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Wither the interim common services agency? – Part 3

By Eric Teniola
21 July 2021   |   2:23 am
The New Nigeria Development Company Limited (NNDC) is a financial conglomerate owned by the nineteen northern states of Nigeria to facilitate investment development in the region and Nigeria at large.

[FILES] Former Nigerian Head of State, Yakubu Gowon. (Photo by Kola SULAIMON / AFP) (Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Images)<br />

The New Nigeria Development Company Limited (NNDC) is a financial conglomerate owned by the nineteen northern states of Nigeria to facilitate investment development in the region and Nigeria at large. The corporation’s business portfolios capture various sectors of the northern economy including agriculture, oil and gas, capital market and investments, solid minerals, real estate, hotel management, construction, telecommunications and information technology. It aims at achieving commercial and industrial development in all the nineteen northern states.

The company’s story began in 1949 when the Northern Region Production Development Board (NRPDB) was created by the British colonial government to expand agricultural resources for export. With intense engagement in agricultural support facilities, the board succeeded in providing agricultural extension services, road projects, motor parks, markets, and agricultural settlement scheme. In 1956, it redefined its focus by moving away from export commodities production to the overall development of economic activities in the region under the nomenclature, the Northern Region Development Corporation (NRDC).

With the actualization of self-government in 1960, the firm sought to re-assert itself in Nigeria’s economic space and progressed towards achieving a legal status as a corporation to become the Northern Nigeria Development Corporation (NNDC). At this point in time, the company had become the development finance house, providing socio-economic assistance to stimulate industrial growth in the north. Five years later, it became incorporated.

In 1976, the New Nigeria Development Company (NNDC) was created in place of the Northern Nigeria Development Corporation, amidst a new political order that restructured the Northern Region into sixteen (16) states. The new order involved the incorporation of the company as a limited liability company and an expansion of its portfolios. There upon, NNDC commenced its new financial role in the north requiring it to provide services on development banking operations for the new states. Today its activities are cherished in the north, with its shareholders spreading across all the current 19 states in the region—Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.

The management of the Company was sacked on July 23, 2018 by the Chairman of Northern Governor Forum and former Governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima. Before the sack, the company was led by its former Managing Director, Dr. Ahmed Musa Mohammed. The Chairman of the company was Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu. Other members of the management are executive directors Abbas A. Waziri (corporate planning and business development), Mrs. Kaneng Dokotri Adole (management services directorate), Abdullahi Ali Gombe, (investment supervision directorate), as well as Barrister Barnabas Baba (company secretary/legal adviser). The board chairman has been pushing for renewal of tenure of the management even though insiders believed it has failed in its mandate of executing the five-year-strategic plan approved by the governors in 2013. Majority of the NNDC subsidiary companies cannot pay staff salaries, not to talk of staying afloat to pay dividends, insiders said. In the letter, Shettima told Dalhatu that, “you may kindly recall that during our discussion, you made a strong and persuasive case for the renewal of the executive management’s tenure…. In the meantime, you are once again kindly requested to advise the executive management to vacate their positions immediately as their current tenure has since expired.”   

In 2013, the NNDC raised N1.82 billion from disposing of 19 of its choice properties in Kaduna, and another N4.1 billion from sales of its shares in blue-chip companies like Nestle, Union Bank, among others, to fund the five-year strategic plan.  But five years after, most of the subsidiaries which the NNDC budgeted N2.65 billion for their overhaul are still comatose. Some of the problems affecting the company, according to insiders, include heavy dependency on revenue from its investments in the capital market, inability to attract and secure loans from local and foreign sources, dearth of staff with relevant skills in the critical operational functions, poorly performing and indebted subsidiaries, inadequate returns on equity and assets, and inadequate capital base for required investments. The company has a shareholders’ fund of N9,194 billion, which is a drop from the N9,407 billion of 2016, according to its financial statement dated March 31, 2017. 

The 19 states are represented on the company’s board by their secretaries to state governments. The conglomerate has 10 subsidiary companies, 33 associates companies, interests in 25 quoted companies. The 19 governors are yet to constitute a new management. 

These Companies and Institutions were established by the Premier of the Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello (12 June 1910-15 January 1966) and his party, the Northern Peoples Congress. He labored so hard in establishing these properties and institutions. If these institutions and companies have not survived till today or are poorly managed, it is a sad commentary of those who survived Sir Ahmadu Bello since 1966. The last time the northern governors met in Kaduna, under the leadership of the Plateau state governor, Mr Simon Lalong (67), the Interim Common Services Agency was not included in the agenda of discussion.

If the spirit of the Interim Common Services Agency had survived, the economy of the old Northern Region would have prevented insecurity that is ravaging the region now.
 Very sad and disappointing.

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