The United States of America has commended the progress made so far by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), in its quest to fast-track the development of the Niger Delta region and promised to support the effort.
The US Deputy Chief of Mission to Nigeria, Ambassador Kathleen FitzGibbon, who gave the commendation yesterday when she paid a courtesy visit to the management of NDDC in Port Harcourt, expressed delight at the achievements of the interventionist agency.
FitzGibbon, accompanied by other diplomats, had earlier held a strategy meeting with the commission’s Acting Executive Director Finance and Administration, Dr Chris Amadi, who represented the Acting Managing Director, Prof Nelson Brambaifa.
The US envoy said: “I am happy to see the progress made by NDDC since its inception. Please, consider the US a support in the development of the region.”
She stated that the United States was implementing an Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) programme in some Niger Delta states and would need to partner with development agencies like the NDDC.
FitzGibbon said the relevant US agencies would welcome partnerships to increase funding for the provision of anti-retroviral drugs to enable more people living with HIV to lead healthy and productive lives.
The Ambassador stated that the American government was committed to supporting Nigeria to reduce and ultimately eliminate the scourge of HIV/AIDS in the country.
Responding on behalf of the NDDC, the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Dr. Chris Amadi, stated that the commission was ready to partner with US agencies in fighting the menace of HIV/AIDS in the Niger Delta region.
Amadi said: “We recognize the need for more collaboration between the NDDC and various US agencies. We are willing to partner with the various agencies because the Commission alone cannot meet the funding needs for the development of the Niger Delta.”
He stated that funding was a major challenge for the NDDC in delivering development projects in its mandate states, noting that the oil-producing areas could not afford any further neglect. He emphasized that the projects were necessary to ensure peace and security in the Niger Delta region.
The Executive Director said the need to re-activate the NDDC Advisory Committee to ensure that all stakeholders worked in harmony, stating that it would help in building synergy with the state governments to ensure impactful human and infrastructural development.
He said that a functional Advisory Committee would achieve a lot, especially in ensuring that the governors spoke with one voice in asking for the payment of all outstanding statutory obligations to the NDDC in order to fast-track development in the Niger Delta region.
Amadi remarked that the NDDC had initiated actions to recover all outstanding remittances from oil and gas companies in fulfillment of their statutory financial obligations to the Commission.
He told the US diplomats that the Commission had delivered several projects, totaling 9,855 across the region since its inception, saying that the projects included roads, bridges, hospitals and electricity.
Amadi, who noted that one of the outstanding projects was the 29-kilometre Ogbia Nembe Road, which was ready for commissioning, said: “We have invited President Muhammadu Buhari to commission the N24 billion road, which creates a land route to Nembe, and also opens up arable lands for economic activities in Bayelsa State.”