General news

NDDC vows to clampdown on defaulting contractors



The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says it will no longer pay contractors for shoddy and substandard jobs.

Dr Akwagaga Enyia, the Acting Managing Director of NDDC, gave the warning while inspecting the 15-kilometre Ajowa-Akunnu Akoko Road in Ajowa, Akoko North-West Local Government area of Ondo State, on Monday.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the 15-kilometre virgin road being constructed by the NDDC would connect many communities from Ajowa, through Akunnu to Kaaba in Kogi State and Abuja.

The NDDC Chief Executive Officer stressed that there would be no payment for sub-standard jobs, stating that contractors must adhere strictly to agreed specifications.

Enyia, who insisted that the contractor must not compromise on quality, also charged members of the benefitting communities to support the commission by monitoring the project to complement the efforts of NDDC engineers.

“All contractors working for NDDC in the Niger Delta region should know that the days of sub-standard jobs are over. Enough of shoddy and shabby jobs.

“We will no longer tolerate leakages. In the past, roads were built to last for over 20 years. There is no reason why NDDC roads will not last for that long.

“We must have value for money. As we pay contractors; they must go back to site and continue with the task of executing solid roads that will stand the test of time.

“The NDDC is committed to building sustainable infrastructure in the Niger Delta region. We want to build infrastructure that will last for 20 years or more,” she said.

The project manager, Mr Ifeanyi Nwachukwu, explained that his company had deployed the right equipment to ensure that it delivered according to the job specifications for the project.

The Oluro of Uro-Ajowa Akoko, Oba Michael Ipinmoroti, expressed appreciation to the NDDC for what he described as a wonderful project.

He assured that the benefitting communities would monitor the progress of work to ensure that the contractor worked according to specifications.

“So far, the contractors are doing a good job and we will cooperate with them to ensure that the project is completed on schedule.

The NDDC boss also inspected the 7.5 Arigidi Akoko-Okeagbe Road in Arigidi-Akoko Local Government area of the state, where Prince Aliyu Olanipekun, who represented the Zaki of Arigidi, Oba Yisa Olanipekun, thanked the commission for saving them from many years of suffering.


Edited by Muftau Adediran and ‘Wale Sadeeq


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
Source: NAN
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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
Source: NAN
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General news

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
Source: NAN

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CSO urges Buhari to freeze NDDC account



The Act for Positive Transformation Initiative, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), has requested President Muhammadu Buhari to freeze the account of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and suspend all further spending in the commission.

Mr Johnson Kolawale, the Head, Directorate of Research, Strategy and Programme, made the call at a news conference on Monday in Abuja.

He alleged that plans were ongoing to make fraudulent expenditures by top officials in the commission.

Kolawale revealed that the commission had continued to spend funds against due process and against the directive of the President.

According to him, the commission has squandered additional nine billion Naira in the last one month.

“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly and genuine security and anti-corruption agencies to immediately freeze the accounts of the commission and apprehend everyone involved in the continuous scandalous pillaging of the agency’s treasury.

“It gladdens the heart to note that some of the commission’s officials are already refunding part of their loot to government’s recovery coffers.

“The Presidency also pre-emptively disowned the commission’s management over the latter’s impunity in extra budgetary spending yet ongoing.

“However, decisive steps must be taken urgently to end the audacious and unprecedented looting under a government that professes to be fighting corruption.

“After all, we all bear the consequences of the despicable actions of officials in government,” he said.

Kolawale said that in addition to the N1.5 billion already spent on members of staff of the commission as palliatives for COVID-19, another N340 million had been spent for the same reason.

He stressed the need for every member of staff or appointee to refund the monies collected to the commission’s account.

Kolawale said that a look at the nominal roll of the commission confirmed the alleged alarm on secret employment ongoing in the commission.

According to him, the management recently employed no fewer than 50 contract staff without following civil service rules and guidelines.

He said that some of the new intakes were alleged to be without required skills or experience and were placed on assistant director cadre without competence tests or needs assessment.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the NDDC, Mr Charles Odili, has denied the allegations saying that they are not true.

Odili further described the allegations as “a grand plan to inundate the public with a negative narrative”.

“The discerning public is already fatigued with this pattern of unending lies against the commission.

“The NDDC is not recruiting, we are not in the position to do that because the 2020 Budget for the commission has not been approved,” Odili said in a text message sent to the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.

Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Donald Ugwu
Source: NAN
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