The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr Nsima Ekere, has stated that the Commission is devoting 70 per cent of its budget to the completion of on-going projects in the Niger Delta region.
Mr Ekere, who spoke during an interactive meeting with NDDC design and supervising consultants at the Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, noted that only 30 per cent of the budget would go into new projects to enable the Commission restructure its over-bloated balance sheet.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer declared that the Commission was saddled with huge liabilities and thus, efforts were being made to reduce the number of on-going projects.
He declared: “We have reduced the number of new projects in our budgets to enable us complete on-going ones. We have tried to prioritize them to enable us deliver on the more critical ones.”
Mr Ekere told the consultants that henceforth NDDC would insist on using only proper designs on all its projects to ensure quality and timely delivery.
He added: “To achieve different results for our projects, we must be prepared to do things differently. We must redefine our standards to globally acceptable standards, and compel our contractors to abide by them. We must, indeed, collectively, reaffirm a commitment to do what is right and proper, at all times.”
The NDDC Managing Director affirmed that henceforth designs for projects must be proper and complete before execution, stressing that “the old practice of working from answer to question will no longer obtain in the Commission. We can no longer afford to put the cart before the horse.”
He urged the consultants to ensure close supervision of all projects, while insisting on the integrity and professional competence of all those engaged in project monitoring and supervision.
The NDDC boss highlighted the 4-R strategy, which he said “was designed by the Governing Board as imperative towards optimising performance, as well as ensuring that the Niger Delta Development Commission begins to fulfil its mandate and meet the expectations of the people.”
Ekere affirmed that consultants were the livewire of the projects cycle, adding: “Every project begins and ends with you. What you offer defines the strength and quality of every project.”
He assured the consultants that NDDC would, in line with its 4-R strategy, give priority to payment for their services, stating that it had introduced a new payment system which would make it unnecessary for them to frequently visit the Commission’s headquarters.
Ekere stated that since inception, the NDDC had awarded a total of 8,558 projects across the region in various categories. According to him, the breakdown included 3,529 roads/bridges; 264 jetty/shore protection; 205 canalisation and reclamation; I, 574 energy and power supply; I, 173 water supply. Others are I, 707 buildings, such as schools, civic centres, hospitals; 38 flood and erosion control, as well as equipping and furnishing of 68 building facilities.
In his remarks, the NDDC Executive Director, Projects, Engr. Sam Adjogbe, advised the consultants to always work in tandem with the contractors and the Commission’s engineers. He said: “NDDC project sites should not be turned into battle grounds for contractors and consultants. Consultants and contractors must be in sync with the NDDC for effective job delivery.”
Adjogbe urged the consultants to be writing periodic reports on NDDC projects to avoid allowing things to go wrong before seeking for remedy.
Also speaking at the interactive session, Arc. Ezekiel Nya-Etok, one of the consultants commended the new professional spirit being introduced by the current board and management of the NDDC.
He, however, expressed concern over the delays in project completion, putting the blame on the procurement process, which he said was hampering the timely delivery on projects as budgetary provisions were usually not enough to keep consultants on site.