Edo State Government has declared its readiness to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for the construction of the Benin-Abraka Road.
According to a statement made available to Tribune Online, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State said this in a courtesy visit paid on him by the board and management of the commission at the Government House, Benin City, on Wednesday.
The visiting NDDC team included the Chairman of the Governing Board, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, Managing Director, Mr Nsima Ekere and Executive Director Projects, Mr Samuel Adjogbe, among others.
Obaseki, whose acceptance followed an offer by the NDDC chairman, said the Benin-Abraka Road was a high priority project for the state, adding that the road links Benin to the oil-producing hub of the state.
He said, for that reason, the state would be ready to sign an MoU on the project within seven days., even he told the NDDC team that the state government had been waiting anxiously for a meeting to enable both parties exchange ideas on how to drive development projects in the state.
He however absolved new NDDC management of any blame over the poor performance of its contractors, adding “We know that this management was not the cause of the poor performance of the commission in the past. So, it will be unfair to continue to blame them.”
Responding, the NDDC chairman, Senator Ndoma-Egba told the governor that the commission was working with a new attitude of cooperation and collaboration, pleading that the commission should not be judged by its actions in the past.
“Don’t look at our past, look at our tomorrow. We have seen the light and we are now born again”, he said, adding that NDDC had returned to its original mandate of fast-tracking development in the Niger Delta region.
He said that the commission had invited the Presidency to re-activate the advisory as well the project monitoring committees of the commission to ensure that all stakeholders work in harmony.
“We believe that our projects must be monitored not only by us but by outsiders. We want to earn the confidence of our stakeholders. That is why we are auditing our systems to ensure that we are transparent. Before now, our processes were too opaque. But, we are opening the processes now”, he said.
Senator Ndoma-Egba declared that NDDC was making efforts to produce a new Master Plan, noting that no society can move forward without a plan.
“We may have to re-validate or upgrade the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan. We are thinking beyond oil, because oil is a finite resource and we all know that one day it will dry up or it will be overtaken by technology.
“So we have started the process of setting up a Niger Delta Development Bank”, he said, adding that the commission was also preparing to build an internet network across the Niger Delta region.