The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has said that the commission was collaborating with stakeholders to build a consensual strategy that would guarantee quality life for the people of the Niger Delta region.
The Managing Director Designate of the Commission, Mr. Nsima Ekere who was a guest speaker at the fifth edition of the Niger Delta Development Forum (NDDF) with the theme, “Towards Self Sustaining Development in the Niger Delta: Narrating and Showcasing a Re-Imagined Niger Delta in Owerri at the weekend said the incoming team work relentlessly to return peace to the Niger Delta so as to fast track the nation’s recovery from recession.
According to him, “some of the areas the incoming team will be focusing on are measures geared towards ensuring equitable access to social infrastructure; Promoting healthcare and related service delivery; ensuring Human Capital Development; fostering Youth Engagement; empowering the people and engendering active participation; attracting new industries to the Niger Delta and increasing export from non-oil sectors and; preventing capital flight via enhanced security.
He noted that problems bedeviling the Niger Delta were as huge as they are multifaceted, emphasizing that the crash of the oil price and renewed militancy has further compounded the woes in the region.
Ekere added that without concerted efforts by key players such as; the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), state governments, DFID, USAID multinational oil exploration and extraction companies, and other key stake holders, peace in the region may be difficult to attain now and in the future.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari, for his dedicated efforts in working to restore peace to the Niger Delta which has yielded many positive results, stressing that the current administration’s o Ogoni land Clean Up project was a testimony of Buhari’s commitment to make Niger Delta safe for lives and to grow its economy beyond oil.
On his part, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State assured that the state would drive all the projects to be implemented by the Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta (PIND), working closely with Development Market Alliance in the Niger Delta (DEMAND), an initiative of the multinational development agencies aimed at recording maximum benefits from agricultural value chains in the state.
Governor Okorocha who was represented by his deputy, Prince Uche Madumere key officials of the state government saw the need to engage with the development partners closely to ensure that this year’s Niger Delta Development Forum (NDDF) does not end up as another talk shop where actionable plans and concrete decisions will not be implemented.
Madumere said the business meeting he had with USAID Markets II, UK DFID, PIND, USAID SACE etc was an eye opener to the invaluable contributions that the development partners can make to the development of the state, adding that the Imo State Directorate for Employment and Job Creation has already been directed to work closely with other stakeholders to ensure the take off of the projects without further delay.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Executive Director of Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta (PIND), Same Daibo said the non-profit organization will continue to build partnerships for peace and equitable economic development in the Niger Delta through four mutually-reinforcing program areas with emphasis on economic development, capacity building, peace building and analysis and advocacy.
He said in the last two years, PIND has been able to involve the governments of the host states directly in the planning of Niger Delta Development Forum (NDDF) in order for them to take ownership of and drive the policy recommendations that come out of the Forums.
Daibo listed some of the achievements of PIND to include the provision of equipment support to women and youth farmers in Cross River and Delta States addressing the constraint of access to finance through USAID’s MARKETS (Maximizing Agricultural Revenue and Key Enterprises) II.
On access to finance, Daibo said, USAID- MARKETS II/PIND/MADE have brokered working relationships between SMEs in agricultural production, processing, equipment manufacturing, etc and financial institutions. They include GroFin, Bank of Agriculture, MFIs, USADF, among others.
He said PIND “has been working towards a more peaceful and equitable Niger Delta for over five years and now has great confidence in the region’s ability to realize its fullest potentials”.