Early morning this Saturday, workmen were already cleaning up and putting finishing touches to the new head office building of NDDC located on Eastern Bypass, Marine Base, not far from LNG Headquarters, Portharcourt. They’ve been working every day to get the place ready for the official commissioning on Thursday, March 11.
The Plaque to be unveiled by President Buhari had been emblazoned on the front façade. It is a huge edifice in the true sense of the word, sprawling over 5 acres and standing 13 floors tall.
Beautiful and magnificent, the plaza provides a comfortable environment to the workers and the hundreds of visitors that troop in for business every day. It saves the commission the N300 million paid yearly as rent on the former head office on Aba Road.
But more poignantly, the building speaks to the determination of the Buhari administration to develop the Niger Delta region.
I must commend the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, members of the defunct interim management committee and the current Interim Administrator/CEO, Mr. Effiong Akwa, for a job well done. Akpabio’s passion and determination is the critical success factor in completing this building which started over 20 years ago.
It was the Minister who gave the then IMC, headed by Prof Pondei, marching orders to move into the building even before the lifts were functional. The idea was to get the management to be on ground for effective supervision of the project.
‘’Prof Pondei and the other IMC members were going up and down the stairs every day; up to the 12th floor every day’’, said a senior official who conducted me around this morning. It reminds me of an experience in my banking career.
In 2004, I was appointed a branch manager and posted to Allen Avenue branch, Ikeja, which was just about 70% complete. I was given a marching order to ‘’report at your branch and start working from there. You are to supervise the contractor, ensure quick completion of the branch and at the same time, start marketing and bring in the customers’’. It worked.
Like all massive projects, the NDDC House, as the building perhaps is called, has been fraught with so many setbacks and challenges, including internal sabotage. Just this week, someone pilfered the sensor from the lifts, perhaps to sabotage the upcoming event. But the Interim Administrator quickly rose to the occasion. I understand that there are some persons who are not happy that Senator Akpabio is taking credit for this.
The Thursday event will be low key, with the President participating virtually from the State House, in accordance with COVID-19 protocol. The guest list is very short, as I understand. But to the glory of God, it will be a great day for the people of this blessed region.