To achieve effective performance of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) President Muhammadu Buhari has mandated the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to carry out a comprehensive audit of its staffing.

Buhari, who gave the mandate on Thursday, during the opening ceremony of a two-day Management Retreat, organised by Ministry of the Niger Delta Affairs at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, explained this became necessary to ensure that right staffing and proper placements are achieved.

The President, who was represented at the event by Minister of Transportation, Muazu Jaji Sambo, also appealed to the people of the oil-rich Niger Delta to exercise restraint and allow a conducive atmosphere for implementation of the several government developmental projects and Programmes initiated for the area.

While noting the significance of the retreat which, he said could not have come at a better time, especially, post Forensic Audit of the NDDC, Buhari said concerted efforts are on by the authorities to reposition the Commission for better service delivery in accordance with the provisions of the Public Service Rules, the Financial Regulations and the Public Procurement Act.

Continuing, President said the Strategic Implementation Work Plan (SIWP), a framework that focuses on the objectives raised in the Federal Government’s 20-point Agenda and the Pan Niger Delta Forum’s (PANDEF) 16-point agenda will be strengthened to provide the framework for coordination of development initiatives in the Niger Delta region to achieve maximum impact, especially at this critical time.

“Undoubtedly, the Federal Government has made huge commitments to the Niger Delta Region in furtherance with its desire to give the people a new lease of life.

“This administration has been proactive in response to issues of the Region, we are adopting and implementing more prudent policies and programmes that will bring about a better Niger Delta Region.

“It is gladdening to note that, the Ministry has prioritised the repositioning of the NDDC to ensure they deliver on their objectives and mandate.

“This is evidenced by its efforts that led to the completion and commissioning of the Commission’s Headquarter Building Complex in March, 2021, providing the Commission with a conducive base to operate.

“In pursuance of our determination to curb corruption and in response to the call of the Governors of South-South for a Forensic Audit of NDDC, I undertook some critical reforms and requested a Forensic Audit of NDDC from inception to 2019.

“The Report of the audit has been submitted and implementation of its recommendations has commenced in phases. This process will soon usher in a new Management and Board for the Commission.

“I am pleased to note that the Ministry has prioritised the implementation of the Harmonisation of all Developmental Plans of all Agencies and Development Partners operating in the Niger Delta Region into a Single Integrated Regional Development Plan, as a roadmap to accelerated development of the Region.

” Work is already at an advanced stage toward its completion. I urge the Ministry to fast-track the completion of this harmonisation in order to provide a good strategy on which to function in the course of the development of the region.

“These efforts are geared towards repositioning the Commission for optimal performance in the provision of the needed Infrastructural and Socio-Economic development for the people of the Niger Delta Region.

“Accordingly, I urge all well- meaning Nigerians, especially the Niger Deltans, to exercise restraint and ensure a conducive and secured environment for implementation of the several developmental Projects and Programmes in the Region,” he said.

Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Okon Umana assured of the ministry’s readiness to utilize the remaining few months left in the life of the administration to impact and facilitate concrete development of the Niger Delta area.

The Minister also called on stakeholders in the region to extend hand of fellowship and partner with the government with a view to consolidating on the gains so far achieved to improve the living standard of the People of the Region.

“There is an urgent need to constantly adapt to new strategies to help President Muhammadu Buhari reposition the Niger Delta Development Commission to achieve the desired objectives of his administration for the Region. This entails shifting our approaches; modifying our institutions and systems to deliver better infrastructural and socio-economic development for the good people of the Niger Delta Region,” he said.

The Minister said the forum is will take major decisions towards effective collaboration to derive value for money in the developmental initiatives by all the Stakeholders in the Region.

The expanded retreat had the Governors of Oil Producing States, Chairmen of the relevant Committees of both the Senate and House of Representatives, Oil Companies, Ministries, Departments and Agencies in attendance.