EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. David MacRae
The European Union (EU) has said it would embark on a new development programme valued at N9.23 billion (€45 million) for the Niger Delta region.
It said the initiative titled ‘Niger Delta Support Programme’ (NDSP) would be funded from the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) and would be in direct pursuit of interventions identified under the Micro-Projects Programme in nine Niger delta states (MPP9) of the union.
The EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. David MacRae, disclosed this in Port Harcourt yesterday at the launch MPP9 implementation in Rivers State.
MacRae said under the MPP9 programme, the Union handled 100 micro-projects while the NDSP would implement additional 82 projects in Rivers state alone.
“Today, we are launching the commencement of 100 micro projects here in Rivers state alone covering the construction of 28 water projects, 25 educational blocks, 25 civic centres, 17 mixed (open and locked up) markets, 5 agro-processing mills (cassava and palm oil). The EDF contribution to these projects is estimated at over N500 million,” he said.
He added, “Let me reiterate that the EU is a partner with the Niger Delta region on development issues because we believe that the region matters in many respects, not least in the stability but also for the prosperity of the nation as a whole. The progress towards good governance and democracy is very encouraging and we hope that working with the state and local government area administrations will continue far into the future, bringing along with it mutual benefits, growth and development in all ramifications to all stakeholders.”
In his speech, the Minister of National Planning and Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman, emphasised the need for quality assurance on the projects in line with the aspirations and expectations of the States involved.
Usman, who was represented by the Executive Secretary of NPC, Mr. Fidel Ugbo, said the MPP9 was an EU-FG intervention programme that covered all the nine Niger Delta states, aimed at “reducing poverty in the rural and sub-urban communities in the region, through the promotion of gender equality and participation in local governance and development, transparency”, among others.
According to him, the financing agreement for the programme was signed in 2008 with a total budgetary allocation of €71.5 million.
“The EU is to provide €45.5 million of this amount, while the beneficiaries are to provide the balance of €26 million as a mark of commitment and ownership,” he said.
Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, in his address said his administration would continue to partner the EU in its efforts at transforming the living standards of the rural poor and the less-privileged in the society.
Amaechi, who was represented by his deputy, Mr. Tele Ikuru, said the MPP9 would fast-track development at the grassroots, describing the projects as “community-based”.
He assured the EU of his administration's support, but stressed that the state had set a minimum standard, especially for primary schools and expressed the willingness of the state to intervene to ensure that all projects met the state’s standards.