…Development experts wait to see results on 30m locals
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to leverage shared aspirations and maximise development impact in Nigeria’s harried oil region. Both outfits would collaborate on diverse fronts in the delivery of sustainable development projects in the region, according to a statement signed by chief executives of the organisations.
At the NLNG’s corporate headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Philip Mshelbila, the managing director of NLNG, and Samuel Ogbuku of the NDDC sealed the pact, in which the two organisations agreed to collaborate and partner to empower communities in the Niger Delta region, promote local content and capacity development, and work with stakeholders along the value-chain to deliver sustainable development projects effectively.
Nigeria’s oil region, despite producing Nigeria’s hydrocarbon which accounts for over 85 percent of the country’s revenue, has been largely left unattended to by both governments at each level, and the oil companies. Local populations suffer from different degrees of deprivations from more than half-a-century of oil production business. Basic amenities like water, healthcare, roads, small and medium businesses are lacking, leaving the area with a huge unemployment rate, especially among the youths.
For example, nearly all the nine contiguous oil producing states rank among the subnationals with highest unemployment rates. Latest figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that, as of quarter four of 2022, Imo State has the highest unemployment rate of 48.7 percent, followed by Akwa Ibom and Rivers with 45.2% and 43.7%.
Mshelbila said through the partnership with NDDC, NLNG aspires to set a precedent for how such collaborations can drive positive change in the Niger Delta region. He said NLNG’s goal was to replicate the success of its projects and initiatives across the Niger Delta, working closely with NDDC to maximise the impact of collective efforts. He stated that the goal aligns with its vision of “helping to build a better Nigeria”.
“Today, we are proud to formalise our partnership with NDDC, an organisation empowered to deliver development projects in this vital region of our nation. At Nigeria LNG, our journey has always been guided by a commitment to seek strategic partners in sustainable development. This commitment is deeply rooted in our core values and principles, and it drives us to continuously explore innovative avenues to make a meaningful impact on the lives of those we serve. Our partnership with NDDC is evidence of this commitment, Mshelbila said.
By far, details of areas of collaboration were yet to be made known, despite yawning development gaps in the Niger Delta, where the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report in August 2011, expressed shock at how the people were still living in an area with over 900 percent benzene pollution.
But the NLNG MD said their dedication to the sustainable development of host communities in health, education, economic development, and infrastructural development remains unwavering.
“We understand that our success is linked to the well-being and prosperity of the communities in which we operate. Therefore, investing in projects and initiatives that empower these communities, promote social inclusion, and foster economic growth is an ethical responsibility. We believe that the highest standards of project execution and accountability are essential to achieving our sustainable development outcomes. We intend to share knowledge and build capacity with NDDC to make these outcomes feasible,” he said.
Ogbuku, the MD of NDDC, a federal government quango better known with corruption and phoney contracts, said the pact demonstrated unity towards sustainable development and progress in Nigeria. He noted that the MoU heralds a new era of collaboration for the betterment of the Niger Delta region and the nation.
“While the NDDC and NLNG each have unique missions, their common goals emphasise sustainable development, socio-economic empowerment, local content promotion, capacity building, and stakeholder collaboration. This alliance represents a pivotal moment in Nigeria’s journey towards progress and prosperity. It is a testament to the power of unified action in addressing the complex challenges faced by the Niger Delta region and the nation. The NDDC and NLNG are poised to create a more prosperous, inclusive, and sustainable future for Nigeria and its people,” he said.
Development experts are waiting to see the success/ results or otherwise of the two organisations’ collaboration, to the extent it would lift the majority of the 30 million people of the oil producing region.