By Desmond Ejibas
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says it will work with the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) to eradicate poverty in the Niger Delta.
NDDC Managing Director, Mr Nsima Ekere, said this on Thursday in Port Harcourt, when the Special Adviser to the President and Head of NSIP, Mrs Maryam Uwais, led a delegation to the commission’s headquarters.
According to a statement by the commission’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Ibitoye Abosede, NDDC will support NSIP to fight poverty in Niger Delta because poverty knows no political affiliation or religious inclination.
“I am happy that NSIP is fighting poverty and striving to give hope to the poorest of the poor – who arguably are more in the Niger Delta that produces the nation’s wealth.
“The present NDDC board and management are making efforts to return the commission to its core mandate. This explains why we currently have as much as 8,000 projects ongoing,” he said.
Ekere said the desire to end poverty in the region led the board to adopt a 4-R strategy which focuses on redefining the commission’s processes.
He said the strategy aimed at restructuring the commission’s balance sheet; restore its core mandate and reaffirm commitment to doing what was right and proper at all times.
He said the strategy also entails reformation of the commission’s governance system to ensure it complies with extant rules and regulations.
“NDDC has done a lot in infrastructure over the years; however, we also want to build human capital, which is the area that connects with NSIP mandate to fight poverty.
“We are embarking on collaborations that will help; recently, we signed agreement with NEXIM bank to help us achieve this.
“We want to create an export initiative in the agricultural sector – which will create jobs and help the nation’s economy, especially now that value of crude oil is waning,” he said.
Ekere said the commission was in partnership with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) to create jobs for indigent youths and train women on businesses.
Earlier, Uwais, the Head, NSIP, called on NDDC to assist the body to drive its four social investment programmes in the region.
She said the Federal Government’s N-Power job programme for unemployed tertiary graduates in the country was by far “the largest spending item among its four social investment programmes.”
“N-Power job scheme for unemployed graduates is running in 36 states and have seen 200,000 unemployed youths effectively enrolled, validated in 2016 and cleared to receive N30,000 monthly stipend.
“The number of beneficiaries is expected to increase to about 400,000 in a couple of months,” she said.
Uwais said they had made progress with GEEP, designed to empower market women, traders and artisans, with the disbursement of interest free loans.
She said the portal for engagement of the beneficiaries would soon be opened and would last for a period of six weeks.