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After Years Of Delay, President Tinubu Inaugurates Key Ogbia-Nembe Road Project In Bayelsa

President Tinubu has lauded the partnership between the NDDC, Shell and Bayelsa state government to complete the Ogbia-Nembe Road.

As part of the activities to mark his administration’s one year in office, President Bola Tinubu on Sunday inaugurated the 25.735km Ogbia-Nembe road in Bayelsa, with seven bridges connecting 14 communities in the area.

The project was conceived and completed by the federal government through the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in collaboration with the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and other joint ventures partners.

However, it was almost stalled before the Bayelsa state government donated N3 billion  during the Senator Seriake Dickson administration.

The inauguration came as a big relief for the benefitting communities in the state that had been waiting for the completion of the road that was first initiated in 1940.

Work commenced in 2005 during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration when the then Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, initiated it.

The project was stalled during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who ironically was from the locality.

The benefitting communities include Ogbia, Emakalakala, Akipelai, Etiama, Nembe  Bassambiri and Ogbolomabiri, among others.

The president, represented by the Minister of NDDC, Abubakar Momoh, an engineer, at the opening,  expressed regret for being unable to attend due to international engagements.

Stressing the significance of the project, Tinubu stated: “This important road will alleviate many issues and hardships in the region by facilitating the free movement of goods and services. This is a project everyone would want to be associated with.

“The NDDC deserves a lot of commendation for this accomplishment. This demonstrates Mr. President’s commitment through the release of funds for the timely completion of the project.

“This project is a clear example of what good partnerships can achieve. I call on other international oil companies (IOCs) to follow suit. Chevron, for instance, has undertaken similar projects in the region, and I urge them to complement the NDDC’s efforts so that we can witness more success stories like this.”

He also acknowledged the role of the National Assembly in the project, noting that for the NDDC to initiate this project in partnership with Shell, the lawmakers must be commended for their support.

Regarding the call by Alaibe for the federal government to remove the NDDC from the single treasury account, the president said the government had moved beyond that because his office had directed the NDDC to capture all legacy projects in the nine states of the region.

He said in the 2024 budget, a special arrangement would be put in place to execute the region’s projects.

He thanked Shell for partnering with the NDDC, stressing that the huge project which gulped over N30 billion would have been difficult for any single entity to achieve alone.

“I encourage the IOCs and the governors of the nine states to collaborate with the NDDC to accomplish more. It is my honour and privilege to open this project,” Tinubu said.

In his opening remarks, the Managing Director of the NDDC, Dr Samuel Ogbuku, described the completion of the project as a significant milestone, particularly for the Ogbia and Nembe people.

He called on all stakeholders to cooperate with the commission in its efforts to develop the Niger Delta region.

Also, the Chairman of the NDDC Governing Board, Mr. Ehiedu Ebie, described it as a great day for the people of the Niger Delta.

“This impactful project underscores the potential for collaboration with SPDC and other IOCs such as Shell,” he said.

He also stressed the importance of continuity, noting that the project began during the tenure of Alaibe as the MD/CEO of the commission.

“As a board, we strengthened the public-private partnership department, and our efforts are coming to light,” Ebie stated

Also speaking, Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri described as unfair, deliberate efforts being made in some quarters to undermine the significant contributions of the state government towards the completion of the 25.7km road project.

Diri, represented by his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, stressed that no story about the project would be complete without a mention of the role the state government played.

He pointed out that it was necessary to correct the wrong impression that the state government did not contribute to the execution of the road project.

According to him, the Bayelsa State Government under Dickson disbursed N3 billion to the contractor, Setraco, in 2013 to restart the NDDC/Shell joint venture project after it was stalled for about six years due to funding challenges.

Diri, however, commended the NDDC, SPDC and their development partners for delivering on the project to open up the state.

He called on the NDDC, Shell and other well-meaning corporate giants to collaborate with his administration in completing the ongoing Akaba-Okodi Road, Nembe-Brass Road, Ekeremor-Agge Road, and the Opume-Okoroba Road among others.

Top-ranking senators, led by Senate Committee Chairman on Niger Delta, Senator Ekpenyong Asuquo, stressed the need for continuity in administration, citing Lagos State as an example of sustained development initiated by  Tinubu.

“If the NDDC continues from where they left off, they will lead the region and align with the 10th Senate. As you continue in the spirit of continuity, you will rise in the annals of time. I urge the IOCs to continue partnering with the NDDC to develop the region,” Asuquo said.

Olusegun Samuel

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