AN ADDRESS BY THE ACTING MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE NIGER DELTA DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION (NDDC), GBENE DR. JOI NUNIEH DURING THE SENSITISATION FORUM ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NDDC CO-OPERATIVE MICRO FINANCE BANK ON JANUARY 29, 2020
I am so delighted to be a 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 and ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful part of the Nigerian Federation.
I must thank the Almighty God for making us to be a part of this move aimed at not only touching the lives of each and every member of staff of our Commission but also expanding the frontiers of opportunity for the people of our region.
I am aware of the tireless work done by the leadership of our Staff Cooperative Society, the relevant officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria and other key stakeholders in making this day a reality and I want to say, thank you.
This Forum is coming at the most auspicious time when we must take hard decisions to reset the trajectory of the NDDC or risk the backlash of history.
We have had enough bashing from the people and the media for failing to take the right decisions to put our region and our people first.
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 recognized 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.
It is, therefore, gratifying to note that NDDC Staff Cooperative which was formed in 2008 has been promoting commercial ventures and activities that have greatly improved the welfare of its members.
Over the years, the Cooperative has embarked on various programmes and projects including staff loan scheme, table water production, investment in real estate and now microfinance banking.
The investment in a housing scheme for staff remains one of the landmark achievements of the Cooperative. Over 70 hectares of land were acquired in some states of the region for an ambitious staff housing scheme. Currently, the Cooperative is collaborating with a real estate developer, Family Home Funds, to deliver houses for staff.
As part of measure to expand its investment portfolio, the Cooperative in collaboration with the Niger Delta Basin Development Authority, Port Harcourt, is producing table water under the brand name, Oyster. I am told the volume of sales has been quite encouraging.
Today, we are gathered here to create a landmark consensus on the need for us to establish a Microfinance Bank that will not only carter for the financial needs of staff of the Commission alone, but also serve the interest of people in the region.
Already, the Cooperative is working hard to meet the Central Bank of Nigeria’s requirements and framework for establishing the bank.
However, with the upward review of the minimum capital requirement for licensed one unit MFBs in Nigeria from N20,000,000.00 (Twenty Million Naira) to N200,000,000.00 (Two Hundred Million Naira), the Cooperative is initiating a process of selling shares to interested members to cover the short fall in the capital requirement.
Permit me to put on record that the NDDC Staff Microfinance Bank will be incorporated as a subsidiary of NDDC Staff Investment & Credit Society Limited.
This implies that the Co-operative will always retain a controlling interest of a minimum of 60% of the total share structure of the bank, while the balance will constitute minority interest equity-holdings.
The idea to float the microfinance bank resulted from the need to harness the vast but largely untapped economic potentials of the over 1500 staff of our Commission and to provide financial inclusion for many small and medium scale businesses and most importantly, to capture the unbanked active poor in our region.
The proposed bank is also intended to complement the various tiers of government’s efforts at poverty alleviation for the poorest of the poor in the Nigerian society.
On behalf of the Interim Management Committee, I wish to congratulate the leadership of the NDDC Staff Cooperative and the entire staff of the Commission for this laudable initiative.
Management will give all the necessary support to ensure the success of this bold attempt to improve the welfare and financial status of Staff and people of the Region.
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.
We must brace to challenge powerful forces and systems that have held the Commission captive and subverted the core objectives for which the NDDC was established.
On our part, the Interim Management Committee will work assiduously with the Presidency, the National Assembly and other key stakeholders to reshape and reposition the Commission to service the interest of the region and country.
Permit me to use this medium to send words to the leadership and members of the National Assembly that the Interim Management Committee of the Commission under my leadership holds them in very high esteem and have not and will never do anything to undermine their constitutional duties.
In line with the directive of Mr. President, our task is to supervise the audit of the activities of the Commission from its inception as well as reposition it to deliver on its mandate.
While doing that, we cannot close down the Commission and throw out staff and millions of people whose source of livelihood depends on our services into needless suffering.
The ongoing verification of contracts by the commission is a prelude to the forensic audit ordered my 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 availability of funds.
However, we strongly advise contractors, consultants, vendors, suppliers or their certified representatives to proceed to the respective state offices depending on where their projects, programmes and or services were rendered to verify their financial claims.
Equally, all NGOs doing business with the Commission and which have outstanding financial claims should proceed to the Rivers State office where a special team is handling their verification.
The verification which began on January 20, 2020 is FREE OF CHARGE and no member of staff of the NDDC is authorized to verify projects as the ongoing exercise is meant for contract verification only.
I must reiterate that contractors, consultants, vendors, suppliers and NGOs who do not turn up for the verification would be deemed not to have legitimate claims and will, therefore, not be paid by the Commission.
The era of using the NDDC as an alternate government in the region is over. We will respect the rule of law and due process and that is why we are calling our state governors and other stakeholder to collaborate with us so we can collectively work to make our region a better place for all.
I want to once again congratulate the leadership and members of the NDDC Staff Cooperative Society for the bold attempt to establish a microfinance bank and thank the Central Bank of Nigeria for working with them to make this initiative a reality.
May God bless the Niger Delta region and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Thank you very much.