From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises Project for the Niger Delta (LIFE-ND), has said that the Niger Delta Development Commission’s (NDDC) failure to release its $30 million counterpart funding into the group has continued to deny 13,500 women and youth the empowerment benefits.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) assisted LIFE-ND involving agro skills and entrepreneurship training for youths in the Niger Delta was initiated by Federal Government in 2019, to curb youth restiveness through job creation, enhance food security and economic development.
LIFE-ND National Coordinator, Abiodun Sanni, disclosed this at a stakeholders’ gathering in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday, to launch the certification of the project into an Entrepreneurship Development Institute by the Nirsal Micro Finance Bank (NMFB).
Sanni said Akwa Ibom, Imo and Rivers States are yet to come on board because of the NDDC default, while six other states in the region have gained so much.
“With the launch of the project as an Entrepreneurship Development Institute by the NMFB, we are set to catalyse the LIFE-ND of training youths and women of the Niger Delta with the benefit of certification and access to finance through NMFB,” he stated.
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“We are supposed to interface with nine states in the region, but currently running in six. NDDC is expected to pay a counterpart fund of $30 million within a span of six years, just as IFAD is promptly putting in $60 million for Abia, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Delta, Edo and Ondo States.
“Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Imo are yet to come on board because the NDDC is yet to pay their counterpart funds required to enlist these three states. The project targets 38,750 beneficiaries, but nonpayment by NDDC has reduced beneficiaries to 25,250 which is not commendable.
“This has lingered for over three years. We have done all we can to ensure NDDC lives up to its responsibility but up till now, we have not been able to get the commitment needed from the commission. So, what we have achieved so far is for the six states being funded by IFAD.
“A project that could have ensured that youths in these three states have tremendously benefited from this goodwill, has not manifested because the commission has failed to meet up its responsibility. The project is supposed to end in 2025. We are hitting the third year mark and a lot has been achieved in respect of the six states currently onboard.”