The Cross River State Governor, Prof Benedict Ayade has welcomed plans of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to review the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan and pledged to support the process.
Prof Ayade spoke at the Government House, Calabar, during a courtesy visit by the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Prof Nelson Brambaifa, who was accompanied by the Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Dr Chris Amadi and other directors of the Commission.
The governor regretted that very little of the Master Plan, which was expected to last from 2006-2020, was implemented. This, he said, had made it imperative to undertake a major review of the integrated roadmap for sustainable development.
Ayade further underscored the need for a comprehensive review to reflect the current realities in the states covered by the NDDC, noting that the Master Plan was meant to set up structures that would enhance collaboration among the stakeholders.
The Governor appealed to the NDDC to support the government’s Rice Seeds and Seedlings Factory in Calabar, which he said was part of the agro-industrial revolution taking place in Cross River State. “The NDDC has a duty to ensure that the factory survives to maximise the potentials of our people in agriculture,” he said.
Earlier in his address, the NDDC Chief Executive Officer, urged all governors and important stakeholders of the Niger Delta to look at the Master Plan again and make it into the roadmap for development that it was designed to be.
Prof Brambaifa stressed that the stakeholders must re-energize the Master Plan and revive the Partners for Sustainable Development Forum, as vehicles for collaboration and harmonisation of development objectives.
He affirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari had charged the NDDC to facilitate a stronger collaboration among stakeholders in the region to help fulfill its mandate of facilitating the rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta.
The NDDC boss acknowledged the strategic importance of Cross River State to Niger Delta development, stating that the Commission would seek ways to forge a stronger alliance with the government and people of the state.
According to Brambaifa, the NDDC would work with Cross River State Government to resuscitate and strengthen existing partnerships, as well as find new areas for collaboration, especially in agriculture.
He added: “Agriculture remains a goldmine waiting to be fully tapped, away from oil and gas. Indeed, no sector offers a greater opportunity for job and wealth creation, as well as overall improved living conditions than agriculture. Farming and fishing are the traditional livelihoods of our people and they offer us a more certain path to sustainable livelihood.
“The NDDC signed a memorandum of understanding with Cross River State in 2005 on the poultry and hatchery joint venture. This programme was designed to ensure the availability of day-old chicks and healthy poultry products, as well as help generate employment and create wealth among youths and women in the state. The Commission had facilitated its counterpart fund of N126,508,640.00 only. That project, despite its promise, remains largely unrealised. We, therefore, call on your government to help NDDC revive this project.”
Prof Brambaifa said that the NDDC was determined to improve infrastructure, such as roads, electricity and jetties, as well as provide water, better healthcare, and opportunities for skills acquisition, employment, higher education and small scale businesses.
He told the governor that NDDC had completed 204 projects in the state, while 138 on-going and 104 were yet to commence.