Budget delay affecting plans by NDDC, IFAD to take Niger Delta back to Agric

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The delay in approving the annual budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) may be delaying the take off of the proposed agric partnership between the Commission and the Commission and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

As soon as this is sorted out in the coming weeks, the journey back to agric with a budget of $129.17m would begin.

The Acting Managing Director of the, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, says that partnership between the two organisations would help to take the Niger Delta region back to agriculture.

Speaking during a courtesy visit by officials of the United Nations agency at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, Prof Pondei affirmed that the the $129.17 million Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises Programme in the Niger Delta, LIFE-ND, would create jobs in agribusiness.

He said: “We want to refocus the interest of the people of the Niger Delta and get the youths to return to agriculture. I believe that this partnership between IFAD and the NDDC will enhance the opportunities of our youths and women and also alleviate poverty in the region.

“We will give you maximum support, especially now that you have gone through all the preliminary processes, including the recruitment and training of staff.”

Pondei stated that LIFE-ND would be implemented in the nine Niger Delta States and was designed to commence with 10 local government areas and 10 communities per local government, adding that it would create 38,250 jobs in the agricultural sector.

He remarked: “We will like a situation where that number could be increased but we have another programme which we hope to deploy to make up for the shortfall in numbers.”

The NDDC CEO assured that the Commission would provide all the necessary support required for the successful implementation of the LIFE-ND programme.

With regards to funding, the NDDC boss said that if there were delays, it was because of the constraints arising from the budgetary processes, which he hoped would be resolved in the next one or two weeks and when funds become available, the NDDC would be in a position to give the necessary practical support expected of it.

He urged the IFAD team to always keep NDDC abreast of the processes of the programme, stating: “We need to know the challenges along the line so that they can be jointly addressed them.”

He declared that the Federal Government and the NDDC were committed to the programme and believed that the partnership would subsequently give birth to more programmes that would impart positively on the people of the Niger Delta region.

The IFAD Country Representative, Ms Nadine Gbossa, explained that LIFE-ND programme was designed to get the youths and women to be engaged in productive activities relating to commercial agriculture.

She said that the FGN/NDDC/IFAD partnership was a novel one designed to improve the living standards of the rural populace, noting that creating jobs for youths and women was a priority for IFAD.

The Country Representative said that apart from engaging 38,250 youths and women, the LIFE-ND programme would also establish 900 enterprise incubators from among the target group.

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