Dr Joi Nunieh, the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has denied grooming ambition to become governor of Rivers State.
She, however, said her target is to revamp the commission to serve the interest of the region and the country.
The acting NDDC stated this on Wednesday in Port Harcourt, during the sensitisation forum by NDDC Staff Cooperative Investment and Credit Society Limited on the establishment of a microfinance bank (MfB).
She pledged to work with the presidency, the National Assembly and other stakeholders to reposition NDDC to achieve the purpose it was set up.
“I am so delighted to be part of this important event that will clearly underline our collective resolve to reposition the NDDC to achieve its core mandate of facilitating the rapid, even and sustainable development of our region into an economically viable, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful part of the Nigerian federation,”.
Nunieh re-stated the resolve of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) to join forces with key stakeholders to challenge powerful forces and systems that held the commission captive and subverted its core objectives. She said that the floating of a microfinance bank was coming at the most auspicious time when hard decisions needed to be taken to reset the trajectory of the NDDC and avoid the backlash of history.
According to her, the initiative will not only touch the lives of NDDC staff but also expand the frontiers of opportunities for the people of the region.
“Now is the time for the good news and it begins right here as we collectively embrace the idea of pulling our resources together to build a platform that will make financial products and services accessible and affordable to individuals and businesses, regardless of personal net worth or business size.
“Microfinance is globally recognised as a key element of development that is not built on handouts and patronage. It is a vital force for unleashing the capacity of people, especially in developing counties, to find lasting solutions to the economic challenges. It engenders financial inclusion and removes the barriers that exclude many people from participating in the financial sector and using the services to improve their lives.
“As we continue working to increase financial inclusion and access to safe, affordable financial services through the establishment of the microfinance bank, we must be reminded of the greater task of building an intervention agency that delivers quality services and infrastructure for our region and our people.”
In line with the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, she said the IMC would supervise the activities of the commission from inception as well as reposition it to deliver on its mandate.
She stated: “The ongoing verification of contracts by the commission is a prelude to the forensic audit ordered by Mr President and I want to assure that as soon as we conclude all the processes, the commission will immediately commence payment to contractors based on the availability of funds.”
Earlier in his address, the president of NDDC Staff Cooperative, Mr Franklin Essien, said that the idea to float the MfB resulted from the need to harness the vast but largely untapped economic potential of the over 1,500 staff of the commission and to provide financial inclusion for many small and medium scale businesses and, most importantly, to capture the unbanked active poor in the region.
A representative of the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mike Baba, commended the cooperative for embarking on the MfB project, noting that the bank was a good platform for the empowerment of the people of the Niger Delta region. He promised that CBN would support the initiative.