NDDC Signs $15bn MoU With Atlanta Global Resources To Build Mega Rail Line In Niger Delta
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has signed an MoU worth over $15 billion with Atlanta Global Resources to build a mega rail line to connect the nine states that make up NDDC. The line will ease the infrastructure deficit in the Niger Delta, which is rich in oil.
NDDC Managing Director, Chief Samuel Ogbuku, called the deal history in the making and the first harvest of the PPP approach. The two parties signed the MoU in Lagos at a one-day NDDC PPP 2023 Summit.
The summit’s theme was “Rewind to Rebirth: Building a Sustainable Future through Public Private Partnership for Progress in the Niger Delta”.
Other dignitaries who spoke at the occasion included Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Okon Umana; CEO of Atlanta Global Resources Inc, Tony Ekpele; and Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Simbi Wabote.
Umana said he started the process of resetting and repositioning NDDC immediately President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as Niger Delta Affairs minister.
He declared that he inherited a messy situation at NDDC and received over 1,000 messages about pending payments for contracts.
After understanding the things that went wrong in the commission, Umana said he gave a commitment to the president and stakeholders that he would change the story of the interventionist agency.
The minister said the ministry and the commission were now on the right track towards achieving badly needed development and progress in the Niger Delta.
Recounting how past leaderships of NDDC allowed politics to come in the way of the commission’s mandates in projects, Umana warned the new managing director of the commission to perish any possible political ambition while in office.
He said: “Before I make my speech, I would like to briefly comment on some issues. I had visited a state and when we met with the governor, the governor said that not one kilometre of road had been done by NDDC in his state. I was shocked, it was an extreme position.
“Yes, NDDC has not done as well as expected. But when a governor comes out openly and is saying that not one kilometre of road had been done, I also felt it was a problem, and when I inquired further, I discovered that a former MD of NDDC had been his opponent in an election for governorship and, therefore, he could never see NDDC as a partner that he could collaborate with.
“He saw NDDC as a competitor. So he had to play down on the achievements of NDDC. So the message we are also taking away is, I hope the new MD, you are not planning for governorship? Because we don’t need this kind of disruption again in this commission.
“We need professionals, who will be committed to the job of running the NDDC, not people who will come and after one year, two years, they are planning to run for governorship. I know this MD will be different and I know this board will be different.”
Umana warned the new leadership of NDDC to avoid the practice of the commission siting projects and executing them in the states without the knowledge and collaboration of the authorities in those states.
According to him, the partnership with stakeholders, the oil companies, is also extended to state governments.
Umana said he was excited to be part of the important summit initiated by NDDC. He said the initiative was in line with the emphasis of government to harness the expertise and energies of all stakeholders and partners in the drive to develop Niger Delta.
He said government was totally in support of such initiatives conducted within the framework of due process and best practices in public governance.
The CEO of Atlanta Global Resources Inc, Tony Ekpele, also spoke at the summit and affirmed the company’s commitment to the mega rail line project.
He said that Atlanta Global Resources Inc was partnering with NDDC to provide funds for the commission to construct, operate, and manage the rail line.
Ekpele added: “We commit ourselves to ensure that we do all we can to deliver this project.”
The NDDC Managing Director, Chief Samuel Ogbuku, expressed his excitement about the signing of the MoU, calling it “history in the making” and the “first harvest of the PPP approach.”