The Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND), in collaboration with DFID-Market Development for the Niger Delta (MADE) and USAID-Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement (SACE) Project, is set to hold the sixth edition of the invitation-only Niger Delta Development Forum (NDDF) in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, November 14-15, 2017, with the theme ‘The Future in Our Hands: A State-Led Framework for Planning and Development in the Niger Delta’.
The sixth edition of NDDF follows on from the recommendations of the 2016 forum, which called for a bottom-up approach to regional development and governance alongside a strong emphasis on State government to develop a strong framework for strategic planning for development, competitiveness and inclusive growth. This framework should depend on shared opportunities and inclusive growth that materially improves the livelihoods of the people and institutions [of the Niger Delta], while the role of regional intervention bodies should focus on how to consolidate the work of member states, instead of duplicating their efforts.
Over the past decade, Nigeria has witnessed numerous plans or programmes at regional and state level that have achieved varying degrees of success. At the regional level, the Niger Delta Action Plan, commissioned by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to address the challenges in the region, and the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan championed by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was adopted in 2006 as a robust package of policies and strategies for the development of the region.
In the Niger Delta, it is clear that most states in the region have not paid sufficient attention to planning (short and long terms). As such, activities and projects are, in many cases, embarked upon in reaction to current events without recourse to a systematic approach that will bring about sustained planned outcomes. In addition, successive state governments have very little culture of continuity, which leaves many projects uncompleted and unrelated. Without articulate state plans (short, medium and long terms), it is difficult to tie state programs into regional, national and international development plan frameworks, and coordinate policy across different areas for improved economic development outcomes.
“The recession — for good or ill — has given the region an opportunity to think beyond oil. We must now critically assess the sectors that can drive growth, increase the tax base for resource mobilization and contribute to a truly diversified, robust economy, and none of this will be possible without planning,” says Dr. Dara Akala, PIND’s Executive Director.
“From our experience of partnering with government at federal and state levels, PIND and partners strongly believe that Niger Delta states can learn from each other’s experiences to improve their processes and economic performance. NDDF will be a perfect way of bringing the states together, as well as public and private stakeholders within the states, show each state what they can do for each other, and come away with a plan for short, medium and long-term development that is benefits both individual states and the region as a whole.”
NDDF is an annual forum for multi-stakeholder conversations on economic development and policy in the Niger Delta. Held in a different Niger Delta city every year, has become a go-to platform for meaningful development discourse, mobilizing interest for Niger Delta development and stimulating investments in agriculture and small businesses development in the region.