Breaking News

HOW IBIM SEMENITARI TOOK NDDC BACK TO THE COMMUNITIES PART 1

HOW IBIM SEMENITARI TOOK NDDC BACK TO THE COMMUNITIES PART
 1


Mrs Ibim Semenitari is a Rivers woman and a devoted Christian whose 20-year marriage to Mr Henry Semenitari is blessed with four lovely children.
 Having cut a niche for herself in private service, she has had a rich career in journalism spanning 20 years with concentration in investigative journalism and has worked as an editor and publisher for some top brands in Nigeria and abroad.


As a journalist, she became the first female journalist to win the CNN African Journalist Award. In 1997, she became the first runner-up in the CNN African Journalist of the year Award for her outstanding investigative journalism for print media. She won the Nigerian Media Merit Award (NMMA) and has also won the Diamond Award for Media Excellence (DAME) three times. She has worked with the BBC as a Journalism trainer/Editor with the BBC World Service Trust.

READY SET GO!!!
On the 18th of December 2015, the announcement came that President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Mrs Ibim Semenitari as Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC replacing the Dan Abia led management team.
The announcement came with mixed reactions. On one side was the argument the following the rotational leadership arrangement in the Commission, the appointment should have come from Akwa Ibom State. On the other hand, some background voices, apparently influenced by sexist orientations held that owing to the volatility of the region, the office of the NDDC boss would be too big for her to handle. However, those who knew her pedigree, zeal and longstanding activism for the development of the Niger Delta couldn’t be more convinced that her appointment was a confluence of passion and opportunity.
Mrs Semenitari knew she didn’t have the luxury of time to expend on analysing public reactions so she hit the road running, rolling up her sleeves and getting down to the business of making a difference for the communities of the region.
Appointed as an interim executive and saddled with the political and environmental pressure to dramatize the CHANGE mantra of her party, the All Progressives Congress, as well as the expectations of those who have known her Niger Delta activism, the accomplished wordsmith couldn’t afford a stretched learning curve. She just had to resume work and begin work! And this she did to the admiration of all.


FROM HAROLD DAPPA BIRIYE HOUSE TO THE COMMUNITIES

If there is one word that has featured prominently in her official interactions and communications, it would be ‘community’. The Acting MD understands well that the NDDC was not created for anything other than the communities of the Niger Delta, little wonder she talks about wealth creation in the communities with a rock solid resolve.
Mrs Semenitari has left no one in doubt of her commitment to return the NDDC to the communities for which it was created as she continues to exchange the cosiness of her big office in Port Harcourt for precarious journeys through towns, villages, rivers, creeks and forest across the nine states covered by the NDDC Act to interact with governments, community leaders and contractors with a view to finding first-hand information on development needs of communities the true state of  ongoing projects for which huge sums are being committed to.
As she traverses ‘bush and creeks’, the enormity of the NDDC burden as well as its importance to the impoverished and neglected communities becomes even clearer. In a recent interview she captured her experiences succinctly :
“In some communities, the NDDC is the only government that they know. I was in a community they said that for seven years they had not witnessed anything from any government, local state or federal apart from the NDDC” she observed.  The outgoing NDDC boss believes the communities have a part to play in ensuring that the commission lives up to its core mandate. On several fora, she has repeatedly said she hopes to see that “communities are more aware and more ready to demand service, probity, action and development from government.”
Mrs Semenitari’s travel around the 9 NDDC states has a three pronged benefit. First it pumped energy into the state offices, helping to refocus the staff for service delivery. Second it afforded the commission the opportunity to meet with contactors at the contract site so as to appreciate the challenges faced by the contractors and also take action against erring contractors. She believes that a productive NDDC would require a committed cream of staff and contractors who are passionate about the region and committed to the communities. Little wonder she celebrated the completion and opening of the ultra-modern Rivers state office in Port Harcourt. At Delta State, the AMD was shocked to find that the contractor handling the set of hostels being built by the commission for the Delta State University had abandoned the project and the entire project had been overgrown with weeds. In Bayelsa State, the all-important Ogbia-Nembe road project had been brought to a halt after armed men attacked the site killing two soldiers and taking away expatriate workers. Mrs Semenitari quickly moved into action, meeting with Governor Seriake Dickson, traditional rulers and the Ijaw Youth Congress to find a way to rescue the abducted workers and return to site. Today, tat road has been completed and is ready for commissioning. Finally, the journey through the communities worked like a magic wand in the repair of the corporate image of the Commission that had not only alienated itself from its core mandate and was been battered by inefficiency and corruption.
Madam with Gov Ben Ayade of Cross Rivers State 

“As I went from Government House to Government House, it was clear that there was some weariness, some lethargy. Governors were saying to me, ‘oh NDDC, we have given up on you.’ But now I think everyone is infected by this new passion arising from staff and contractors, that want to do things differently.”
Even though the CEO of this interventionist agency likes to leave assessments to the public it is clear that with six months of being on the saddle, her objective of repositioning staff and contractors to deliver quality service to the oil producing communities has been largely met even in the face of the current economic situation which is made worse by the fact that she operated an almost exhausted budget.

Madam inspecting Ohafia-Calabar Road

Madam Inspecting a road project

Inspection of ITU road with members of Nigerian Senate



Excerpt Culled from feelrivers.com