Officials of NDDC and SMEDAN

The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC Mr. Nsima Ekere has revealed plans by the commission to convert the Industrial Development Centres set up by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria SMEDAN to enterprises hub.

Ekere made the declaration when the officials of Ritman University, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State paid him a courtesy call in his office at the commission headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

He proposed the setting up of a youth development centre in the University in order to develop the capacity of students to be self-starters. According to him, “We must be concerned about the quality of education that we are giving to our youths in the Niger Delta. This is a region that is beset with a lot of difficulties and challenges. Youth restiveness is very common in the region and unemployment has reached alarming proportions.”

Sounding on the need to focus on enterprise centres or entrepreneur hubs the NDDC helmsman said there are presently about 23 of Industrial Development centres all over the country set up years ago by SMEDAN and 4 out of these lots are located in the Niger Delta Region. Therefore the commission intends to utilize the four centres in the region to kick-start the training, development, and empowerment of the youths in the region by converting them to enterprise hubs.

Ekere said the commission would partner with SMEDAN to actualize this vision since they have sufficient experience and expertise in youth development and training. He revealed that the NDDC has signed an agreement with SMEDAN all ready to take over the industrial development centres in the Niger Delta region and turn them into enterprises hub.

According to Ekere, the industrial development centres hitherto set up by SMEDAN are moribund hence the commission will be doing them a favour by taking them over.

Nsima Ekere M D NDDC

While explaining why most youths training and empowerment programme does not work. Ekere said that experience had shown that there was the need to develop a special kind of programme that would lead to sustainable livelihood for the youths. “We had trained 23,000 people over the years and they were given starter packs. Unfortunately, some of them sell the starter packs and return to the ranks of the unemployed,” he said.

This experience is what informed the commission’s change of tactics and strategy in youth’s development. This is also why the commission is partnering with SMEDAN in getting youths trained and empowered in the enterprise hub about to be launched to replace the industrial centres.

Ekere disclosed that a pilot enterprise hub will commence in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital to test run the new vision and idea before other centres are brought on stream.

He promised that all SMEDAN owned industrial centres would be rehabilitated and remodeled to attain the expected results emphasizing that the vision of the commission is to train the youths on how to be entrepreneurs and employers of labour.