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By Etim Etim

It was raining heavily in PortHarcourt when I woke up early this morning, Thursday, March 11. I looked out my hotel window, and it was dark; the rain pounding the window. For a moment, I was anxious. We had a big event just four hours away – the commissioning of the new NDDC head office building by President Buhari. Will the rain mess up things, I thought to myself. I rushed through my morning routine and at 8am when I arrived Eastern Bypass, Marine Base, the commission’s new home, the deluge had stopped, and the day turned out to be a day of carnival and celebration. Various cultural and socio-cultural organizations were drumming, dancing and making merry.

It was the official many staff of the commission thought would not come. The project had been delayed for about 27 years by legal issues, financial problems and absence of executive spunk. The celebrations therefore stemmed from the long delay in completing the project – 26 years. The people just had to exhale.

At 10am prompt, the event commenced. Guests, resplendent in their best, were seated. Soon after, Mr Ray Ekpu, a doyen and one of the best in Nigeria’s journalism, arrived. I was relieved. I have been expecting him, and had been on phone with him all morning to guide him to the venue. The National Anthem played and prayer said, Mr Efiong Akwa, the Interim Administrator/Chief executive of NDDC, the chief host, rose to the podium to welcome his guests.

Brilliant, self-effacing and well spoken, he welcomed President Buhari and the august guests to the event, and traced the history of the building, whose foundation stone was laid in 1996 by OMPADEC. OMPADEC, we recall collapsed into NDDC when it founded in 2000. Akwa spoke with emotion in his voice and the cadence of a pastor which he is, unknown to many.

The chief executive noted that President Buhari took three important decisions that led to the completion and commissioning of the building: First was the reassignment of the supervision of NDDC to the Ministry of Niger Delta; second, the appointment of forensic auditors to review the activities of the commission and third was the policy direction for the completion of all abandoned projects.


Then there were goodwill messages from traditional chiefs, Niger Delta activists, senators, House of Reps members and Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, who spoke on behalf of the other eight governors of the NDDC states. I had expected Gov. Wike, the host governor, to play that role. But I guess politics kept him away. Wike was one of the six Niger Delta states that met earlier in the week in Asaba who later came up with illogical statements on NDDC. It was good that he stayed away.

Gov. Uzodinma thanked the President for completing the head office building and noted that the commission has been saved the N300 million yearly rent paid on the former head office on Aba Road. He also commended the President for setting up the forensic audit ‘’to look through the books of NDDC’’. He endorsed the appointment of the interim management to supervise the the forensic audit. ‘’With the commission’s new headquarters, NDDC is now expected to turn a new leaf in attitude, performance and general performance’’, he said.


With the governor seated, the MC introduced the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio. The MC conducted the event in a clock work fashion as there was no time to waste. The President was expected to speak at exactly noon. He had other engagements later in the day. The minister has worked hard to bring the project to completion, and a grateful Niger Delta people have acknowledged it considerably.

The Minister commended the President for supporting the completion of the project, and noted that the people will remember the Nigerian leader in history positively. He said that the East-West Road, long abandoned since 2006, will also be completed next year. The Minister then introduced the President who had all along joined the event through satellite hook-up from the State House, Abuja. President Buhari noted that the reforms in the NDDC which he authorized are to improve the agency’s capacity to deliver on its mandate.


His words: ‘’I commend the management and staff of NDDC for staying the course and keying into the reform agenda of our administration. I am particularly pleased to note the cordial relationship between the NDDC and the National Assembly and hope that this relationship will be strengthened further for the benefit of the people of the Niger Delta Region’’.

Speeches over, the guest came out to witness the cutting of the ribbon and the unveiling of the plaque by the Gov of Yobe State, Mr Mai Mai Buni, who came in his capacity as the acting chairman of APC.

Looking back, this was a very well organized and successful event. I must thank Pastor (Barr) Efiong Akwa, the Interim Administrator of NDDC for his hard work, high quality leadership and untiring commitment to excellence. I congratulate Senator Akpabio on a job well done, and do commend him for being a pride to our state.

The new head office certainly symbolizes a new beginning for the commission. We can only hope that NDDC will never fall below the standards it has set for itself by completing this building. From the founding Nigeria, Akwa Ibom people always excel in their national assignments: Ufot Ekaette, Etim Inyang, Dr. Clement Isong, Udom Inoyo and Vice Marshal Nsikak Eduok are just a few of our people who have served the country with sterling qualities and outstanding credentials and accomplishments. I am happy to note that Akpabio and Akwa are in the same league.


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