The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC has re-stated its commitment to the sustenance of the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises Programme in the Niger Delta, LIFE-ND.
The NDDC Acting Managing Director, Engr. Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua, assured on the Commission’s resolve during a courtesy visit by a delegation from the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.
He lauded the NDDC/IFAD agricultural programme and called for an expansion of the training scheme rather than any move to scale down its scope, pledging that the Commission will not renege on its counterpart funding.
The LIFE-ND programme, which is undertaken by IFAD, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the NDDC, was designed to engage the youths and women in productive activities relating to commercial agriculture.
Audu-Ohwavborua stated: “We believe in the IFAD programme and we want to continue running it. Shrinking the programme is not an option, let’s expand the programme. Let’s focus on the teeming youths that this programme will impact. Agriculture is the way to go because one of the easiest ways to curb unemployment is through agriculture.”
The NDDC boss attributed the challenges associated with the NDDC counterpart funding to a decline in government revenue which he noted was not peculiar to Nigeria. He noted: “The current inability of the NDDC to measure up to its counterpart funding is due to falling revenues.”
Speaking further, he called for a review of the impact of the NDDC/IFAD partnership noting that the NDDC has sponsored a lot of training programmes in the Niger Delta region. In spite of this, he said, “the unemployment rate in the region keeps going up.”
“It’s not enough to train the youths, we need to get a feedback that the training is having a positive impact on the economy of the Niger Delta region.”
Speaking earlier, IFAD Country Director, Mrs. Dede Ekoue, said that the partnership between the NDDC and the international organisation had been long-standing, stating that it had the potential to change the lives of the people of the Niger Delta region for good.
“We have seen that the NDDC is committed to changing the lives of the youths. 6,000 youths have been trained in the agriculture value chain by the ÌFAD/NDDC partnership and 2,000 of those youths are today, self-employed.”
She observed that the partnership between the NDDC and IFAD has had impact on six States of the Niger Delta region. “Today, we are better equipped to have impact in the other three States.”