Deputy Speaker of the Cross River House of Assembly, Mr Joseph Bassey has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for ordering a forensic audit of the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission from 2001 to 2019.
Bassey, who spoke in an interview with Nigeria News Agency on Friday in Calabar, urged the president not to relent in prosecuting the offenders after the audit exercise.
He lamented the poor state of rural development in the South South region, adding that some few individuals had looted what was supposed to bring collective development to the people.
According to him, the Calabar-Itu-Akwa Ibom Federal Highway is in need of urgent intervention from the Federal Government.
“From the time past, we have had Chairmen and Managing Directors of NDDC from Cross River and Akwa Ibom states and the volume of budgets have been high.
“It is sad that the only road that connects the two sister states is still in a state of decay years after years because some few individuals have taken what belongs to the people.
“I strongly commend Mr President for ordering the audit of the commission. Also, I want to commend the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, for standing firm to that.
“However, I am soliciting for the immediate intervention of the Calabar-Itu road because as we speak, a journey from Calabar to Akwa Ibom that ordinarily should be for an hour is now five hours.
“The establishment of the Commission was to make life meaningful for the people of South South. But some individuals who lack conscience have looted the resources for their personal benefit,” he said.
Bassey alleged that the South South region has the worst road network in the country due to the greed of few individuals, adding that the culprits should be sent to jail after the audit.
“This is not time for PDP or APC, this is above party affiliation because both politicians and non politicians pass on that road.
“The economy of both states has been affected by this very particular road. I want to urge the President to start the audit immediately.
“I pity the common man on the street. As a politician, I feel very guilty passing through that road because you cannot drive for a minute without falling into a major ditch.
“I don’t think anybody who has been in NDDC and was given resources to do that road should be forgiven because most of them are flying around and building houses with the funds,” he said.
He urged South South indigenes to support Akpabio in his drive to ensure speedy development in the region, adding that all forms of distraction towards him should be discouraged.
He suggested that when the funds are recovered from the audit, the focus should also be on immediate rehabilitation of roads in the South South, especially the Calabar-Itu road.
Edited by Ismail Abdulazizhttps://nnn.ng/nddc-audit-deputy-speaker-urges-buhari-to-prosecute-offenders/
StudyFree to help 8 Nigerian students continue studies abroad
An Edtech startup, StudyFree, says it has finalised plans to assist eight scholars of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) who were denied scholarship funding to continue their studies abroad.
The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of StudyFree, Dasha Kroshkina, made this known in a statement signed by Mr Raymond Osheku, Country Manager of StudyFree, in Lagos on Thursday.
“StudyFree is an international Edtech startup founded in 2018 to help students to study abroad for free with the help of grants and scholarships through an online platform,’’ Kroshkina said
She said that the platform had established an initiative that would assist Nigerian students to find programmes with scholarships.
“StudyFree has established an initiative to help eight NDDC scholars to continue their path abroad.
“For those successful students who did not receive the funding from NDDC, StudyFree has provided them access to its platform to help them find programmes with scholarships abroad.
“It also facilitates their access to relevant information that will assist to prepare them for the application processes,” the founder said.
Kroshkina also said that there was a huge gap between ambitious African students who were ready for success and what the continent could offer.
The founder said her experience growing up in Russia was similar to the average Nigerian student, who hoped for a better education, but was restrained from studying abroad due to limited finances.
“Thus, I founded my startup ‘StudyFree’ to assist ambitious and goal-seeking students to realise their dreams- study abroad for free with the help of grants and scholarships.
Kroshkina said she combined her international expertise and entrepreneurial thinking to launch the platform that offered programmes from Bachelor’s Degree to PhD around the globe.
“When StudyFree became the Seedstar winner, our team focussed on the developing markets.
“However, among other developing regions, our choice fell on Nigeria as we found out that this country is rich with talented youths.
“Our goal is to help students who don’t have opportunities to study abroad, but who possess strong motivation and aspiration,” she said.
Kroshkina said that StudyFree had been holding interviews for over 150 Nigerian students who had zeal to study unlike other countries where students considered studying abroad as an opportunity to move.
The founder said: “In recent months, we held more than 150 interviews with Nigerian students. Our team was inspired by their sincere motivation to study.
“It’s worth mentioning that in other countries, students consider education abroad as an opportunity to move.
“Whereas in African regions, students want to accumulate state-of-the-art knowledge and come back to their home country to drive change, develop their regions, and give their experience back to the community.
“When our team hears such inspiring stories of African students, we’re especially glad to make the Nigerian market our major focus.’’
Kroshkina said explained that another great reason why we choose to focus on Nigerian market was the fact that Africa is a fast-developing continent.
