The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has reiterated the importance of giving opportunities to persons living with disability, in its efforts at making the development of the Niger Delta region integrative, inclusive and sustainable.
Speaking at the presentation of letters of engagement to twelve new employees of the Commission who are physically challenged in Port Harcourt, Interim Administrator/CEO of NDDC, Mr. Efiong Okon Akwa, said the Commission was determined to harness the potentials of all Niger Deltans in order to make the region a better place.
Mr. Akwa said that NDDC “is perhaps the first Federal Government agency to begin the implementation of the Act on persons living with disability which was passed into law in 2019,” adding: “This shows that we are human and we understand and care for others, thereby impacting the lives of people in the region, regardless of their physical condition.”
The NDDC Boss stated: “It is our view that this gesture the government has shown to you will prompt you to extend same to your friends and relatives. We want you to be ambassadors of this government, this Commission and the people of the Niger Delta, so as to serve as a source of motivation to others.”
Mr. Akwa gave credit to President Muhammadu Buhari for directing the agency to intervene, not only in physical infrastructure projects, but also in human capacity building.
“By passing the disability rights law the government,” he said, “has committed to ensuring that people living with disability enjoy their human rights. This is to instil a sense of responsibility, recognition and pride, as well as ownership, in persons living with disability. That is why we are intervening in your lives, and in the lives of all Niger Deltans.”
Mr. Akwa noted that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, who forwarded government’s approval for the engagement, had stated that “President Muhammadu Buhari is aware of what you are passing through and is doing his best to ensure that government stands by you. It is not your choice to live with disability.”
He added: “It is a condition you found yourselves in. But it will not stop you from adding your quota to the development of the Niger Delta, Nigeria and humanity.”
Also speaking at the ceremony, the Director of Human Resources of the Commission, Barr. Silas Anyanwu, said that “this is an epoch-making event, because the NDDC has shown, as perhaps the first government agency to give employment to persons living with disability, that we are mindful of all Niger Deltans, and that we are prepared to work with everyone to develop this region.”
He called on them to give their best in their duties, stating that while the Commission will provide every support to make their work easier, “no one would receive any special favours or considerations. It is important for you to know that we expect the best from you, because to whom much is given, much is expected.”
The regional chairman of the Joint Association of People Living with Disability, Mr. Simon Bidei, thanked the Commission for coming to the aid of persons living with disability, noting that “it was the first of its kind.”
He stated: “NDDC has made history today, by giving us the opportunity to serve. We are grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari, to the honourable minister and the interim administrator for remembering us and knowing that we are living with capability.”
He called on other organisations to emulate NDDC, noting that the Commission had taken into consideration the needs of persons living with disability in constructing the new headquarters building.
NDDC Boss, a Promise Keeper, says UNIUYO VC
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Professor Nyakudo Ndaeyo, has described the Interim Administrator/CEO of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Efiong Okon Akwa, as a promise keeper for ensuring that the long-abandoned 1000-bed NDDC hostel would soon be completed.
Professor Ndaeyo made this declaration when Mr. Akwa paid him a courtesy visit at UNIUYO Senate Chambers, as part of an inspection of the hostel project in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital.
The Vice Chancellor disclosed that he had extracted the promise from the NDDC boss to complete the project shortly after his appointment as Head of the interventionist agency.
Professor Ndaeyo thanked the NDDC for assisting the university to ease the pressure of accommodation, stressing the need to provide the university’s undergraduates with a conducive learning and living environment in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Akwa, who was accompanied by the state director of the Commission, Mr. Obot Udoette, and directors of the Commission, stated that the hostel, sited at the permanent site of the University, will be completed and commissioned next month.
He said that the NDDC’s commitment to the completion of the students’ hostel project was a result of a directive from President Muhammadu Buhari to the Commission to ensure the completion of all its projects in the Niger Delta region.
He said: “The 1,000 bed students’ hostel being built will be a first of its kind in the region. It will have 500 bed spaces for male undergraduates and 500 bed spaces for female undergraduates and will include recreational spaces as well.”
He stated that the university was playing a very important role in the economy and lives of the people of Akwa Ibom State and the South-South region.
The NDDC boss observed that in an era of Covid-19 pandemic, it was necessary to assist universities to properly accommodate students in order to ensure adequate provision for social distancing in the hostels.
Speaking after inspecting the hostel project, the NDDC boss assured that the Commission would assist universities in the region to ensure that their students undertake their studies in comfortable and safe environment.
Akwa expressed delight that the project had reached 95 per cent completion, with only external works and landscaping still being worked on.
He added: “We need to pull out our students from the surrounding villages where they currently reside and host them in a conducive environment fit for learning.”
Fara Dagogo’s bill seeking 13% derivation to be paid directly to host communities bill first reading
A bill seeking to alter the Constitution of the country to pay the 13% derivation fund directly to oil producing host communities has passed first reading on the floor of the House of Representatives.
If passed into law, the 13% derivation fund will be paid directly to the host communities of each benefiting states through the Host Communities Development Commissions.
Sponsor of the bill, Hon. Doctor Farah, Member representing Degema/ Bonny Federal Constituency from Rivers State, said the bill ‘Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (HB. 1570)’, is intended to address and correct the injustices the oil producing communities have been experiencing.
In demonstrating its seriousness, a section of the bill recommended that ‘ failure of any state to establish the Host Communities Development Commission shall be deemed as an offence and such a state shall forfeit 30% of her monthly benefit from the 13% derivation fund till such a time that the Commission is established’
Before the presentation of the bill, the Federal Lawmaker had accused the Governors of the Niger Delta states, of wasting N10 trillion from the derivation fund over the years
“This is a very sad commentary as it relates to the oil-producing communities of the Niger Delta. The 13 per cent Derivation is the fund set aside to assist oil-producing communities to tackle infrastructural decay and degradation, emphasis on the oil-producing communities. What it means basically is that in sharing the federation account revenue, 13 per cent should be set aside to assist the development of these oil-producing communities.
” About two decades down the line what is there to show for the humongous monies that have come in? The Governors, past and present, view it as free monies”, he said.
“Between 2000 and 2018, over N10trillion from the 13 per cent derivation principle, have been shared to the Niger Delta Governors, on behalf of the oil-producing communities, yet the deplorable living conditions of the people from these oil-producing communities have remained nauseating and deplorable with the people battling and still reeking with the worst and highest form of poverty, “he noted.
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