The people’s champion! Nsima Ekere’s great exploits in NDCC

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The people’s champion! Nsima Ekere’s great exploits in NDCC

The people’s champion! Nsima Ekere’s great exploits in NDCC
June 29
09:43 2017

* How he  turned the Commission around in no time

In a coven of greedy merchants, it takes unprecedented restraint to scorn the lure of extreme commerce. Such marvelous trait depicts the soul of a selfless technocrat – an indisputable rarity in contemporary Nigeria. Nsima Ekere is however, cut of such rare stock.

The managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission flaunts a reputation for good judgment, for fair dealing and rectitude – which in itself is good fortune. Nsima, like the proverbial ethical rebel understands that  one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience. Where the majority plays rogue, Nsima opts to play the people’s champion. It is not very often you get to see such character emerge as a champion of the masses from the rich upper class. But he has effortlessly made a grand entrance into the pantheon of Nigeria’s 21st century crusaders.

Interestingly, however, even in the most wicked times, with the world a sprawling tableau of treachery, there are men who inspire confidence by their words or deeds. The appointment of Nsima Ekere, former Deputy Governor, Akwa Ibom State, as managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, was one of such confidence-boosting deeds.

An interventionist agency set up with the mission to facilitate the rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful, the NDDC, hitherto, had faltered perplexingly in the delivery of this mandate.

So much that in its 17 years existence, 8, 557 projects had been awarded, with 3, 424 projects completed and handed over to the beneficiary communities and states, 2, 257 are on-going while 2,506 have not even begun. The statistics are grim and cringe-worthy. Thus, when Ekere was appointed substantive MD last November, from the bowels of the creeks and cities that make up the oil-rich region emanated a rare combination of critical approval and public affection; love, even.

His arrival was akin to that of a rural pediatrician; eagerly anticipated to wrought magic. Thankfully, he understands the expectations of the harried people of the region and set about meeting them. And there was no question about his competence or character to deliver on the job.

That there would be a marked departure in the way the NDDC was going to operate under the new management became manifest early. Ekere introduced the robust and revolutionary 4-R strategy, which he described as “Reforming the governance systems to en­sure that as an organization they comply with extant rules and regulations and prevent mistakes of the past from re­curring; Restoring the core mandate of the commission by ensuring that they have a properly prepared set of mas­ter plans for the nine states and Reaffirming the commission’s commitment to doing what’s right and proper.”

According to him, weak organizational structure, procedures and processes were among the factors that limited the implementation of the NDDC mandate. “The 4-R strategy encapsulates the solution required to address the myriad challenges facing the NDDC. With about N1.2trillion of the contingent liabilities on its balance sheet, NDDC needs to find ways to free funds for urgent development projects and programmes. We will also recover excess bank charges, outstanding IOC contributions and reschedule payment of outstanding statutory contributions of the federal government.”

Every revolution needs an icon. For the NDDC to be alive to its responsibility and fulfil its mission, Ekere understood early that he had to do things differently, he had to be the beacon of change. Imbued with a strong sense of value and personal convictions, he caused to be created the Project Monitoring Information System, a dedicated portal where a breakdown of all contracts awarded, projects/programme status and locations, contractors’ information, project value and other information from inception to date are made available for the public to access.

The PMIS, which fosters engagement between all stakeholders in the value chain including stakeholders, has been described as revolutionary especially by those familiar with the opaque operations of the commission before now. A native of Ikot Oboroenyin, Edemaya Clan in Ikot Abasi Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Ekere had further disclosed that the proposed reforms will also affect how the commission prepare the budget to ensure they are able to deliver high impact social welfare pro­grammes that really touch the people and help change the present negative narra­tive.

Ekere’s ascendancy to the top is a great lesson for youths everywhere because it debunks and defangs so many of the prejudices and stereotypes that unfairly hold many back. He achieved success the old-fashioned way: he earned it. He worked hard and stayed humble. Ekere was born May 29, 1965. He started his secondary education at Regina Coeli College, Essene, Ikot Abasi, and completed same at Mary Knoll College Ogoja, Cross River State. He, thereafter, had a brief stint at The Polytechnic, Calabar (1981-82) before going on to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he bagged a degree in estate management. His political foray began when he won election into the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly during the General Sani Abacha Transition on the platform of the Grassroots’ Democratic Movement (GDM).

But he could not be inaugurated before Abacha died in June 1998 and that transition was truncated. He joined the People’s Democratic Party thereafter and was very active in its integration in Akwa Ibom State and beyond. He was appointed Executive Chairman of AKIIPOC, the investments and industrial promotions’ arm of the Akwa Ibom State Government, in 2008 and served simultaneously as Chairman of Ibom Power Company, the independent power generating company owned by the state government.

While the achievements at the NDDC might not be measurable now, he has woken the slumbering giant and kept it awake and on its toes to its wealth redistribution and other roles. For a region blotched over the years by militancy and kidnapping and other such crimes, Ekere believes that the NDDC has a team that is aligned in thoughts and determination to make a difference in the Niger Delta. “We must begin to do the right thing in the commission, no matter what it takes. Two things are likely to happen: it’s either we tame the beast or we get bitten by the beast. We hope to tame the beast, for the good of our people.”



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