Why Niger Delta agitators must trust Buhari
Like the legendary British Lord Acton once said: “There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities.”
Anybody who is adept in public administration will not dispute the fact that the 21 century model of sustainable development is what is called the PPP model. PPP simply means Platform, People, Process and it is a development model that evolved in the mid-70s when some Asian countries wanted a quantum leap from being under-developed to developing economies.
In response to the agitation for the development of the Niger Delta region, the Nigerian government created the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as a platform for a rapid development of the oil-rich South-South region of the country.
The mandate of the NDDC was to facilitate a process whereby basic social infrastructure will be established in the Niger Delta and also to promote the manpower development of the region. But if government had done the right thing creating the NDDC as a platform for the rapid development of the Niger Delta region, it cannot be said with the same level of accuracy that the commission has had the privilege of being managed by people who could effectively deliver on its mandate.
It is no coincidence, therefore, that the NDDC which was supposed to be a platform for rapid transformation of the Niger Delta region has over the years become a conduit pipe of corrupt money for the elite of the region.Just last week, foreign students from the Niger Delta who are on scholarship of the NDDC complained of abandonment. That is the sorry situation the NDDC has found itself.
But there appears a refreshing hope at the horizon with the appointment of Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba as the new chairman of the commission. It goes without doubt that Ndoma-Egba is a round peg in a round hole for the NDDC top job. His last public assignment as the Leader of the Senate would have exposed him to the several critical challenges of the Niger Delta and thus, also better positions him to have a full appreciation of the low hanging fruits within the governmental system.
Even beyond that, Ndoma-Egba has an early exposure to public service. It is a well known fact that at age 27, he became the Commissioner for Works and Transport in the old Cross River State which comprised Akwa Ibom State and the current Cross River State. But what really better prepares Ndoma Egba for a job like NDDC’s is that perhaps unlike many of his peers, he established and nourishes his top-notch law office at his homestead in Cross River State.
Truth is that the NDDC is a grassroots government establishment, and the person better prepared to steer the affairs of the commission in order for it to achieve its topmost objective needs to be someone that is well acquainted with the environment and the immediate pressing needs of the people of the Niger Delta region.Beyond his capacity to effectively drive the much-needed development of the Niger Delta region through the platform of the NDDC, Ndoma-Egba also has the kind of personality and pedigree that can help rebrand the commission.
Knowing President Buhari full well, it is not unpredictable that he is particularly impressed with Ndoma-Egba’s clean record of public service. And while Imoke has become a recluse in the state he once rode its roads like an emperor, Ndoma-Egba is bringing a mass following into the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State.
By his nomination of Ndoma-Egba as the chairman of the board of the NDDC, President Buhari has succinctly unveiled his mission in the development of the Niger Delta region. The problem of the Niger Delta has for long assumed an international dimension and the lack-lustre posturing of previous governments to squarely address the problems of the region has given birth to myriad of problems top of which is youth restiveness and attendant insecurity in the region.
Major investors are daily running away from the region on account of the high level of insecurity and, unfortunately, there is a dearth of credible voices to intercede for the restive youths of the region.
The situation in the Niger Delta as of today is tumultuous; it is such that requires an expert in social engineering, someone who not only can build bridges across the landscape of the Niger Delta, but can also build bridges of peace in the minds of the restive youths of the region.
In his new role as the chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ndoma-Egba needs the support and cooperation of leaders and youths of the region to restore the commission to its original mandate.Balogun, a public affairs commentator, lives in Lagos.