The Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, has said that the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises Programme in the Niger Delta, LIFE-ND, a partnership between the Commission and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, will help to bring people back to agriculture.
Speaking during the inauguration of the Technical Support Committee for the LIFE-ND programme at the NDDC new headquarters in Port Harcourt, Prof Pondei said the goal of the programme was to transform the rural economy of the Niger Delta region and improve the livelihood of the citizens.
Pondei, said that it was necessary to activate the relevant committees, involving the IFAD, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and NDDC, to provide all the necessary support required for the successful implementation of the LIFE-ND programme.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer lamented that while the programmes had progressed appreciably in other parts of the country, it had not done so well in the Niger Delta region because of funding challenges. He, however, remarked that the challenges were gradually being overcome as the programme had taken off in six states of the region.
In his own remarks, the NDDC Director Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr Doodei Week, said that the focus on agriculture would help to diversify the resource base of the country and reduce the dependence on oil and gas in the Niger Delta.
He said that the Technical Support Committee of the LIFE-ND programme was the second-tier of the project implementation, noting that it had a financing agreement which mandates the committee to periodically review the progress of the programme and ensure that it was line with the original design.
The director said: “We are happy that so far, the project is subsisting after being launched over one year ago. Six states of Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Ondo have already kicked off. Incubators and incubates have been selected and the national office, funded by NDDC, is already operational.”
He said that the partnership between IFAD and the NDDC would enhance the opportunities of youths and women and also alleviate poverty in the Niger Delta region by creating employment opportunities that would meaningfully engage the youths and women.
The National Project Coordinator for LIFE-ND programme, Engr.Abiodun Sanni, emphasized that it would enhance the income, food security and job creation for rural youths and women through agricultural enterprise development on a sustainable basis in the Niger Delta.
Engr. Sanni said that the implementation would be facilitated by different committees, including the National Steering Committee, Technical Support Committee and State Project Site
Sanni said the LIFE-ND programme would enhance the income, food security and job creation for rural youths and women through agricultural enterprise development on a sustainable basis in the Niger Delta.
Also speaking, a representative of the Director Project Coordinating Unit, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Bassey Unaowo, said that LIFE-ND was planned with a financing gap of six years, adding that it had both a first phase of six years, with parallel finance from NDDC and an additional six years to be financed by other partners and additional IFAD loan.
He regretted that the LIFE-ND programme had been slowed down in the Niger Delta because of funding challenges.