“If China and India surprised people with their economic breakthrough, African market holds much potential.
“That is why if we give Nigerian students a chance to gain good education abroad, they will come back to their country with high-quality education and will expand business opportunities in Nigeria, developing the market,” she said.
Kroshkina said that 25 local ambassadors from Nigeria and South Africa were part of the StudyFree team to promote the values of equal, quality and free education and open doors to the world of opportunities for every Nigerian who were eager to fulfill their education dreams.
She said that under the initiative, students’ success rate was 98 per cent.
“Currently, StudyFree has over 25,000 active users and operates in developing markets, such as Russia, Ukraine, Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
“StudyFree was accepted for accelerator programmes by Berkeley SkyDeck and TechStars NYC.
“We’re focussed on diverse opportunities, not only for students, but also for the team. Our team is 80 per cent female and operates throughout the world, from Europe to Asia,” she added.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Olagoke Olatoye
Rep’s C’ttee on NDDC hosts Akpabio in closed-door meeting
The House of Representatives’ Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), on Tuesday, hosted the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio to a closed-door meeting for over three hours.
The meeting, which held in the office of Mr Olubumi Tunji-Ojo, the Committee Chairman at the National Assembly Complex, began at about 3.30 p.m. and ended at about 7.00 p.m.
Akpabio had earlier visited the acting Clerk of the National Assembly (CNA), Mr Olatunde Ojo to congratulate him on his appointments.
Speaking to journalists earlier, Akpabio said that he was also at the National Assembly to further boost the cordial relation between the Executive and the Legislature.
“I am here to congratulate the acting CNA for his elevation and, of course, to solicit the continuous cooperation of the National Assembly toward the development of the Niger Delta region,’’ the minister said.
He said that the National Assembly was supposed to resume today but “it had been postponed’’.
He said as soon as the lawmakers resumed, he would come to the National assembly “as part of my effort to support the President’s decision that there must be cordial relationship between the Executive and the Legislature’’.
“In fact, the president recently set up a tripartite committee made up of the party (APC), the National Assembly and the Executive to ensure oneness because we are running one government and it is important that we remember that in all we do, we want to leave a legacy for Nigeria.
“We cannot do that if all the arms of government are not cooperating.
“So far, I believe that whatever disagreement that could have occurred between my ministry and the National Assembly must have been as a result of mischief.
“And that mischief must be put to rest so that we can work in one accord for the sake of the nation,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that the committee on NDDC had probed the activities of the commission and the involvement of the minister.
The committee’s report on the outcome of the investigation would be submitted to the house for further consideration and recommendations upon resumption.
Edited By: Benson Iziama/Abdulfatah Babatunde
NAPPS designning nose masks for children in nursery classes
The National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), says that the association is designing nose masks that will be suitable for pupils in nursery classes for easy breathing, as schools prepare for reopening.
Mr Yomi Otubela, National President of the association made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Friday.
Otubela said that the development was necessary as the use of face shield was not sufficient for the protection of children against the COVID-19 virus.
According to him, teachers were also equipped and trained by the representatives of NDDC, to assist the children to keep safe.
“In as much as face shield is not sufficient to combat the spread of the virus, we know that those in the nursery classes could have difficulty in using the nose mask.
“We have spoken to our fashion designers to sew nose masks that can give space between the nose that will allow for easy breathing and in addition to that, also use the face shield.
“So, we are more than ready and the good news to confirm the fact that both private and public schools are ready was the reopening of schools for WAEC examinations by the government,” he said.
The president noted that in as much as the country was able to tackle the Ebola crisis, the Coronavirus would also be a thing of the past.
Otubela, however, said most private schools would not face the challenge of observing physical distancing due to their population.
“We have faced this before during the period of Ebola crisis and we were able to contain it.
“For this COVID-19, once we are able to put the protocols to combat the virus in place, children can resume school.
“The Federal and State Governments have come up with safe reopening guidelines; all our members have been equipped with safe public guideline documents to put their school in place.
“The major thing there is the fact that children should wash their hands on arrival at school and they should avoid putting their hands in the mouth and nose and also to ensure that there is a physical distancing among children.
“Teachers are also equipped and trained by the representatives of NDDC, who had exposed them to what they need to do as a teacher,’’ he said.
Otubela added that schools with large population would have to stagger the resumption of children, saying that while some would resume in the morning, spend three hours, others would resume in the afternoon and spend three hours.
He, therefore, explained that the schools had prepared isolation centres for unforeseen cases after resumption.
Otubela pledged the readiness of teachers and school owners to comply with safety protocols and COVID-19 related guidelines to reduce the chance of infection.
Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Felix Ajide