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The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has been ordered to restart its scholarship programme after it was suspended a number of years ago by the federal legislator through its Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Umana.
According to reports, Umana issued the order during a weekend retreat in Abuja for senior staff members of the NDDC and the Niger Delta Ministry that lasted two days.
According to a ministry official who requested anonymity, Umana vehemently resisted suggestions that the programme be abandoned and insisted that it would be continued, expanded, and improved in order to root out all types of corruption in the system.
The source said Umana wanted a scholarship scheme that would be home driven with a special focus on Nigerian universities.
“The idea is to retain the scheme and make it home-based instead of the usual practice of sending beneficiaries abroad to study courses offered in Nigerian universities.
“Foreign scholarship schemes will not be totally removed. But it will be de-emphasised. Niger Delta students will no longer be sent abroad to study courses offered in Nigerian universities.
“The commission can only sponsor interested scholars overseas to study only special courses that are not found in our universities. Therefore, Umana has ordered the commission to review and relaunch the scholarship scheme.”
The source said other far-reaching decisions were taken at the retreat to reposition the NDDC in harmony with the recommendations of the forensic audit report.
He said it was resolved that NDDC would henceforth streamline its projects against the current practice of awarding many jobs in one fiscal year.
“Henceforth, the NDDC will work closely with the National Assembly to ensure that projects are streamlined. Projects that had been completed would be inaugurated and the commission will also stop issuing emergency contracts”, he said.
He said there was also hope for the contractors, who had finished their jobs but had yet to receive their money as a decision was reached that the commission should focus on clearing its debts.
The source said:-
“It was also agreed that the NDDC should cancel all projects that had been awarded but the contractors refused to mobilise to their sites. The money for such projects will now be used to complete other abandoned projects.
“The forensic audit report is being implemented in phases. The area that concerned the National Assembly had been sent to the lawmakers. The areas that concern the anti-graft agency have also been directed to them.
“A staff audit has also been ordered to ensure proper placement of workers and retirement of those directors due for retirement. The Niger Delta stakeholders should expect a new NDDC that responds to their yearnings under the current minister”, he said.