NDDC: Providing infrastructure for SME growth, job creation

Samuel Ogbuku

For the indigenes of Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State, Wednesday, May 22, 2024 is a day that will be too difficult to forget. Even if they do, as it is essentially easy for humans to forget but hard to remember, the constant electricity they enjoy going forward, after 10 years of darkness will always be available to remind them.
Likewise the natives of Ogbia-Nembe communities in Bayelsa State, May 2024 shall remain evergreen in their memories.

Beginning with the people of Okitipupa Local Government, it was on the aforementioned date that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu commissioned the multi-billion naira 132KV Transmission Line and I32KV/33KV electricity substation project executed by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) at Ode-Erinje.

At the commissioning ceremony, President Tinubu, who was represented by the Minister for Niger Delta Development, Engr. Abubakar Momoh, said that the project demonstrated the determination of the Federal Government to develop the Niger Delta, noting that the government was placing priority on electricity as one of the sure ways of boosting industrialisation in the country. The project provided for the construction of 45km double circuit 33KV Feeder lines from Omotosho Power Station (Hook-up point) to Okitipupa and two 30MVA, 132/33KV injection substations with breakers, gantry and substation automations.
The project, which also provided for the construction of 3-bedroom semi-detached bungalow as service quarters, is reportedly aimed at complementing the Federal Government’s effort in the power sector by improving power supply to Okitipupa, Igbokoda and other neighbouring communities in Ondo South Senatorial District to boost operations of small and medium scale industries, job creation and consequently endanger growth and development of Ondo State.

Interestingly too, before the ‘dust of excitement’ raised by this ‘unusual breakthrough’ could settle, another one was up. This time around in Bayelsa State, where President Tinubu on Saturday May 24, 2024, commissioned the 25.735 km Ogbia-Emakalakala-Akipelai-Etiama-Nembe road, including seven bridges, that connects 14 communities of Ogbia, Emakalakala, Akipelai, Etiama, Nembe, Bassambiri, Ogbolomabiri and others. The roadwas constructed by NDDC in partnership with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

Mr. President who was represented by the Minister of Niger Delta Development, stressed the significance of the project: “This important road will alleviate many issues and hardships in the region by facilitating the free movement of goods and services. This is a project everyone would want to be associated with. The NDDC deserves a lot of commendation for this accomplishment. This demonstrates Mr. President’s commitment through the release of funds.”
Specifically, while the commissioning of these laudable projects in Ondo, Bayelsa among others, and the excitement it elicited may have died down, the event left two important observations behind; first, NDDC’s governing board and management as presently constituted is living up to the agency’s motto ‘Making A Difference In The Niger Delta’. Secondly, the agency is under the right leadership and is being managed in line with President Tinubu’s renewed hope agenda targeted at turning the Niger Delta to a region of peace and development.

The reason for the above assertion is predicated on the global understanding that infrastructural provision is the bedrock of development.Beginning with global reasoning on infrastructural development, it is widely believed that development is an inalienable human right in which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development.

Take as an illustration, it is obvious that international law does not specifically acknowledge access to electricity as a human right, but the United Nations and other international organizations recognise access to electricity as one of the keys needed to enhance human welfare and achieve sustainable development.
Again, analysts believe that infrastructure such as roads, rail and electricity are crucial in the provision of services that underpin the ability of people to be economically productive. For instance, the World Bank estimates that in Sub-Saharan Africa, closing the infrastructure quantity and quality gap relative to the world’s best performers could raise GDP growth per head by 2.6 per cent annually.

Infrastructure investments help stem economic losses arising from problems such as poor electricity supply or traffic congestion. Experts also believe that energy, for instance, is tightly linked to economic development while higher levels of GDP are more correlated with greater electricity use, access, reliability and affordability.

In the same span, testimonies from various beneficiaries of NDDC’s initiatives also indicate that it is not only in infrastructural provision that the commission’s board and management have demonstrated excellence in public leadership, winning confidence of the people, particularly in the Niger Delta region. According to reports, the transformative projects of the present board and management are also bringing to the region significant benefits, including job opportunities, new investments, better healthcare, socio-economic development, boost in economic activities and improvement on the quality of life of the people of the Niger Delta.
Viewed broadly, from the above cheerful commentaries from NDDC’s investment in infrastructure and other initiatives such as the Holistic Opportunities, Projects and Engagement (HOPE), which is positioned to provide a platform to empower youths in the region on a sustainable basis, it is certain that the message the commission’s handler is sending to the people of the region and the nation in general is that of a bunch that is willing to take every legitimate action to accommodate the youths in the region, assist them acquire skills in different areas needed to fill vacancies in fields they have been skillfully equipped.

As we know, employment creates an environment for stability, which in turn enhances the confidence that protects the very investments that are necessary for the development of national asserts.

NDDC has gotten a board with the understanding that it is its duty to serve the communities and embrace its aspirations, both now and in the future, by assuring the people of economic growth, improvement in education, health and security services as well as boosting comfort and leisure opportunities in ways that will allow for the most conducive atmosphere to achieve the targets that will guarantee the welfare and a bright future for the people.
Utomi is the Programme Coordinator, Media and Policy, Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374.

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