The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has assured officials of
Ritman University, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, of partnership in setting
up a youth development centre in the university.
The NDDC Managing Director, Mr. Nsima Ekere, gave the assurance when the
Founder of the university, Senator Ibok Essien and the Vice Chancellor,
Professor Celestine Ntuen paid him a courtesy visit in his office at the
Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.
Ekere noted that the vision of the university, with respect to developing
the capacity of students to be self-starters, tallied with that of the
NDDC, stating that it was important that young people were given quality
education that would prepare them to be self-employed.
He said: “We must be concerned about the quality of education that we are
giving to our youths in the Niger Delta. This is a region that is beset
with a lot of difficulties and challenges. Youth restiveness is very common
in the region and unemployment has reached alarming proportions.”
Ekere said that the plan for a youth development centre was the kind of
contribution that would teach the young ones how to be entrepreneurs and
employers of labour. According to him, “it keys into the vision of the
current board and management of the NDDC.”
He said that experience had shown that there was need to develop a special
kind of programme that would lead to sustainable livelihood for the youths.
“We had trained 23,000 people over the years and they were given starter
packs. Unfortunately, some of them sell the starter packs and return to the
ranks of the unemployed,” he said.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that one of the ways the Commission
was tackling the problem was through the establishment of enterprise hubs,
for which it was partnering with the Small and Medium Enterprises
Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN.
He observed that SMEDAN had 23 Industrial Development Centers, IDCs,
nationwide and four of the centers were located in the Niger Delta.
However, he regretted that all the centres had since closed down.
Ekere stated that NDDC recently signed an agreement with SMEDAN to convert
the IDCs to enterprise hubs and innovation centres because the region was
blessed with the best of brains. He added: “The idea is that we will start
with one of the IDC’s in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, but ultimately, our
intension is to see that all the IDCs owned by SMEDAN in the Niger Delta
region are revamped and revitalized.”
The NDDC boss stressed the need to prepare the youths to face the new world
and be competitive with graduates from all over the world.
“We are collaborating with a Silicon Valley-based organization called the
Digital Learning Network and they are coming with partners like Microsoft. The
idea is to replace the hardcopy textbooks that we have in primary and
secondary schools, convert them into digital formats,” Ekere said, pointing
out that the project would revolutionize education and learning in the
entire Niger-Delta Region.
According to him, each student in the secondary and primary schools would
be given tablets and laptops that would contain all the textbooks that they
need and all the learning instructions and manuals.
Earlier, the Founder of Ritman University, Senator Essien, expressed
satisfaction with the development efforts of the NDDC over the past 18
years. He stated: “The region which was hitherto abandoned has been made to
come alive with the numerous infrastructure and human capital development
spread all over the region.”
He appealed to the Federal Government to release the outstanding funds owed
the NDDC to enable it continue to execute its development projects across
In his presentation, the Vice Chancellor, Prof Celestine Ntuen, said that
Ritman University was determined to change the character of teaching and
learning in the country. “We want train students with creative ideas and
impart the right type of education which will make them self-starters,” he
The Vice Chancellor said that the goal of the university was to train men
and women who would transform Nigeria. He added: “We want to help in
building a skilled workforce for our industries. We need to develop
functional citizens to help in reducing restiveness. We want to produce
graduates that will add value to the society.”