From UGOCHUKWU NWADIKE, Port Harcourt
THE Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC, USA, and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), have reached an agreement to build a strategic partnership for the development of the region.
Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, the Acting Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NDDC, disclosed this when she received a delegation from the US group, led by its Leader for Africa, Jennifer Cooke, at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt on Friday.
Saying that such partnership was critical, Semenitari, on Friday ordered the contractor handling the 4-storey Niger Delta Region Mother/Child Specialist Hospital to return to site without further delay.
While addressing the American delegation which included Uche Igwe and Charles Agu, Semenitari described the Niger Delta region as critical not only crucial to the economic and security well-being of Nigeria, but to the entire Gulf of Guinea.
She described the visit as timely and welcomed, saying the Commission was committed to working with partners. “We consider such partnership critical and are open to working with you”, the Ag. MD told the visitors.
Semenitari commended the Centre for its interest in the Niger Delta region and emphasised the need to sustain ongoing dialogue on strategies for the development of the area. She recalled that a similar meeting between the Commission and the Co-ordinator, Federal Amnesty Programme, held earlier, was to fashion out partnership details that would enhance the re-orientation of armed ex-agitators in the Niger Delta.
Leader of delegation, Ms. Cooke, had told the Ag. Managing Director that their visit was to seek partnership possibilities with the Commission as Niger Delta region remains a focal point of interest and concern for the American government. “In Washington we consider the Niger Delta region important to the safety and stability of Nigeria. Therefore, this visit is to seek partnership in your drive to develop the region”, Cooke said.
The Leader of the delegation, who noted that peace and development in the region was key to the stability of Nigeria and the entire African continent, commended the Commission for its strides towards the development of the region.
While inspecting the hospital project, Mrs. Semenitari directed immediate commencement of work. She commended the contractor for being on when the team visited but expressed displeasure over the slow pace of work. Semenitari in response to a request by the contractor for more fund, directed that a new work plan be submitted to her office by the contractor as a proof of commitment to continuing the project. “Submit your new work plan to my office as that is the only way you can convince me that if we give you more money, the work will continue”, she told the contractor. The Acting Managing Director asked for a shorter completion period than the 12 months considering its importance to maternal and child health in the region while not compromising standard.