The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, says it is making plans to run its postgraduate scholarship programme in Nigerian universities, especially those in the Niger Delta region.
This was disclosed by the NDDC Interim Administrator, Mr Efiong Akwa, during a courtesy visit by a delegation from the University of Port Harcourt, UNIPORT, led by the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Okodudu, at the NDDC permanent headquarters in Port Harcourt.
Akwa, who was reacting to a request by the Vice-Chancellor for another hostel in the university, promised to assist in elevating the educational institutions in the Niger Delta region to make them suitable for the postgraduate programme.
The NDDC boss observed that in an era of Covid-19 pandemic, it was necessary to assist universities to properly and comfortably accommodate students in order to ensure sufficient provision for social distancing in the hostels.
He told the Vice-Chancellor that the university’s request would be taken care of in the 2022 budget of the NDDC, describing UNIPORT as a flagship university in the Niger Delta region.
Akwa advised the university to write formally to the Commission for appropriate budgetary provisions and presentation to the budget committee of the National Assembly.
He expressed confidence that the National Assembly would be willing to accommodate the request since the project would impact the quality of the learning environment, as well as the welfare of the students.
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Akwa noted that the University of Port Harcourt was playing a crucial role in the economy of the South-South region. According to him, “the university has done a whole lot of work in research, engineering and other disciplines, providing data and baseline studies for the good of our country.”
Akwa decried the current dilapidated condition of the existing NDDC hostel in the university, noting that authorities of the institution should take responsibility for management and maintenance of the facility.
He said further: “When we deliver a project and hand over to an institution or community, we also hand over the responsibility of maintaining and managing the project. It is unfortunate that most Nigerian managers don’t take issues of maintaining government facilities seriously. It is regrettable that the university has not effectively managed the hostel for the use of students”.
He advised the university to carry out remedial works on the hostel that has been handed over to them to encourage the NDDC to do more for them.
Speaking earlier, the Acting Vice-Chancellor of UNIPORT, Professor Stephen Okodudu, appealed to the NDDC to assist the university to ease the pressure of accommodation by building another hostel for them.
He said: “The University of Port Harcourt is supposed to be one of the beneficiaries of your intervention efforts as a Commission. We do have a robust relationship with the NDDC but the presence of the Commission in the University is not up to what we expect.”