By; PRECIOUS IBINABO DAVIDS, Port Harcourt
The recent payment of over N2 billion by the Professor Nelson Brambaifa-led Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to offset outstanding fees and stipends for its foreign post-graduate scholarship beneficiaries has been described as visionary and encouraging.
A chieftain and stakeholder of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-South, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, who gave the commendation in a statement issued and circulated in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, also charged Governors from the Niger Delta states to adopt the spirit of human capital development as exhibited by the current leadership of the Commission, saying qualitative training of the region’s human resources is a sure way to real development.
Eze, who has been known to be a supporter of the laudable ideas and activities of the Commission, under the current leadership, observed that altogether, 3,112 candidates, selected from over 5,000 who applied for the post-graduate foreign scholarship programme of the NDDC, are taking part in the 2019 programme.
The programme, which was introduced in 2010, was designed to equip graduates of Niger-Delta origin with the relevant training and skills as it was critical to capacity building and improving educational standards in the region. The scholarship scheme is also part of the NDDC’s human resource development initiatives.
Eze recalled that the NDDC Chief Executive Officer recently led a delegation, included the Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Dr Chris Amadi, on a five-day working visit to some universities in the United Kingdom, adding that the visit was used to deepen the existing relationships with the foreign universities and to take advantage of other mutually beneficial programmes.
“With these visionary steps taken by the six month-old present management team of the NDDC in running the Commission and for her most pro-people activities, the Commission has shamed most of its detractors and critics and gladly most Niger Deltans are happy and proud of the feats so far recorded by this administration.
“This scholarship scheme has not only brought hope to Niger Deltans, but has also indicted Governor Nyesom Wike’s anti-education policy. Wike, on assumption of office, had cancelled the foreign scholarship scheme introduced by his predecessor, Rt. Hon. Dr. Amaechi, thereby bringing hopelessness to our youths and endangering the future of our state”, he said.
Eze also condemned some contractors of the Commission, whom he tagged as ‘PDP sponsored contractors.’ According to him, the category of contractors had alleged that the Commission has refused to pay them for contracts executed, however, the APC chieftain said their position contradicts that of other contractors who have applauded and appreciated the efforts of the Commission in paying off their debts.
The contractors, in a statement endorsed by the trio of Chief Aaron Tamunokoriari Princewill, Engr. Zebb Tuordolor and Dr. Nyema Owhondah, had alleged “we the contractors of Rivers/Bayelsa are beneficiaries of this new board while the entire Niger Delta is bubbling with relief since its inception. Our payments have been flowing unhindered and we are carrying out projects awarded to us with specification and proper supervision, unlike in the past”.
However, in a rather positive twist, Eze quoted a Niger Delta stakeholder, Chief (Prof.) Jasper Jumbo, as refuting the “false allegation by these PDP-sponsored protesting contractors”, saying he received a positive testimony through a text message about the NDDC by Prof Jumbo:
“Chief Eze, Your post on the payment of small ticket bills refers. The commission has commenced payment of 10 to 29 million Naira bills owed some youths and consultants. Our bills had been outstanding, for 2 to 5 years and they are all completed jobs we borrowed money from the banks with collateral, to satisfactorily execute. I met with Prof. Brambaifa last Monday and there and then, he graciously directed one of the officials in writing, to attend to that bill.
“The young man, Mr. Briggs had done so. We now await the EDFA to tick and do the final uploading. The point here us that local genuine contractors who execute their jobs without taking mobilisation from the Commission should be encouraged by paying them hideously. This would help ensure regional growth and economic cyclicality. They are trying, but need to do a lot More, with the funds we generated for the Commission lately. I advised Brambaifa accordingly at our exclusive meeting”, he quoted Prof. Jumbo as attesting.
“Prof Jumbo’s submition tallies with that of Prof Brambaifa’s team, who on assumption of office swung into action to begin the first phase of payments (N10m and below) and then the (N20m and below categories). All payments are being made in tranches in order to liquidate as much debts as possible within the shortest possible time and it is a continuous process so those yet to be paid should excerise patience”, Eze counseled.
Eze opined that Prof Brambaifa led Team need to be commended and encouraged for their visionary leadership and pleads for patience among stakeholders and benefitting communities as it will be magical to expect the present Board to clear all the debts and mistakes of over 20years of NDDC existence in six months.