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NDDC boss: Let’s chart new course for Niger Delta

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Acting Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr. Joi Nunieh, yesterday said that the interim management committee (IMC) of the commission would bring all stakeholders, including youths, on board to chart a new course for the Niger Delta region.

Nunieh, who spoke during an interactive session with youth leaders in the region in Port Harcourt, said it was important to aggregate the views of major groups to give impetus to the development programmes being driven by the commission. Present at the meeting were youth leaders, led by the President of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Mr Pereotubo Oweilaemi; IYC Chairman, Eastern Zone, Mr. Sammy George; representatives from Isoko, Ogoni, Ikwerre, among others.

The NDDC chief executive officer underlined the need to have a sense of direction to help quicken the pace of development in the oil-rich region. In this vein, Nunieh said: “We are promoting the ‘Charity Begins at Home’ programme, meant to inspire companies and individuals to give back to their communities.

“We want companies to buy into the programme and adopt different communities for the provision of infrastructure. For instance, Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) has responded to the campaign and is now fixing the failed sections of the Akpajo-Onne axis of the East-West Road in Rivers State.” Nunieh said that henceforth, NDDC contractors would be required to adopt communities where they would execute a project such as water, electricity or health facility.

She added: “What we are trying to do with this programme is to mobilise people to give back to our communities.”

The acting managing director urged Niger Delta stakeholders to support the efforts of the Federal Government to clean up all polluted environment in the region, noting that; “We must realise that the essence of the Niger Delta struggle is more for environmental security.”

She said NDDC would encourage the various communities to keep their villages and beaches clean and appealed for all hands to be on deck. According to her, “all of us have roles to play to make our region safe, clean and economically viable.”

Nunieh observed that oil companies operating in the Niger Delta had through their exploration and exploitation activities degraded the environment.

To make matters worse, she said: “Our youths who are engaged in illegal refining of crude oil, have joined in this despoliation by polluting the environment with soot. “The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report shows that one in eight persons from Ogoni will die of cancer. This is frightening and we must do something now to correct the problems.”

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