From Transaction to Transformation; The NDDC Way

February 19, 2024
Transaction to Transformation

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

A peep into the profile of members of the present board and management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), an agency conceived in the year 2000, as a fresh beginning and a more focused effort on development in the Niger Delta with its mission chiefly to sustainably develop the region in terms of infrastructure and human capital, will reveal that it is arguably filled with some of the best trained and most highly skilled personalities from the Niger Delta region, in the history of the commission.

For instance, Chiedu Ebie, a lawyer, technocrat, former commissioner, former Secretary to the Delta State Government and a player in the oil industry, whose ward harbours oil-yielding wells and crude gathering stations from many drilling points in Pan-Ocean’s OML 147, functions as the Chairman of the governing board, Samuel Ogbuku, the Managing Director of the agency, from crude oil-rich Bayelsa state, boasts of an impressive profile spanning over 20 years of experience and expertise in crisis management and capacity building, built across diverse fields of excellent human endeavour, among others.

Aside from being laced with personal intelligence, excellent leadership and managerial acumen, also working in favour of the team, in my view, are three separate but related factors.

First is the board and management’s early recognition that it is their responsibility to search for new fields to increase the wealth and well-being of the people, make the Niger Delta succeed and give the poor within the region a future.

The second has to do with their understanding of leadership as an endless circle of transition that calls on public officeholders to look back to a more productive look forward.

Third and very key is the board and management’s appreciation of proper information management as the life wire of the agency’s business, more particularly as it is evident that when an organisation pays no attention to information management, it invariably leaves the survival of such an entity to chance.

The above assertions naturally came flooding after listening avidly to Ogbuku speak on the topic NDDC; the Journey so far and the Road Ahead, at the organisation’s just-concluded strategic retreat held in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, where he, among other remarks, described the 24-year-old interventionist agency as a palliative to the people of the region.

He also said the NDCC’s activities, projects and programmes were not only brazenly underreported but failed to tell its story and as a result of this fundamental mistake, allowed others to push to the general public information, that is, of course, not true.

To change the narrative, Ogbuku, on behalf of the board and management, presented to the stakeholders a scorecard that amply deconstructs the previous perception hanging on the neck of the agency.

He told the gathering that NDDC has in the last two decades of its existence executed more than 7,000 projects and awarded over 2,000 scholarships, adding that the agency has done a lot in connecting communities and villages.

The NDDC Boss further highlighted critical programmes and policies that the agency recently initiated and is currently seeing through within the region.

According to him, these policies/programmes, in no particular order, include but are not limited to Rewind to Rebirth, Project Light Up the Niger Delta region, Transiting from Transaction to Transformation and  Project Hope, among others.

While Ogbuku observed that Project Hope will create opportunities in ICT, Tech and other areas of expertise that will be transported to other parts of the world, he also hinted that the agency was investing in the promotion of good governance in its operations aimed at regulating the agency as well as protect the investments of those that want to do business with the agency.

As to why the future looks bright at NDDC, Ebie, the board chairman, provided insight into it during his welcome address at the retreat.

“Since our inauguration just over two months ago, as a highly accountable and proactive board, we have achieved progress. Together, we have worked to dispel the negative narratives that once plagued the Commission, aiming to make that a thing of the past.

“Similarly, we have adopted a leadership style that aims to instil confidence in our people, prioritizing their well-being through constructive collaboration and mutual respect.

“We will propose strategies for the reintroduction and reestablishment of coordinated development to its proper place in the Niger Delta discourse, design implementation ideas and ideals that will remind members of the board and management that we are confronted with a larger responsibility of nation building.

“At the end of this retreat, we should become aware that the main parameter for our assessment as board members and management staff will largely be dependent on the way we discharge our duties and the legacies we leave behind in terms of developing and improving the region,” he stated.

Echoing a similar  ”policy framework”,  to what was canvassed by the board chairman, the Managing Director of the NDDC ”whispered” a development that all Niger Deltans of goodwill should be proud of.

“Our focus in 2024 will be on continuous engagement with various strata of NDDC’s stakeholders, to grasp and understand the needs of the peoples of the Niger Delta region.

“The commission is set to bring relevant stakeholders in the region together to discuss ways of improving the development of the Niger Delta region.  We will chart a new course for the region,” he stated.

Ogbuku said the stakeholder’s summit and forum would serve as a yardstick for feedback and possibly finding ways of improvement in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu.

Indeed, while this commentary on the commission’s planned development of the region flourishes, for me, the invitation to the 2024 strategic retreat, of the past NDDC leaderships; the likes of Onyema Ugochukwu, Pioneer Chairman of the board; Larry Koinya, former Chairman and of course; Timi Alaibe, Pioneer Managing Director, among others, was not only a right step taken in the right direction but exemplified a board and management that is ready, willing and eager to recognize as well as draw lessons from the wealth of experience of their predecessors.

This fact becomes even more appreciated when one brings to mind the fact that these past leaders in question in their goodwill messages at the retreat appreciated such a gesture, adding that ever since they left NDDC, they have never been invited to such an event.

This understanding of leadership as an endless circle of transition by the present board and management is in the opinion of this piece very commendable and worthy of emulation by other agencies and commissions.

Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator for Media and Policy at the Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via [email protected]/08032725374

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