The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has assured that it will set up a N2.5 billion export development fund in conjunction with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, NEXIM.
This was announced by the NDDC Managing Director, Nsima Ekere, when a delegation from the NEXIM Bank paid him a courtesy visit at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
Ekere said that the NDDC, as an interventionist agency, needed to leverage on NEXIM Bank to tackle the challenges of creating jobs and building sustainable development programmes. He decried a situation where youths of the Niger Delta were often left without hope, stating: “We need to give the youths hope through providing opportunities for them.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that the Commission had built a lot of infrastructure but must also develop the human capital in the region. “That is why we are going to partner with NEXIM Bank to develop a regional export market which provides new opportunities for our people,” he said.
Ekere noted that the Niger Delta region had over the years provided a greater percentage of the revenue sustaining the country. He added: “There is no better place than the Niger Delta to prepare for the diversification of the country’s economy. Now that revenue from oil has started dwindling, this is the right time to begin to create opportunities for the people in the non-oil sector.”
He assured that the NDDC would set up a technical team to work out the modalities for setting up hubs for regional exports in the Niger Delta. According to him, “the region is blessed with a lot of agricultural products that can be developed for export. We have rubber, palm oil, cashew nuts, shrimps that can be developed to keep the youths gainfully employed as well as generating foreign exchange for the country.”
Ekere declared: “We are now doing things differently by using the the 4-R initiative to add value to the process of the Commission. Through the new initiative, we have structured our processes to make them transparent. Hence, we are restructuring the balance sheet; reforming the governance protocols; restoring the Commission’s core mandate and reaffirming its commitment to doing what is right and proper.”
He said that the Commission had entered into agreements with several international and local partners, noting that the collaboration with NEXIM Bank would be an addition to the existing ones.
The executive Director Business Development of NEXIM Bank, Hon Stella Okotete, stressed the important of building a platform for viable export markets for the Niger delta region, adding that there was need to create awareness for a regional export initiative.