Speaking during a courtesy visit by a delegation from the United States Congress, the Acting Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the NDDC, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, said the Commission’s top priorities for the year 2016 were project completion, human capital development and settlement of indebtedness to contractors.
Semenitari, who stressed the need to change the orientation of people, so as to facilitate the creation of entrepreneurs and wealth in the Niger Delta region, said: “We have noticed that there is poverty in the region because people do not have access to credit, if they want to engage in small scale farming, fishing or business. When they have access to credit, they do not have someone who can take them through the process of becoming entrepreneurs.”
“So for 2016, our focus will be on human capital development and also on creating wealth in the local communities. We will be looking at creating clusters of business people that will grow along the entire spectrum, from micro through small to medium scale,” said the NDDC Managing Director.
Noting that it would be virtually impossible for NDDC to undertake sustainable development of the Niger Delta region by itself, Semenitari said: “Whenever we are able to talk to people who are partners in development, it is always a great opportunity. We are shopping for partners who are willing to support us in the region to achieve our goals. Any kind of support is welcome.”
Giving further insight into goings-on and future plans of the Commission, the NDDC boss acknowledged the Commission’s indebtedness to so many contractors, adding that some of the debts date back to 2009. “We are trying to clear debts of N10 million and below up till 2013. That is our plan to exit our indebtedness to our contractors,” she said.
She said that since NDDC could not just focus on how to get out of debt, “we are looking to have a budget that focuses largely on project completion. So we hope that by the end of 2016, we would have completed a good number of our infrastructural development projects, as funds will allow us.”
The NDDC Acting Managing Director said: “We will start very few projects that must have very high impact on the people and we will be doing this with the consent of and after consultation with the people. To kick-start this we have asked the nine state governments to furnish us with what they thought were their needs for 2016.”
Earlier, the Staff Director, US House Sub-committee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organisations, Mr Gregory Simpkins, who led the visiting delegation, said: “We came to speak with the NDDC, which is the major development catalyst in the Niger Delta region, to see what is happening and what is being planned for the future.