By Henry Umoru
European Commission (EC) has concluded arrangements to spend a total ofÂ 45.5 million (about N9.2 billion) on new micro projects programme in nine states of the Niger Delta region (MPP9), just as the team and that of the Federal government will visit Rivers State 14 August 2009 to discuss the implementation of the programme.
A statement from the Commission in Abuja on Wednesday noted that the micro projects programme which is funded by the European Union (EU), has its head office in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, adding that the objective of the programme is to accelerate social and economic development as well as assist in resolving the Niger DeltaÂ conflicts.
â€œMembers of the team include Mr. Ramon Maria Reigada Granda, the Head of Rural, Social, Health and Water and Sanitation Unit of the Delegation of the European Commission to Nigeria; and Professor Sylvester Monye, Secretary to the National Planning Commission; others are Ms. Maryam Abdu, the Project Officer, Rural and Social Development (EC Delegation), Mr. A.A Taiwo, Deputy Director International Cooperation Development and Mr Ibrahim Abubakar, MPP9 Desk Officer (NPC).
â€œThe EC and government officials will hold talks with the representative of the Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency, Rotimi Amaechi, and other officials on various issues regarding the micro projects programme. Specifically, the officials will use the opportunity to discuss, among other things, a Memorandum of Understanding with states on the implementation modalities with Local Government Areas (LGAs).
â€œThe European Union (EU) approved the MPP9 programme in September 2008, to support the Niger Delta Communities â€“ after the successful conclusion of the earlier MPP3 and MPP6 programmes. The aim of the project is to institute reforms, resulting in Local Government and State Authorities increasingly providing infrastructural services, income generating options, sustainable livelihoods development, gender equity and community empowerment, through offering models of transparency and participation.
â€œThe programme is financed by the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU) under the 9th European Development Fund (EDF). It is managed by the National Planning Commission in partnership with the European Commission Delegation to Nigeria. The programme will focus on supporting the reform processes of government to ensure a transparent and accountable poverty reduction process and thus enhancing effective and efficient service delivery to the citizenry at the grassrootsâ€, the statement reads.