The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States Consulate and a United States-based firm, Atlanta Global Resources Inc., AGRI, to build a railway network that will connect the nine states of the Niger Delta region.
The ceremony, which was a part of the one-day Public Private Partnerships Summit organized by the Commission in Lagos on Tuesday, will provide locomotives, construct railway lines and operate same in the oil producing states of Rivers, Ondo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Imo and Abia.
The MOU was signed by the managing director/CEO of the NDDC, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, on behalf of the Commission, Mr. Chamberlain Eke, on behalf of the United States Consulate, and Mr. Tony Akpele, on behalf of AGRI.
Work on the preliminary stages of the project, perhaps the biggest in the history of the Commission, is expected to start immediately.
Speaking at the summit, Dr. Ogbuku disclosed that the NDDC was determined to renavigate the process of its intervention in the Niger Delta so that it can achieve its mandate “of facilitating the rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful.”
He stated that the MOU represented a big harvest for the NDDC from the PPP Summit.
In his goodwill message at the summit, former NDDC Managing Director, Chief Timi Alaibe, expressed delight at the PPP initiative taken by the new leadership of the Commission.
He said: “This is the first time in 15 years that I am attending an NDDC function. This is because the new board is charting a new course that is impressive.”
He added: “Far back, after the implementation of the Master Plan, we decided on an implementation plan which involved all key stakeholders. We decided that the Master Plan cannot be funded by the government alone. We needed the private sector, that is why I support holding the summit in Lagos, Nigeria’s financial capital. The concept of rewinding and rebirth is sweet to the ears.”
Also speaking during the summit, the former Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, commended the NDDC for admitting that it had suffered from goal displacement.
He said: “The NDDC Management and the Board have shown courage by putting the Summit together. The NDDC has our prayers and support. What is missing is not the ideas, but the courage.”
In another goodwill message, the former Managing Director of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, applauded the NDDC Board and Management for striving to leave legacies in the region.
According to him, “the founding fathers of the NDDC intended that the NDDC should be a catalyst for development. The PPP arrangement is a new way of getting good results. There must be a fusion between the private sector and the public sector. It is important to bring in the resources and expertise of the private sector.”