Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has kicked off the distribution of medical supplies, relief materials and public enlightenment campaign to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) across the Niger Delta region.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony at the NDDC warehouse, Trans-Amadi Industrial Layout, Port Harcourt, the Commission’s acting Managing Director, Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei, lamented that the poor state of health facilities in the country, specifically in most states of the Niger Delta region, saying it was a major constraint in the fight against COVID-19.
‘No doubt, the disease has also taken its toll on the socio-economic well-being of citizens, especially as most small and medium scale businesses have been affected with the lockdown imposed in the states,’ he remarked at the event.
Prof Pondei noted that the economic wellbeing of the people of the region has further been eroded due to the series of lockdowns being imposed by both the federal and state governments as a precautionary measure to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
He noted that the commission was always desirous to support the government and people of the states in the Niger Delta region in the area of quality health care delivery.
‘The commission looks forward to strengthening the relationship with the states in the region in the area of healthcare for the good and well-being of the residents.
‘The good relationship between the governments of states in the region offers an opportunity for synergy in efforts geared towards providing a lasting solution to the socio-economic challenges of the people in the region,’ he noted.
Prof Pondei said that the NDDC needed to complement the efforts of the nine states covered by its mandate in response to the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, stating: ‘All the nine NDDC states were supported with funds. In addition, funds were also given to women and youth groups as palliatives.’
The NDDC boss remarked that the funds given to the states were utilised for the procurement of medical supplies such as special diagnostic equipment, critical care equipment like ventilators and consumables.
Others, he said, were various food items, beverages, sanitary materials and disinfectants.
‘Also provided were support needs for the physically-challenged, such as wheelchairs and crutches. The funds also cover sensitisation and public enlightenment campaign as an important measure to contain the spread of coronavirus in the Niger Delta region.’
In his remarks, NDDC Executive Director, Projects, Dr Cairo Ojougbo, said that COVID-19 was the most important issue in the world today, noting that the commission had come up with programmes to curb the spread of the virus.
Chairman of the NDDC Palliative Committee Mr Sobomabo Jackrich described the ceremony as a laudable and historic event.
‘When you put square pegs in square holes, you should expect good results. Members of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) are people that mean well for the region. I thank the IMC for finding youths worthy of being involved in the programme,’ he stated.
The Secretary-General of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities in the Niger Delta (TROMPCON), Frank Okurakpor, lauded the NDDC, for coming up with the initiatives.
He described the commission as an auxiliary gear that takes people out from difficult situations.
He, however, warned that the NDDC should not be used as a breeding ground for politicians, stating that whoever wanted to vie for any political office, should do so from elsewhere and not from the NDDC.
The Amamgada X11 of Rebisi, Eze W. Akarolo, commended the NDDC for its development efforts in the Niger Delta and welcomed the intervention of the commission in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Niger Delta youth leader, Mr Jonathan Lokpobiri, expressed gratitude to President Buhari for approving the distribution of palliatives to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on the lives of vulnerable people in the region.