By Codratus Godson
In the face of frequent changes in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the attendant fears in the myriad of partners and stakeholders over policy summersaults, the new Acting Managing Director of the Commission, Kemebradikumo Pondei, has moved to reassure partners in the whopping N40Bn ($129m) Agric project meant to boost agriculture and reduce poverty in the rural areas.
Speaking at a project facilitation training of the $129.17 million Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises Programme in the Niger Delta, LIFE-ND project in Port Harcourt last weekend, the professor of Microbiology said that the Commission was committed to its partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Pondei, who was represented by the NDDC Director Agriculture and Fisheries, George Ero, said that LIFE-ND was planned with a financing gap of six years, adding that it had both a first phase of six years, with parallel finance from NDDC to the tune of US$30million and an additional six years to be financed in the future by other partners and additional IFAD loan.
According to the new CEO, the NDDC would at all times support activities that benefit the citizens of the region, noting that the goal of the LIFE-ND project was to transform the rural economy in the Niger Delta.
He said: “The project directly supports the Federal Government’s agricultural policy and the Strategic Framework for youth employment and job creation. This strategic framework addresses the large and growing number of restless unemployed youths, especially in rural areas. It seeks inclusion of young people in profitable agribusiness.
“LIFE-ND is designed to be implemented in the nine Niger Delta states, commencing with 10 local government areas and 10 communities per LGA, with option of expansion over time.”
The NDDC boss noted that IFAD had a global mandate of eradicating poverty through agricultural interventions targeted at rural communities, stating that: “The FGN/NDDC/IFAD partnership is a novel one designed to improve the living standards of the rural populace. This in turn is expected to reduce rural-urban migration and criminal activities.”
Pondei reiterated the commitment of the NDDC to continuously partner with development organisations like the IFAD in bringing the best to the people of the Niger Delta region.
In his address, the National Project Coordinator for LIFE-ND programme, Sanni Fatai, emphasized that the project would enhance the income, food security and job creation for rural youths and women through agricultural enterprise development on a sustainable basis in the Niger Delta.
Fatai said that the project implementation training was a significant step towards attaining the goals of the LIFE-ND project, stating that the main target were the newly recruited staff at both the national and state coordinating offices.
He explained that the implementation would be facilitated by different committees, including the National Steering Committee, Technical Support Committee and State Project Steering Committee.
In her remarks, the IFAD Country Representative, Nadine Gbossa, explained that the LIFE-ND programme would give additional opportunities to the youths and women in the Niger Delta region.
She said that IFAD was very keen to see the success of the programme, noting that the UN agency would give priority to it and collaborate with the other funding partners to ensure its success.