By Ernest Chinwo
The acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, has lamented that the poor state of health facilities in the country, especially in the Niger Delta region, was a major constraint in the fight against COVID-19.
This is as the NDDC kicked-off the distribution of medical supplies, relief materials and public enlightenment campaign to contain the spread of Coronavirus across the region.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony at the NDDC Warehouse, Port Harcourt yesterday, Pondei said the pandemic had also taken its toll on businesses and the economy because of restrictions.
He said: “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.”
Pondei noted that the economic well-being of the people of the region was further dwindled due to the series of lockdowns being imposed by both the federal and state governments as a precautionary measure to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer stated 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, adding: “The Commission looks forward to strengthening relationship with the states in the region in the area of health care 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, stating: “All the nine NDDC states were supported with funds.
In addition, funds were also given to women and youth groups as palliatives.”
He said the funds given to the states were utilised for the procurement of medical equipment such as special diagnostic equipment, critical care equipment, including ventilators and consumables. Others, he said, 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 sensitisation and public enlightenment campaign as an important measure to contain the spread of Coronavirus in the Niger Delta region.”
In his own remarks, the NDDC Executive Director, Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougbo, said that covid-19 was the most important issue in the world today, noting that the Commission had come up with programmes to curb the spread of the virus.
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 extricates 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.