Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has inaugurated an Aquaculture Training Centre at Elugwu Umuntu Olokoro, Umuahia South Local Government Area of Abia State.
The project which was awarded in 2013 to the tune of N245 million comprises eight fish housing tanks (fish ponds), two hatcheries, two lecture blocks, a six-room staff quarters, a four-room office block, power generating set, eight units of street lights, water supply system, among others.
According to NDDC, the objectives of the project include: production of fries/fingerlings to meet the growing demand for fish seed stocks by fish farmers in the Niger Delta region; creation of a hub for training of youths in the region in fish production technology; generation of employment and wealth creation as some of the objectives of establishing the centre.
Inaugurating the project amidst pageant, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Dr Samuel Ogbuku, identified underdevelopment and infrastructural deficit have been identified as common factors among states in the Niger Delta region.
The NDDC boss also identified ecological problems including flooding and erosion as major challenges of the region.
Emphasing that the Commission was established to tackle the various challenges of the region, Ogbuku restated the readiness of the commission to proffer solutions to them.
He explained that when he came on board, he decided to complete the various projects initiated by previous Managements of the commission instead of commencing fresh ones.
He argued that it made no sense to embark on new projects when old ones were abandoned.
Dr Ogbuku described the Aquaculture Training Centre as a signature project of NDDC which will add value to the lives of the people.
He further said that investments in agriculture was one of the sustainable means of youth employment and job creation.
The NDDC boss promised to expand the facilities at the centre and to ensure they were put into proper use, adding that the trainees at the centre would be monitored to ensure they were able to stand on their own after acquiring skills at the centre.
In his address, the Abia State Representative in the NDDC Board, Chief Dimgba Eruba, said the Centre was envisioned to be a skill acquisition hub and an economic catalyst that would empower a good number of the teeming population of youths on how to breed, raise and harvest fish, “and make profit from the enterprise.”
He decried the activities of vandals which affected the timely competition of the project, and urged the host community to help in safeguarding facilities at the centre.
Eruba recalled that “at various times the activities of hoodlums who ingloriously vandalised valuable fittings including an electricity eenerating set in this center, threatened the successful completion and commissioning of this project.”
He, however, said that in spite of “the aforementioned setbacks, with sheer determination to overcome the twin evil of poverty and unemployment that confront us in Abia state, we carried on with the necessary works and to the glory of God, we are able to actualise the project.”
In a remark, a consultant, Dr Moses Oluigbo, appealed to NDDC to “facilitate and approve the regular posting of a good percentage of trainees” to the centre, arguing that “regular posting of trainees would enhance the operational activities of the centre.”