The Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN Dr Dikko Umaru Radda has reiterated the Agency’s commitment to partner with the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC to achieve its mandate of developing the Niger Delta Region.He disclosed this during a meeting with the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Nsime Nkere at the Agency’s Corporate Headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday. The Director General of SMEDAN commended the Managing Director for identifying and acknowledging the importance of the Agency in helping to actualize the mandate of the Commission. The Director General stated that the Agency was set up to facilitate the development and promotion of MSMEs in Nigeria and the visit of the MD of NDDC to the Agency is highly commendable and apt.
The Director General of SMEDAN added that the Agency was well positioned to create jobs and alleviate poverty in the country and always ready to work with the NDDC in the implementation of its work plan for the development of the Niger Delta region. The Director General of SMEDAN also informed the Managing Director that the Agency has 23 Industrial Development Centers nationwide set up to provide technical manpower for industries in the country and four of these Centers are located in the Niger Delta Region.
He lamented that facilities in the IDCs are dilapidated with most of the equipment obsolete coupled with the problem of land encroachment. The Director General however stated that the Agency received a grant from the African Development Bank (ADB) to study how the IDCs can be turned around to become enterprise clusters. According to the Director General, SMEDAN is planning to convert the IDCs into enterprise clusters where enterprises involved in similar products and activities will be located in the same place with all necessary machines, equipment and trainings provided for them. He equally emphasized that being in the same location makes it easier for regulatory agencies to monitor their performances, for financial institutions to provide loans and help to facilitate linkage to markets for their products and services.
Dr Radda assured the NDDC boss that SMEDAN will collaborate with his commission to see how both institutions can develop the sustainability of the IDCs located in the Niger Delta Region. He said SMEDAN would initiate a proposal that would be beneficial to the Niger Delta region and prayed that that the commission keys into it to develop the region. He further reiterated that SMEDAN has the experience and capacity to assist the NDDC in creating wealth and reducing poverty in the region through effective collaboration to move Nigeria forward. The Director General of SMEDAN condemned the absence of synergy between government agencies and parastatals. In his words “we tend to see ourselves as competitors rather than collaborators”. Dr Radda noted that the NDDC boss’s visit to the Agency was a demonstration of good visionary leadership and assured him of the Agency’s resolve to make him achieve his mandate at NDDC.
The Director General intimated the NDDC Managing Director that that the Agency signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Niger Delta where it trained about 10,000 youths under the Amnesty Programme and the DG was optimistic that the visit of the MD, NDDC will enable the two institutions work more closely.
Earlier the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC Obong Nsime Nkere said he was in SMEDAN to see how both Agencies can work together by exploring ways of bringing meaningful development to the people of the Niger Delta Region.
He said the challenges been faced in the Niger Delta region is that over 70 per cent of the land mass is below water level making it difficult and very expensive to build infrastructure.
The Managing Director said the only paramount thing for the NDDC is to see how they can tackle unemployment, poverty, youth restiveness and other vices. He added by saying that “one of the major causes of insecurity in our terrain is poverty and unemployment and that is why we are here, because we believe SMEDAN is strategically located to assist us”.
Ekere said he strongly believes that SMEDAN will be able to assist NDDC to develop specific programmes relating to entrepreneurship that will be sustainable and create jobs for the regions teeming unemployed youths, so that our economy will grow and reduce the rate of youth restiveness in the region.