The Akwa Ibom State permanent office of the Niger Delta Development Commission is to be built during the tenure of the present board of the commission.
The Managing Director, NDDC, Mr. Nsima Ekere, said this while inspecting the permanent site in Uyo shortly after signalling the commencement of the distribution of desks and chairs donated by the commission to schools in the nine states of the Niger Delta region.
He pointed out that Akwa Ibom, the biggest oil-producing state in the region, had benefitted substantially from the commission with a total of 1,068 projects since 2002.
Of the figure, 455 are completed, costing N67.7bn; while 318 are ongoing projects and have cost the commission N34bn and made up of buildings, dredging, canalisation, electrical, education equipment, road and water projects.
According to him, 298 projects costing N71.04bn have been approved by the board for execution in Akwa Ibom State.
Ekere noted that of the 72,000 desks and 72,000 chairs meant for distribution in the region, Akwa Ibom State was getting 9,600 each.
He pointed out that the items would be distributed to the schools most in need of them in consultation with the state government.
The NDDC boss stated that the programme, a long-standing one, was designed on needs assessment, taking into consideration the inadequate study conditions in schools across the region.
He pledged that the commission would continue to invest massively in scholarship for postgraduate students from the Niger Delta in institutions all over the world, adding that there might be a need for the NNDC to consider intervention at the undergraduate level for very gifted students.
“The NDDC takes the education of our children very seriously,” he declared.
Ekere assured Nigerians that the project delivery in the region would be accelerated as soon as the NDDC was able to obtain the much-needed funds due to it from the budget.
He added, “I hate to see abandoned projects. That is why when we came in, we ensured that 70 per cent of our funds was allocated to abandoned projects and 30 per cent to ongoing projects.
“We will continue to pursue vigorously the recovery of all funds due to the NDDC. As those funds come in, Akwa Ibom State will also benefit.”
The Commissioner representing Akwa Ibom State in the NDDC, Mr. Samuel Frank, appreciated the managing director for paying his first official visit to the state office and lauded his dynamic and enterprising leadership of the commission.
Frank said the NDDC was only complementing and not competing with the state government with projects for the benefit of the people.
A former Leader of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Dr. Etido Ibekwe, who spoke on behalf of prominent indigenes of the state present at the ceremony, said the state was blessed to have the present managing director of the commission, whom he noted was making the state proud.
He urged the Akwa Ibom State Government to “open its arms to embrace the NDDC so that at the end of the day, Akwa Ibom State will benefit.”