in any way newsy.

The reason is not far-fetched.

Aside from a veiled admission by Niger Deltans of goodwill that Ebie is leading a governing body that firmly recognizes that it is their duty to serve Niger Delta 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 our welfare and a bright future, Ebie, for those that knows him, is an individual with an understanding that as humans, we must live with the consciousness that every good effort and sincere contribution towards the development of mankind must be vigorously pursued without reserve.

As a former Commissioner of Primary and Basic Education as well as Secretary to the Delta State government, he demonstrated this fact to the fullest. He creatively and seamlessly managed different people with different experiences, assumptions, values, belief and habits to their work. And provided direction, protection, orientation, managed conflicts, shaped norms and laced with emotional capacity to tolerate uncertainty, frustrations and pains and raised tough questions without getting anxious himself.

He firmly understands that as a public office holder, he is watched closely, that people are noting every move they make, that their followers are learning a great deal about them and what they really believe in as opposed to what they say. What the award explains is that people’s support is the greatest asset public office holders and civil servants enjoy.

Essentially, the current happening at NDDC has again confirmed as true the words of Lee Kuen Yew, former and pioneer Prime Minister of Singapore, that we need good people to have good government, for however good the system of government maybe, bad leaders will bring harm to their people’.

Away from the recent commentary by the board Chairman, there are even more compelling reasons to believe that good public leadership qualities domicile in their family.

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In my recent but similar essay, I captured an expression by a public affairs analyst where it among other remarks, noted that Chiedu Ebie had an uncle, Mr. Fortune Ebie who was one of the founding architects of modern Nigeria, literally speaking. Mr. Fortune Ebie was the Director of the Federal Housing Authority who planned and executed the building of what still today is the biggest Housing Estate in Nigeria, the FESTAC Housing Estate in Lagos, Nigeria. Fortune Ebie was the head of the FHA with Brigadier Olu Obasanjo as Minister of Works and Housing and delivered a housing estate that remains even after a half century, the pride of the black man. It was showcased during the First World and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in 1977 and it brought admiration to Nigeria from the rest of the world.

This argument makes more meaning when one commits to mind the fact that Barr. Chiedu Ebie is the son of late Prof. John C. Ebie, pioneer Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), who passed on to eternal glory some years ago, after showcasing sterling public leadership attributes as head of the health institution established in May 1973.

Also heartening and a fact the entire Niger Deltans should be proud of is the awareness that the Chairman is not alone in this quest for development of the region via quality delivery of projects. He is ably supported by the agencies management team and board members. They view themselves as Generals in the Army of Nigeria Delta development.

As an illustration, the Rivers State representative on the NDDC Board, Tony Okocha, during a recent interactive session with stakeholders and contractors at the commission’s State Office in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, reportedly enjoined contractors executing projects for the agency to return to their various sites and ensure that they meet the required standards for quality jobs, as there will be no payment for substandard jobs.

Okocha, who insisted that contractors who fail to meet the required specifications would not be paid for the projects, also added that the commission would execute projects and programmes in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the President Bola Tinubu-led administration that means well for the people of the Niger Delta region. “I am coming to your sites with my team of competent engineers to assess the work you are doing and if we find the work to be sub-standard, you will have yourself to blame as the current NDDC Board will not compromise on standards.”

This transformative ideas and idles that characterizes the board and managements actions and inactions in the past few months have further postured as deserving the call by the Former/pioneer Chairman of the interventionist agency, Chief Onyema Ugo Chukwu, while delivering goodwill message at the recently held retreat in Akwa Ibom state, on the Federal Government and the Minister of Environment to allow the current board and management complete their tenure as ‘there were signs of new things happening in NDDC.

Appealing to the Federal Government and the Minister of Niger Delta Development to allow the present NDDC Board to complete its tenure, the elder statesman emphasized on the imperative of amending 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. 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, according to him, 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.” He concluded.

For me, this needs to be done not for political reasons but for the survival of our democracy and development of the region. Niger Deltans must on their part support the ongoing efforts by the board and management to bring a total infrastructural and human capital development of the region to fruition-a responsibility which has taken the nation too long a period to complete.