The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has dedicated an award it received from the African Union Commission (AUC) to President Muhammadu Buhari.
In its first Africa SME Annual Forum held in Cairo, Egypt, at the weekend, the African Union awarded the NDDC as the best “intervention agency for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Livelihood Support”.
The AU’s acting Director for Industry, Minerals, Entrepreneurship and Tourism, Charles Newton Chiumya, said NDDC was recognised for the maiden award for supporting and promoting SMEs and livelihood in the Niger Delta and Africa particularly among women and youths.
The Interim Administrator, NDDC, Dr. Effiong Akwa, who received the award attributed the latest feat by the NDDC to Buhari’s commitment to rebrand and restructure the commission for optimum performance.
Dr. Akwa, who was represented at the event by his Special Adviser, Youths and former Commissioner in Bayelsa State, Engr. Udengs Eradiri, said the global recognition was an eloquent testimony that the NDDC despite its challenges had over the years impacted positively on the livelihood and economic empowerment of Niger Delta, Nigeria and Africa.
He said while people expressed mixed feelings in Nigeria about the performance of the commission, global institutions and organisations could only appreciate the efforts of the NDDC to promote industrialisation through its support for SMEs.
Dr. Akwa said: “This award is dedicated to President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment to rebranding and restructuring the NDDC for optimum performance. I feel elated because truly, the NDDC over the years has been contributing immensely without blowing its trumpet to people’s wellbeing.
“Whereas some people back home throw stones at the NDDC, the commission’s positive impact is receiving global recognition. It means that the NDDC has actually done well in developing the Niger Delta and also creating impact in the lives of its people.
“The NDDC has done a lot despite criticisms. Let’s cast our mind back to where we were before the creation of the NDDC and where we are today. Communities that didn’t have roads before are now accessible by roads.
“People now have access to healthcare, schools and most people’s lives have changed because of the NDDC. People who didn’t have water, light , jetties have them because of the interventions of the NDDC. While some people are throwing stones at home, internationally we are getting recognition”.
Dr. Akwa said the award would motivate the NDDC to do more for the Niger Delta by reviewing qualities of its projects, programmes and infrastructures in line with the recommendations of the forensic audit report.
He said: “The award will motivate the NDDC to do more and in doing more, we must target set goals. In the next five years where do we intend to be in SMEs development? Where do we intend to be in terms of roads? What kind of hospitals should we be building?
“The recognition is an awakening to the NDDC to know that people are observing us. The forensic audit report will help in this restructuring. The report has looked at the factors bedeviling the NDDC and has come up with recommendations. Those recommendations if implemented and a new board is constituted in line with the recommendations, we are very hopeful that the NDDC will be on the speed lane of progress”.
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