IN Charles Dickens’ seminal novel, A tale of two cities, which was first published in 1859, the author opens up by positing that, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”
The apposite nature of this timeless quote comes into sharp focus when viewed against the prism of current happenings in the country.
It is no longer news that we are in a recession, as oil prices have plunged, and agitations in the Niger-Delta region have resumed in frightening dimensions, with militants coming out of the creeks to destroy critical national infrastructure. Conversely, we can bask in the positive assurance that Nigerians have always been a very resolute and determined breed who have succeeded against all odds. Our huge youth demographic, if positively channeled, can be a game changer; one good news is that many of the leading lights in various fields of endeavours globally are Nigerians and the opportunities for growth in our country seem abundant. As such, even though the horizon looks bleak at the moment, these times present us with the golden chance to re-invent our nation and let the world know that many good things can come out of our country.
As a nation where oil accounts for close to 90 per cent of exports and roughly 75 per cent of the budgetary revenues, the region that produces black gold is still very far from the ‘Promised Land’ of development, in spite of the huge sums that have been committed to the area by way of amnesty, and most importantly, through the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), an agency created by the Obasanjo administration in 2002 with a mandate to accelerate the development of the Niger Delta.
The challenges of both the NDDC and the region have been well chronicled. Some of these include infighting among the leadership team, as well as leaders in the region, misalignment between the agenda of past NDDC teams and the real developmental needs of the area, cronyism, opaque procurement processes, as well as a myriad of other problems.
It is not in doubt that the newly appointed Managing Director of the NDDC, Mr. Nsima Ekere, a stellar technocrat and an astute politician, is the right fit for the job.
Like it is often said, everything rises and falls on leadership, the choice of Ekere is indicative of the President’s resolve to fix the problems of the oil-rich region in a sustainable manner and in accordance with the extant provisions of the law.
Therefore, it is important for the new NDDC management to pay close attention to enthroning accountability in all its processes and shed the toga of being just another “contract-awarding” institution.
- John Effiong,