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NDDC seeks Belgium’s support in health, environment, others

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In its quest to develop a new master plan for the Niger Delta region, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has sought Belgium’s support in health, environment, youth empowerment and infrastructure development.

NDDC Interim Administrator, Effiong Akwa, said health remained a major challenge in the region, noting that Belgium could assist the commission, considering the way it successfully tackled the COVID-19 pandemic.

Akwa stated this when the Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, Daniel Bertrand, visited the commission in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

In a statement issued by Director, Corporate Affairs of NDDC, Ibitote Abosede, he noted that part of the health challenges emanated from environmental degradation from oil spills and gas flaring, adding: “We seek collaboration in health, environment, training, agriculture and development of a new master plan.”

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Akwa observed that Belgium, as the headquarters of European Union, was in a vantage position to coordinate other multi-national companies doing business in the Niger Delta region to partner with the NDDC to speed up development of the region.

He said development of physical infrastructure, boosting agriculture, aquaculture and training of the youths in various vocations, were critical issues that required collaboration.

He also stressed the need for assistance and cooperation of multinational companies operating in the Niger Delta region to end gas flaring and check environmental pollution through enhanced partnerships.

“Our environment has been put in jeopardy because of the oil and gas exploration and exploitation of multinational companies in the region,” he added.

Akwa called for collaboration with the Belgian Government in its efforts to produce a revised regional development master plan for the Niger Delta region, saying the 15-year master plan expired in 2020.

He, therefore, appealed to the Belgian Government for cooperation to produce another master plan that would facilitate the rapid development of Nigeria’s oil-rich region.

Responding, Bertrand said that the Belgian Government was interested in deepening bilateral ties with development agencies in Nigeria, adding: “I look forward to working with the NDDC to deepen our relationship.”

He stated that he visited the commission on a fact-finding mission to have first hand knowledge of its core mandate and seek ways of partnering with the NDDC.

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