By Ebi Perekeme
The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, says it will commit over one billion naira to assist the nine states in the Niger Delta region in the fight against the Coronavirus disease, COVID-19, just as it directs a shutdown of its operations.
Speaking in his office at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, the Commission’s Acting Managing Director, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, declared that the interventionist agency was making available N775 million to support the nine states under its mandate. He added that it would release another N270 million to fast-track the establishment of isolation centres in the 27 senatorial districts across the region.
Pondei, who last week pledged to collaborate with other stakeholders in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, said the NDDC would contribute in the area of treatment because most of the activities so far had been on prevention.
He said: “We are exploring avenues to see if we could intervene in providing ventilators and facilitate the procurement of oxygen.
“We are also looking at the drugs that have been used so far in other climes for treatment. The NDDC is going a step above what others are doing.”
As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NDDC on Monday announced a total shutdown of its services.
An internal memorandum signed by the NDDC Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Chief Ibanga Bassey Etang, and addressed to the Commission’s directorates, departments and units, stated that the shutdown would last till further notice.
According to the memo: “In view of the complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic, which appears to be on the increase at the moment, it has become imperative for a total shutdown of the services of the commission beginning from today 30th March, 2020.
“However, management will not hesitate to recall some key staff handling one sensitive schedule or the other when the need arises.”
It added: “Directors/Heads/Units of such essential services as security, plant operators etc should workout ways of covering such duties during the shutdown and forward same to the office of the Ag EDFA accordingly.”
The Commission reminded staff to adhere strictly to the World Health Organisation, WHO, standard on preventive measures by ensuring personal hygiene which included washing of hands with soap and water and sanitizing of hands, maintaining of social distance and staying away from public places when necessary.
It also directed staff to follow stipulated guidelines by the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, and other relevant health agencies of government to curb possible spread of the virus.
The Commission had earlier directed a partial shutdown of the Commission on March 26, 2020, following the Federal Government’s directive that staff on SGL 03 – 12 should work from home until further notice.