By  Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURT—NIGER Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and First Bank Plc are to collaborate to address development challenges in the Niger Delta.

The new Group Managing Director of First Bank, Mr. Onasanya, said the bank opted for this partnership when it realized that the success of the commission in its mandate for the region would mean a positive impact on the economic life of the country.

According to Onasanya, the region at the moment provides the mainstay of the nation’s economy, and so steps should be taken to ensure the area is calm and developed.

Assuring that as a frontline financial institution in the country, the bank would continue to partner with the commission to succeed, Onasanya charged the board to strive to meet the expectations of the people

“Ëxpectations are high. At one point, we will leave but we should be able to look back and be satisfied with our roles in the region. And if we put our acts together, we can attract more funds to the commission,” he said.

An elated Managing Director of the Commission, Mr. Chibuzor Ugwoha, lamented the deplorable situation and poverty in the region.

Noting that it was sad that a region with so much resource was living in squalor and misery, Ugwoha, however, said it was time to evolve measures to address some of these challenges.

He said the commission was looking at a new Niger Delta where most of these problems would be a thing of the past.
According to him, this will be made possible when problems, such as unemployment, which is one of the biggest challenges in the area, were addressed.

He urged First Bank to collaborate with the commission in tackling the challenges of unemployment through provision of micro credit scheme for people as well as direct employment of capable hands from the region by the bank.

He said: “Ünemployment is the biggest problem in the Niger Delta. The solution is empowerment. We think First Bank can collaborate with us in this youth empowerment.

“We have a micro credit scheme and we heard First Bank has. Contract financing is another area we can partner.”

The NDDC boss also appealed to the bank and the United Bank of Africa (UBA) to ensure Niger Deltans access the N200 billion recently released by the Central Bank of Nigeria to the two banks to promote entrepreneurship.

Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Pastor Power Aginighan, in his remark assured that the new board of the NDDC would leave the region better than it met it.

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