Sir: I wholeheartedly support the signing of the $15 billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Public Private Partnership (PPP) by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and a US-based company, Atlanta Global Resources, to construct a rail link to all states in the oil-rich Niger Delta region. The Niger Delta region is made up of nine states, namely Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ondo, Rivers, and Imo states.
NDDC was created by the administration of former president Olusegun Obasanjo in 2000 with the sole mandate of developing the Niger Delta. Before NDDC, we had the Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC), which was established in 1993 under the chairmanship of Albert Horsfall. The defunct OMPADEC, and its successor agency, the NDDC, have been plagued by corruption and inefficiency.
Several NDDC administrations have tried their best, but they still fell short of the core mission envisioned for the commission. The proposed rail project is a rare opportunity for the agency to redeem itself in the eyes of the public, live up to its mandate, and justify the trillions of naira that have been allocated to it over the last two decades.
Nigeria is largely dependent on the export of crude oil and needs stability in the oil-rich region. The rail project, if successfully executed, would be a major leap to development for the region. It would also create jobs for the teeming youths, thereby curbing militancy and agitations.
The NDDC must do its utmost to ensure that the project becomes a reality. It must avoid the pitfalls of past projects which have become moribund. Strategic planning, commitment, functional roadmaps, and good management are a sine qua non if this project must be successful.
The NDDC must involve critical stakeholders across the nine Niger Delta states in this project. Political leaders, traditional leaders, youth leaders, union leaders, religious leaders, etc. must be carried along to avoid this project becoming a victim of the “Nigerian factor.”
The state houses of assembly and the national assembly should provide oversight functions and the legislative framework necessary for the success of the rail project.
Source: The Nation