From Fred Itua, Abuja 

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), on Monday, revealed that it has begun the construction of a multipurpose emergency shelter designed to serve as a refuge during flood emergencies in the Niger Delta region.

Managing Director of NDDC, Samuel Ogbuku made this known on Monday in Abuja while defending the commission’s 2024 budget estimate of N1.911 trillion before the Senate Committee on NDDC.

In his presentation, Ogbuku said from the proposed 2024 budget, N38.5 billion is for personnel, while N29.2 billion is for overhead and N1 trillion is earmarked for legacy projects

He said the multipurpose emergency shelter, which was a flagship of NDDC’s present administration with a capacity of over 1,000 accommodations, was designed to serve as a refuge during flood emergencies.

“In a response to the frequent flooding challenges faced by Niger Deltans, we have commenced construction of Multipurpose Emergency Shelter with a capacity of over 1000 accommodations, designed to serve as a refuge during flood emergencies. 

“The facility includes essential amenities such as a school, hospital, cafeteria, police post, and recreation center, aimed at providing comprehensive support to the community,” he said.

He said once completed, the multipurpose emergency shelter would play a vital role in offering temporary accommodation and necessary services to the population in the event of emergencies in the region. 

“The NDDC’s proactive approach in addressing the needs of the affected communities through such initiatives underscores the Commission’s commitment to enhancing emergency response and resilience in the Niger Delta region,” he added.

Ogbuku further said that in the area of infrastructure, the commission has come up with “Operation Light Up Niger Delta Region”.

He said: “This has seen a reasonable number of the communities being lit up using solar powered street lights, which have boosted the economic activities of communities at night.

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“In education, we have awarded foreign scholarships to 750 individuals between 2023-2024 (for 2022, 2023 and 2024 years) and provided educational grants to 84 individuals. 

“Additionally, we are distributing 45, 000 Ulesson tablets preloaded with Nigerian and WAEC syllabus to schools in the nine states in the niger delta region.”

He said the commission had commissioned a programme to enable enrolment of poor and vulnerable people into the various Social Health Insurance Schemes of the nine NDDC states.

This, he said was in view of the prevailing poor health indices of the country and particularly the region.

“This is to also facilitate easy access to essential health and social services towards Universal Health Coverage,” he said.

Ogbuku said the commission was working toward completion of some ongoing projects in line with President Bola Tinubu’s directive.

He also said that his administration was committed to payment of legacy debts because “we are committed to the welfare of our people in the niger delta”.

He said that N100 billion was earmarked to begin payment of legacy debts adding that in 10 years time, the commission would have offset the legacy debts.

Chairman of the Senate Committee, Asuquo Ekpenyong, while noting that although the budget was brought late, NDDC has recorded salient achievements like ‘light up Niger Delta’.

“I hope that the 2024 budget will consolidate on already existing projects. I commend the NDDC’s scholarship programme,” he said.

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