The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is partnering with the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, on a 60 million dollars (about 21 billion naira) job creation programme which will help reduce youth unemployment in the Niger Delta region.
The Managing Director of the NDDC, Mr. Nsima U. Ekere, who disclosed this when IFAD officials paid a courtesy visit to management at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, said that the Commission would sustain and strengthen its partnership with the UN agency, as part of efforts to create wealth and transform the region.
Mr. Ekere, who was represented by Engr. Samuel Adjogbe, the NDDC Executive Director Projects, stated that the Commission carried out a baseline study to gather data which would help it produce a good design for the new IFAD programme.
“If there is something I would really want to support, it is the collaboration that IFAD is bringing,” he said, adding: “The NDDC is ready to partner with IFAD in the new programme because we need to diversify the mono-economy of the country.
"It is a thing of joy that IFAD is partnering with us to achieve this goal. We hope that what we have gathered as the base line survey will help us to produce a design that will give us something reliable when we get to the implementation stage.
“NDDC is committed to getting many people, particularly our youths, back to work, because we need to get our people to be meaningfully engaged. And this will help strengthen the process of our engagement with them, which we have begun in earnest."
The NDDC Executive Director said that the Commission had always recognized agriculture as the way forward for Nigeria, adding that it would continue to support IFAD to integrate rural dwellers into agricultural entrepreneurship.
“Oil and gas," he declared, "has given us a take-off platform. Now we must diversify.”
Dr. Rich Pitrine, the representative of the IFAD Rome and Country Director in Nigeria, said that the new programme, which would run for seven years, would revolve around enterprise development for youths and women.
“We understand the lack of opportunities which is an unfortunate disease for your region," Dr. Pitrine said. "We understand very well that there are phenomenal things which can be done if proactive investments are done."
He explained that the IFAD programme would broadened the economic horizon of budding entrepreneurs and set the stage for the emergence of a sustainable system that would engage youths in enterprise-based jobs. He said that IFAD was counting on NDDC to give the necessary support to build the new project.
He said: “We have invested with NDDC in the past on Community-Based Natural Resource Management Programme (CBNRMP) that has helped to create wealth in the Niger Delta region. We have learnt some lessons from that and we have had some successes.”
“We are an investor and not a project implementing team. We are not coming to Nigeria or to the Niger Delta to take over. We are coming here to help you to invest in your vision and invest jointly with you to realize an outcome which will create employment for you in this region particularly.”
Mr. Marcel Eshiogu, NDDC Director Agriculture and Fisheries praised the gains of the partnership with IFAD, noting that the Commission had been in working with the UN agency since 2005.