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Niger Delta Minister kicks against stoppage of overseas scholarship programme

By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
30 July 2022   |   2:37 am
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Obong Umana, yesterday, kicked against the stoppage of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) overseas scholarship scheme for the indigenes

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The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Obong Umana, yesterday, kicked against the stoppage of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) overseas scholarship scheme for the indigenes and assured the beneficiaries that the programme would be sustained.

Interim Administrator of the NDDC, Effiong Akwa, had hinted that the overseas scholarship scheme would be scrapped over the paucity of funds.

But Umana, in his closing remarks, at the two-day retreat for senior staff of the NDDC and the Niger Delta Ministry, said the programme would not only be sustained but also expanded to include Nigerian universities.

He said, “I don’t agree with the NDDC Interim Administrator to suspend the overseas scholarships. We’ll review the way it was done previously, and we’ll be more transparent with the way it is done so that people can understand what the features are and the criteria for selection.

“I believe that we need to sustain the programme and also expand the scheme to Nigerian universities.”

Meanwhile, in the communiqué issued at the end of the Retreat, the Ministry resolved to comply with the ideals of transparency, accountability, innovation and corporate governance for improved service delivery.

The communiqué read in part, “At the end of the Retreat, the following resolutions were arrived at: Rededicate to and comply with the ideals of transparency, accountability, innovation and corporate governance for improved service delivery.

“To institute a framework for partnership with states and other stakeholders for joint need assessment, prioritisation and project monitoring. This would speed up infrastructural development in the Niger Delta region and avoid overlaps/duplication of efforts; finalise the harmonisation of all development plans (the Niger Delta Action Plan, Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan (NDRDMP), IOCs Plans) and secure the concurrence of states and other development partners for effective implementation.

“Adopt collaboration and synergy as the bedrock of the oversight function of the MNDA in its relationship with the NDDC. Towards this end, a biannual management retreat is recommended to foster this relationship and by consequence improve service and project delivery.”

It continued: “Further engagements to re-orient critical stakeholders in the region on peacebuilding is necessary to consolidate the stability of the region. The carrying out of re-orientation advocacy to engender a positive disposition to cooperate with governments on development projects in the Niger Delta region is recommended.

“Focus on mega infrastructure projects through the adoption of Public Private Partnership (PPP) as a major funding option to mobilise private sector resources and multilateral agencies which would create a robust economy that guarantees jobs and wealth creation; and enthrone and comply strictly with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, Public Service Rules and Procedures as well as Financial Regulations in the operations of the Agency and the Ministry.”

Meanwhile, the participants particularly expressed appreciation to President Muhamadu Buhari and the National Assembly for their relentless efforts toward the development of the Niger Delta region.