The Ondo state government and the Niger Delta Development Commission, yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the neglected Araromi-Akodo-Lekki road.
The MOU, which aims at building the road for the purpose of opening up the project for integrated economic development, was signed on behalf of the state government by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Ifedayo Abegunde, while the NDDC Managing Director, Mr.Nsima Ekere, signed on behalf of the commission.
Speaking before the signing of the MoU, which held inside the Cocoa Conference Hall at the Governor’s Office, Alagbaka, Akure, the state governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, lamented the condition of the residents of the southern senatorial district of the state.
Akeredolu, who was particularly delighted over the signing of the MoU, expressed optimism that the Araromi-Akodo-Lekki road would be delivered before the expiration of the tenure of the Chairman of the NDDC Board, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba.
According to the governor, the courtesy visit by the NDDC Board led by Ndoma-Egba was impactful because it would afford the commission to have adequate knowledge of the gloomy condition of the people of the Niger Delta area of the state.
Akeredolu, however, expressed concern that the southern senatorial district of the state had been neglected for years in spite of the fact the treasures of the state were hidden in the area.
He said: “The people of the Southern Senatorial District have been in total darkness for over four years and this ought not to be so.”
While using the occasion to renew his promise to spread development to all the three senatorial districts of the state, the governor hailed the NDDC for showing interest in partnering with his administration to provide good governance to the people.
He also commended the commission for remobilising contractors to all the abandoned projects in the Niger Delta communities in the state.
Akredolu named such abandoned projects to include Ugbo-Ogboye Road, Igbokoda-Igbekebo Road, Irele-Igbotu Road and Agadgba bridge.
The governor also tasked the NDDC to support efforts aimed at developing agriculture in the state.
Speaking earlier, Ndoma-Egba said the commission had decided to review all the NDDC’s projects in Ondo State to ensure impactful projects delivery.
He said of the NDDC’s 785 projects in Ondo State, 381 are ongoing; 266 had been neglected; 96 were either stalled or abandoned and 42 had been awarded, but contractors had yet to return to sites.
Ndoma-Egba thefore said the commission would focus on projects that would truly integrate the Niger Delta region.
He added that the commission would execute projects based on impacts and the needs of the people, while adding that governors of the Niger Delta states were required to play advisory roles.
According to him, contractors working at Omotosho power project will be paid next week.
Ndoma-Egba reminded that governors that the law settling up the NDDC envisaged that the commission should be a development partner.
As a result of this, the chairman of the NDDC board said a new Niger Delta Development master plan would be designed to facilitate integrated development of the Niger Delta area.
He said: “We want to set a frame-work for a new Niger Delta Development. We have to start a new partnership with Ondo State; the challenge is to exploit the potential available in the state for impactful development.”
Ndoma-Egba added that the commission was contemplating setting up a Niger Delta Development Bank for effective economic development of the region.
The State Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, who spoke with reporters shortly after the event said the project would support the economic development to the people of the area and the state in general.
Ajayi, who had represented the Ilaje-Ese federal constituency at the House of Representatives, noted that the state was the most peaceful Niger-Delta state, assuring of the cooperation of people of the area when the project commences.