Amid allegations of mismanagement at the Niger Delta Development Commission, NNDC, government sacked the last Board and appointed a sole administrator to run the place.
However, there is a renewed hope that the federal government has realized its past mistake and has decided to turn a new leaf in the management of the NDDC. It has just named a new board headed by Mr. Nsima Udo Ekere, from Akwa Ibom State to lead the operations of the commission for the remaining term of the Bassey Abia-led board that was sent packing last year.
Ekere, though seen as a politician by virtue of having struggled to be governor of his state in 2007 and ending up as deputy in the later part of Governor Godswill Akpabio, is principally an entrepreneur and innovative thinker with a short but impactful public service career. He studied Estate Management at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, graduating in 1986. In the years following, Nsima Ekere has built successful businesses and garnered cogent national and international experiences in real estate, urban and regional planning, oil and gas, power and construction. Ekere, 51, is not new to development issues and human management, having been deeply rooted in those areas for the greater part of his life. His imprints are all over Akwa Ibom and other parts of Nigeria, especially his contributions to the housing and oil and gas sectors of the Nigerian economy. He designed most of the investment programmes that Akwa Ibom is using today to drive its development, having been the Executive Chairman of the Akwa Ibom Investment and Industrial Promotion Council, AKIIPOC, the state investment agency (2007 – 2012). He also served as Chairman, Ibom Power (2008 – 2011). As Executive Chairman of AKIIPOC, Ekere conceived and implemented the first private sector gas-to-power project in Nigeria, an innovative strategy to convert natural gas into feedstock for power generation, as a public – private partnership with the Akwa Ibom State Government.
He also developed and implemented a framework for State Governments to undertake power distribution within their states. He worked with the Office of the Vice President and the National Council on Power and the Governors of Cross River, Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom to create a special purpose vehicle, 4Power Limited, to assume responsibility for power distribution across the four states
Clearly, of the 27 years of his public and private sector experience, Ekere has spent 19 years in top management positions working cross-functionally in a variety of challenging projects across various economic sectors.
His deep understanding of the parlous state of the Niger Delta and his solid involvement in the development process of some states in the region are likely to give him an edge in developing solutions to the challenges which are a bit similar given the difficult terrains and the cultural affinity of the natives of the region.
The NDDC may make the difference this time around going by the caliber of persons named by President Muhammadu Buhari into the board. The minimum expectation of the people is that with Ekere as Managing Director and Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba, a respected lawyer and politician,as Chairman, who have lived and worked closely in the same Cross River State before Akwa Ibom state was carved out in 1987, there would be synergy and close collaboration in the discharge of their duties to bring out the best for the people unlike the usual cat-and-mouse relationship that has often been seen between the Board and Management of the NDDC.
The Board also has two executives directors for Projects and Finance/Administration. Adjogb e Ajenakevwe from Delta State is the Executive Director in charge of projects while Mene Ienyie Derek, from Rivers State, is the Executive Director/Head Finance and Administration in the new Board.
The Federal Government has promised to make the commission serve the interest of the people of the Niger Delta this time around.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, whose office supervises the NDDC, Babachir David Lawal, said this in response to enquiry: “We have to reorganise NDDC to serve as a strategic development organisation to be able to address the peculiar needs of the region and its people. As part of the reorganisation, we are going to beam our searchlight on the commission’s activities and see how best to reposition the agency for better performance. We do whatever necessary to put NDDC in a better shape for the overal development of the area. I can tell you that the Federal Government is very sympathetic to the Niger Delta because of its peculiar terrain and we need to take urgent steps to put things right in the place.”
By Soni DANIEL
Culled from Sunday Vanguard, August 21, 2016.