WELCOME ADDRESS BY MRS. DIDI WALSON-JACK, mni, PERMANENT SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF NIGER DELTA AFFAIRS. ON THE OCCASION OF ASSUMPTION OF OFFICE BY HIS EXCELLENCY, CHIEF (SENATOR) GODSWILL OBOT AKPABIO, CON, HONOURABLE MINISTER AND MR. FESTUS KEYAMO, ESQ, SAN, HONOURABLE MINISTER OF STATE, MINISTRY OF NIGER DELTA AFFAIRS, ON WEDNESDAY, 21ST AUGUST 2019.
On behalf of the Directors and Staff of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, it is my utmost pleasure to formally welcome you (the Honourable Minister and Honourable Minister of State) to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs; your new place of assignment in continuation of your service to the nation.
2. Let me also warmly congratulate you on the deserving and meritorious appointment as Ministers by His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is indeed a testimony to the Administration’s confidence in your abilities and capacity to contribute your quota towards putting Nigeria back on the path to greatness. Your deployment to the MNDA is a call to duty borne out of your pedigree and commitment to duty, and the interest of Mr. President in deploying the best hands to bring the much- needed development to the Niger Delta Region.
3. The Management and Staff of the Ministry are excited about your coming to the Ministry at this auspicious time. The reason is that your track records portend renewed vigour and development for the Niger Delta Region now more than ever before.
4. Hon. Ministers, it may interest you to know that I assumed duty in this Ministry as Permanent Secretary less than a month ago, precisely on the 1st of August 2019. The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is like a home to me; this is my third tour of duty having at various times served as Assistant Director, State Coordinator, Deputy Director, and Director.
5. In a role that could be likened to that of John the Baptist who was a forerunner to Jesus Christ, we have diligently prepared the ground for your coming to take charge.
6. The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, of which you are now at the helm of affairs, was established on Monday, 10th September 2008, by His Excellency, President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua (of blessed memory); but commenced work in 2009. The Ministry was a federal government’s direct response to address and tackle the development challenges in the region, particularly in the areas of infrastructure development, environmental degradation, unemployment, security stabilization, and coordination of development policy for the delivery of coherent development results. It was created as the first and only Ministry in the country to address and surmount these developmental challenges in and for a Region.
7. It is the Vision of the Federal Government that the MNDA serves as the primary vehicle for the execution of Government's plans and programmes for rapid socio-economic development of the Niger Delta Region. Against this background, the Ministry has the Mandate to initiate, promote, manage, coordinate and execute development plans, policies, programmes that will accelerate the desired development in the Niger Delta region.
8. To this end, the MNDA has been executing its Mission of formulating and implementing plans, programmes and other initiatives, as well as coordinating the intervention activities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal and State Governments, Communities, Donors and other relevant Stakeholders involved in the development of the Region.
9. Since its inception, the Ministry has been blessed with the leadership of many Ministers and Ministers of State. They have laid the foundation for work and development on which you could build. As the Scripture tells us, some sow, others water and nurture, but it is the Lord that gives the increase.
10. To achieve the Vision, Mission and Mandate, the Ministry will need to galvanize massive financial, material and human resources, through partnerships collaborations, leverage on Corporate Social Responsibility, and Public-Private Partnerships. We have to work with Federal, States & Local Governments and their Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the Private Sector, Development Partners, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and International Aid Agencies. Your wealth of experience would be an advantage to achieving these objectives not only for the Region but for the country at large. To succeed the leadership, management and staff would need to work as a Team.
11. Hon Ministers, available for service are 1,061 staff spread across 13 Departments, 5 Units and 9 State Offices. The Ministry is on the right pedestal to enable it co-ordinate the activities of all stakeholders, in the public and private sectors for the benefit of the people of the nine (9) Oil producing States of the Niger Delta Region, namely Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers States and Nigeria. We have Civil Servants of all categories and cadres, including bureaucrats, technocrats, and professionals, to get the work done. The common denominator is our passion and commitment to be a part of the story of the change of the Niger Delta for the better.
12. In the weeks ahead, there would be various briefings, which will afford you an overview of and provide a detailed operational platform of the Ministry. We also propose a Retreat, in due course, in order to enable you interface with top management in setting your policy agenda for the Ministry.
13. As the Political Heads of the Ministry, the direction of the Ministry rest on you and we have no doubt in our minds that with both of you providing the requisite political leadership, the narrative about the Niger Delta Region will change for the better. Let me put on record that we consider ourselves privileged and honoured, at this time in the history of our Nation, to work with two great Nigerians, for whom we have great admiration. We look forward to tapping from your rich antecedents as we deliver on our mandate together.
14. Hon. Ministers, let me assure you that the Staff of the Ministry are non-partisan seasoned civil servants determine to ensure your success. Our duty is to provide the expertise and the administrative framework, as the engine room and to support your leadership and the Federal Government to turn things around for the people of the Niger Delta Region. We are part of the Team our President, Muhammed Buhari talked about at the Retreat for Ministers-designate, Permanent Secretaries and other top political leaders. I assure you that we will work to uphold the wisdom, excellence and good reputation of the Public Service, as well as always promoting the principles of good governance.
15. I also pledge our commitment to the actualization of the vision and mandate of the Ministry. We would be an effective and efficient workforce; working with you to strategize on the formulation and execution of the best policies, programmes and projects that would address the challenges in the Niger Delta Region. These include, but not limited to infrastructural developmental, environmental degradation, poverty alleviation, entrepreneurship, job creation, unemployment, and security, among others.
16. Finally, we commit to going the extra mile to working cordially and harmoniously with you; such that the symphony of development in the Niger Delta Region will remember your invaluable contributions for many years to come. It is our prayer that you would not just pass through this Ministry, but that you would leave indelible footprints and a legacy of uncommon development in the Niger Delta Region.
17. Once again, I welcome both of you, the Hon. Minister and Hon. Minister of State, to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, and wish you a very successful tenure in Office.
18. Thank you and God bless us all.