How to fix NDDC, By Tunji Light Ariyomo

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For a very long time, I have wondered about the impact of NDDC in its mandate area. It may as well be that I don’t have all the information, but listening to those who should, I am led to conclude that I have not been too far from the truth.

There is no doubt that the Niger Delta region requires a sustained special attention and special intervention from government. I do think it is the very nature and substance of such interventions that should be debated. Are there other models that hold better promise than what we currently have?

My suggestion
A better model for the NDDC may be for its Act to be ammended and for the commission to transform to a Fund (with bilateral financing capabilities) that can be accessed equitably by benefiting states and LGA as project owners but with strict central monitoring, evaluation and milestone assessment guidelines like the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund). That is, for NDDC to transform to NDDF (Niger Delta Development Fund). That way, the primary role of the agency would not be to execute or implement projects but to serve as a fund warehouse, a quasi regional development bank with direct or bilateral intervention capacities whose activities can be objectively measured against specific quantifiable milestones.

In the example of TETFund, development projects are usually executed through owner institutions with project funding and financing tied to attainment of specific project milestones. Each institution in Nigeria for instance has what is called ‘annual normal intervention’ for which there is no need to lobby.

Warts and all, there is no iota of doubt that the highest numbers of completed development projects in our higher institutions today were built through TETFund intervention.

This is not going to eliminate corruption. No. But it might ensure that a huge chunk of what is normally stolen could escape into actual project funding with unambiguous responsibility matrix, thus leaving only the margins for vicious reckless looting. You can imagine that the N700m that current NDDC would normally spend on social enlightenment would build mini-grid solar plants of circa 40kWh capacity in about 14 most deprived communities in the NIger Delta. If my office has access to such funds, we can electrify 35 communities (grid-tied) with 35 brand new substations. The options are endless.

The current NDDC model is everybody’s job. Everybody’s job is nobody’s job. In the model I just suggested, a state government or an LGA would become culpable in the mismanagement of such funds – and the people can easily point fingers!

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