The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has decried poor health facilities in the Niger Delta region saying the deplorable situation was a major constraint in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
The acting Managing Director of the commission, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, also observed that the ongoing anti-Coronavirus measures including lockdowns of states contributed in dwindling the economy of the region.
Pondei spoke at the weekend in a brief ceremony organised by the NDDC to begin distribution of medical supplies and relief materials to states in the region to contain the spread of the virus.
It was gathered that the equipment and materials including public enlightenment campaigns were acquired and initiated by the commission as part of its intervention to fight the pandemic in the region.
A statement signed by the Commission’s Director, Corporate Affairs, Charles Odili, said the ceremony was held at the NDDC Warehouse, in 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, and specifically in most states of the Niger Delta region was a major constraint in the fight against covid-19”, the statement said.
Pondei added: “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 explained that the economic wellbeing of the people of the region was further dwindled following the series of lockdowns imposed by both the federal and state governments as a precautionary measure to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
He said 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 healthcare delivery.
He said: “The Commission looks forward to strengthening 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 opportunity for synergy in efforts geared towards providing lasting solution to the socio-economic challenges of the people in the region.”
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.
“All the nine NDDC states were supported with funds. In addition funds were also given to women and youth groups as palliatives”, he said.
He said that the funds given to the states were utilized for the procurement of medical equipment such as special diagnostic equipment, critical care equipment, including ventilators and consumables adding that others were various food items, beverages, sanitary materials and disinfectants.
Pondei said: “Also provided were support needs for the physically challenged, such as wheel chairs and crutches. The funds also cover sensitization and public enlightenment campaign as an important measure to contain the spread of Coronavirus in the Niger Delta region.”
In his remarks, the NDDC Executive Director, Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougbo, said that covid-19 was the most important issue in the world, noting that the commission came up with programmes to curb the spread of the virus.
The Chairman of the NDDC Palliative Committee, Mr. Soboma Jackrich, described the ceremony as a laudable and historic event.
He said: “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.”
The Secretary-General of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities in the Niger Delta, (TROMPCON), Chief Frank Okurakpor, lauded the NDDC, for coming up with the initiatives while describing the commission as an “auxiliary gear that extricated the people 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.
Also, the Amamgada X11 of Rebisi, Eze W. Akarolo, commended the NDDC for its developmental 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 COVID-19 on the lives of vulnerable people in the region.
He said: “My appeal to the management of the NDDC is that we should jettison politics and focus on the development of our people.”