The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has reassured the people of Opobo and other communities in the Niger Delta region of the execution of more projects and programmes in their areas.
The NDDC Acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, made the promise when members of the Vanguard of Opobo Nation, in Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State, paid her a courtesy visit at the commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.
She said that the Commission recognised the need to bring governance closer to the grassroots where most of the challenges of development exist. According to her, “the Commission is paying special attention to developing communities in the Niger Delta to ensure that they enjoy the benefits of the oil that is produced in their land.”
Mrs. Semenitari stated that the NDDC had continued to intervene in the areas of health, education, social services, skill acquisition, among others. In continuation of these efforts, she told leaders of the Opobo community that urgent attention would be paid to upgrading their health centre.
The Acting MD expressed regret that the Opobo health center had been a sore point for several years. “The NDDC Directorate of Education, Health and Social Services will assess the situation to see how we can help. Fortunately, this is not a new health center because part of what we have said to ourselves is that we are not going to keep building new health centers that do not have personnel. But existing health centers that need renovation and rehabilitation will be upgraded to benefitting health centers,” she said.
Mrs. Semenitari called for more support from state governments in the execution of development projects and programmes in the region. She deplored the lukewarm attitude of some of the states during the International Women’s Day, where the NDDC actively supported the Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Science, GEMS, competition.
She said: “It is worrisome that we didn’t get the kind of support we expected in terms of activities from the various ministries of education in the states that didn’t understand or perhaps were nonchalant of the need to encourage science education among girls.
“However, I commend the actions of the Edo State and the Delta State governments that aggressively and actively supported their girls who took part in the competition. It is for that reason that out of the 33 finalists, eleven of them came from Ondo state and the winner came from the same state.”
The Acting Managing Director told the community leaders that the NDDC foreign post graduate scholarships would be offered to qualified candidates that applied before the closing date. “We have decided as a commission that it is going to be on merit. The reason is because we must stop the culture of trying to jump the queue. We need to do this because the people in our communities, whether poor or rich must be able to have access regardless of if they have a godfather or not.”
The President of the Vanguard of Opobo Nation, Senibo Emma Oko-Jaja, congratulated Mrs. Semenitari on her appointment as the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, observing that she had done tremendously well.
He said that the appointment was an opportunity for her to leave a legacy in Opobo kingdom so that generations to come would remember her. “We want to call your attention to some areas that our people have needs, such as in skill acquisition because many of our people are unemployed. We also need help in the area of healthcare. A lot of women and children are languishing back at home, facing very serious health challenges, they don’t have access to good health facilities,” he said.
Senibo Oko-Jaja appealed to the NDDC to also extend assistance to the people of Opobo in the area of training, education and scholarship, noting that it was critical to the development of any community.