From Mike Odiegwu, Port Harcourt
Acting Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Managing Director Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei on Wednesday justified the commission’s decision to give financial support to Niger Delta states.
Some groups in the oil-rich region have been criticising the agency’s N1 billion to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic fight.
Speaking in Port Harcourt yesterday, Prof Pondei said the commission, as an interventionist agency, has a mandate to synergise with the nine Niger Delta states, especially in time of crisis.
The NDDC boss was reacting to those opposed to the decision to grant financial support to the states in the region.
He said: “Having discussed with the different state governments, we didn’t want to duplicate efforts. For instance, we wanted to procure ventilators, but most of the people who say that they can supply the equipment, do not have them in the country.
Read Also: COVID-19: Why NDDC failed to procure ventilators for nine N’Delta states – Pondei
“Again, ventilators are now in short supply even in the United States (U.S). The prices have also skyrocketed. Besides, since the states had made plans to get the ventilators, we thought it was better to support them financially.”
According to him, if the commission was able to procure equipment and drugs, it would still need to hand them over to the states for deployment.
He cited the case of the primary healthcare centres built by the NDDC in different communities, which were not functional today because the states were not carried along.
Pondei said the way forward for Nigeria was to quickly increase the number of testing centres across the country.
He explained that the NDDC initially attempted to procure some equipment and materials to help in the anti-COVID-19 fight, but with the lockdown and the attendant logistic problems, the commission decided to support the states with cash.
“It is not our place to tell them how to build their capacity. Each state knows what their challenges are; they know which facilities they have and which ones they require. The NDDC, in addition to the financial support, is carrying out enlightenment campaigns. We are also extending support to youth and women groups across the states,” Pondei said.