…but stakeholders want road to touch Brass, an oil hub
Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) have jointly sponsored the construction of the Ogbia-Nembe Road, carved out of deep mangrove forest at the cost of N24 billion.
Bayelsa State government also contributed a counterpart fund of N3 billion to the road project in the tripartite partnership project.
The road provides for a smooth land access to Nembe, a deeply riverine oil-rich community covered in pristine mangrove forest.
For Governor Seriake Dickson, the new road is the kind of project that the NDDC should be embarking upon – opening up significantly inaccessible oil communities in the Niger Delta lacking in basic infrastructure, such as education and healthcare facilities.
He wants the road extended to touch Brass, a riverine community which is home to Nigeria’s multi-billion-dollar liquefied natural gas project – Brass LNG, still awaiting final take-off.
“Why can’t we have a similar partnership in constructing the next segment of the road from Nembe to Brass, an oil and gas hub. We are open to that conversation; and I will like the NDDC and other players to make serious commitments before the end of my administration in February next year,” said Dickson.
He said the NDDC should take up big projects. “I will like to see the NDDC take up big projects. We are battling to take a road to Ekeremor. We are battling to take a road to Oporoma and these are the big-ticket items which are the real infrastructural problems facing our people.”
He commended the NDDC acting managing director, Nelson Brambaifa, a professor, for driving development of the oil region.
Meanwhile, the Bayelsa governor, who leaves office next February, has called on the federal government to pay the NDDC the N1.9 trillion owed it through non-release of budgeted funds.
He said with such money the commission would be enabled to carry out its developmental responsibilities in the oil-rich region.
Dickson called for effective collaborative efforts with the federal government’s interventionist agency to design critical projects such as construction of roads and bridges that would accelerate development of the region.
I want greater collaboration in the design and execution of projects by the NDDC. Don’t just conveniently sit down, and be deciding and designing projects for our region and for state governors.
He decried what he called “politicisation of the NDDC,” calling for an immediate constitution of the Commission’s Advisory Council, to strengthen its processes; and enhance collaboration with key stakeholders in the region.
According to the governor, the NDDC has a great capacity for good works in the development of the Niger Delta region, and should be embarking on credible joint venture driven projects. “It is a good partnership,” he noted.
Brambaifa, the NDDC managing director, said there were a total of 1,043 projects in Bayelsa; adding that 379 of them were still on-going; while 185 others were to get off the ground.
Some of the projects are the construction of two Niger Delta regional Specialist Hospitals at Otuoke, one dedicated to Children and Maternity, while the other would be for orthopaedic cases.
Bayelsa is about the third largest earner of the 13 percent oil derivation revenue, after Akwa Ibom and Rivers states. Over the years, the state has often been locked in militancy-related clashes and conflicts emanating from its political leaders who fight for what they can get from the oozing crude oil incomes.
Development analysts believe that a functional advisory committee would achieve a lot, rather than many impressionistic projects often embarked upon by the commission which gets it into interest clashes with governors of the region.
Brambaifa is currently courting support from the governors to undertake a review of the commission’s Regional Development Master Plan to reflect the development vision of the various states into the development compass; and take ownership of the plan, using it as an instrument for integrated socio-economic development and regional economic union of the Niger Delta.