The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has restated its determination to establish collaborative relationships and focus on governance, as part of its commitment to transformative change in the Niger Delta region.
Speaking during a meeting with representatives of the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, at the United States Embassy in Abuja, the NDDC Managing Director, Dr Samuel Ogbuku, stressed the need to rebuild public trust and enhance service delivery in the Niger Delta region.
The NDDC delegation, led by Ogbuku, included the Director of Information Technology and Innovation, Engr. Emeka Ani; NDDC Consultant on Public-Private Partnership, PPP, Dr. Uche Igwe, and other directors.
On the other hand, the USAID delegation from the Peace and Democratic Governance, PDG, programme, included the Office Director, Daniel Morris, who connected virtually; Deputy Director, Melissa Desai; Programme Specialist, Aisha Shehu; and Governance Specialist, Machill Maxwell.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer noted that the meeting was aimed at exploring collaborative strategies that aligned with several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. Specifically, the discussions mirrored the aspirations of SDG 16, which focuses on promoting peace, justice, and building strong institutions, and SDG 17, which advocates for partnerships to achieve these goals.
Ogbuku said that the new management of NDDC was keen on doing things differently, stating that the new approach signified a commitment from the Commission to revitalise its image and operations and align itself more closely with global sustainable development objectives.
The NDDC boss briefed the USAID team about several ongoing reforms and programmes the Commission had embarked on, including “Project Hope, which is building a comprehensive database of young people in the Niger Delta to ensure that a solid foundation is built for interventions without undue political interferences.”
He also briefed the team about the progress of the ongoing assessment by KPMG, which is now producing a standard operating procedure (SOP) to cover all aspects of the Commission’s activities and transactions.
Ogbuku informed the USAID of the willingness of the Commission to partner with the agency in every area that could empower the women and youth of the region in order to sustain the peaceful atmosphere currently enjoyed in the region. He pointed out specific areas like agriculture, technology, climate change and potential windows through which the agency could explore cooperation in a mutually beneficial manner.
The USAID Office Director, Daniel Morris, commended the proactive efforts of the NDDC, noting that it was indicative of a shift from traditional practices. He expressed enthusiasm over the Commission’s quest to establish productive partnerships.
Morris, who led the USAID team, thanked the NDDC Managing Director for leading the renewed efforts to challenge the negative public perception of the Commission and undertaking interventions that restore stakeholder confidence and rebuild public trust. The two teams agreed to continue to work together both in technical support and other areas in line with the mandate of the Commission.
The Deputy Office Director of the PDG programme, Melissa Desai, affirmed that the agency would consider the areas suggested as they plan the new programme in order to reestablish their footprint in the Niger Delta. She praised the efforts of the Commission in working in synergy with the state governments to ensure adequate coordination that reduces duplication and waste.
The Partnership expert and consultant to the Commission, Dr. Uche Igwe, thanked the USAID team for the meeting and confirmed that the interaction would continue to ensure that it yielded results that would positively impact on sustainable development in the region.