The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, and Builders Hub Impact Investment Programme, BHIIP, for the establishment of Nigeria’s first and grandest enterprise innovation and growth hub.
According to press statement released in Port Harcourt,on Thursday by NDDC’S Director of Corporate Affairs, Mr. Ibitoye Abosede, the tripartite agreement, which kick-starts the investment hub project, was signed yesterday during a meeting at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt between the NDDC, SMEDAN and BHIIP. The engagement with BHIIP will facilitate the establishment of Nigeria’s first enterprise innovation and incubation hub.
The NDDC Managing Director, Mr. Nsima Ekere, said that the meeting was a follow up to a previous engagement with Director-General of SMEDAN, Dr Dikko Radda, at his office in Abuja.
Ekere said that the partnership with SMEDAN was one way of proving to Nigerians that inter-agency collaboration and synergy could work. He said: “We have different kinds of agencies and initiatives in this country with different and specified core mandates and I believe that if all of them can come together, it would be for the good of all. I believe that NDDC and SMEDAN are setting an example for Nigeria.
The NDDC boss added: “I am in a hurry. We can’t wait to create more jobs for the people of the Niger Delta. We want to fight unemployment, we want to fight poverty, we want to fight restiveness and this is one way we can use to ensure that militancy is eradicated in the Niger Delta.
“I believe that we can create new jobs for our people, we can build the economy of the Niger Delta, but more importantly, we want to ensure that the youths are engaged. If the youths are engaged on a daily basis, there won’t be time for them to be planning mischief.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that the enterprise hub would help the youths in so many different ways. He stressed; “We must get this running in the shortest possible time. We have made provisions in our budget and I think that in the next one or two months, we will have sufficient budgetary provision for the take-off.”
“The idea is that we will start with one of the IDC’s owned by SMEDAN in the Niger Delta but ultimately, our intension is to see that all the IDC’s owned by SMEDAN in the Niger Delta region are revamped and revitalized. And we must pay particular attention to our women and youths.”
The Director-General of SMEDAN, Dr Radda said that the agency was well positioned to create jobs and alleviate poverty in the country and always ready to work with the NDDC in the implementation of its work plan for the development of the Niger Delta region. He also said that SMEDAN had 23 Industrial Development Centers, IDC, nationwide and four of the centers were located in the Niger Delta.
Dr Radda lamented that facilities in the IDCs were dilapidated with most of the equipment obsolete, coupled with the problem of land encroachment. According to the Director General, SMEDAN was planning to convert the IDCs into enterprise clusters where enterprises involved in similar products and activities will be located in the same place with all necessary machines, equipment and trainings provided for them.
The DG stated that SMEDAN was set up to facilitate the development and promotion of MSMEs in Nigeria by stimulating, monitoring and coordinating the development the sector.
The Director-General commended the Managing Director for identifying and acknowledging the importance of the agency in helping to actualize the mandate of the Commission.
Making a presentation, the Chief Executive Officer of BHIIP, Barr, Natasha Akpote, emphasized the need to stimulate indigenous innovations. She said that Nigeria would be better served having more entrepreneurs than academics, noting that the future lay with entrepreneurship.
Akpote said: “we will focus on areas where training expertise can create more jobs.’ She said that the essence of the enterprise hub is not just to assist youths in business start-ups but to also provide support for survival and growth.
Earlier, the NDDC Director, Commercial and Industrial Development, Mr Anietie Usen, said that the concept of growth pole was captured in the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan. According to him “the concept has become more academic than real. It has just been paper work. So, we are here to change paper work into hard work.”