The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr Nsima Ekere, has stressed the importance of education in ensuring the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.
Ekere , who spoke at the Annual NDDC Moot and Mock Trial Competition organised by the Institute of Legal Development and Resource Management at the Faculty of Law, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, maintained that education was a strong influence in the development of the Niger Delta master plan, as well as a key element of the Change Agenda of the Federal Government. The NDDC Chief Executive Officer declared that the strengthening of law and order infrastructure was critical to the development of the Niger Delta because it would ensure that all stakeholders contributing to regional development operated within the limits and expectations of the law.
Ekere noted that the Niger Delta region had enhanced development of jurisprudence in Nigeria and contributed immensely to the development of the legal profession. He said: “Indeed, the region boasts of producing some of the finest legal philosophers in Nigeria, from the Late Justice Chukwudifo Oputa, Hon. Justice Ndoma-Egba, Justice Victor Ovie-Whiskey, Justice Niki Tobi to the incumbent Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onoghen.
“I am convinced that within this hall are many brilliant minds who will inherit their distinguished bequest. This NDDC Annual Moot Court Trail Competition, therefore, presents us with the first hint of who the new generation of our legal luminaries are and the heritage which we all share.”
The NDDC boss said that the Commission would continue to play its statutory role in developing and supporting other efforts to advance education, stressing that “we can only truly facilitate sustainable developments if we build human capacity, strengthen livelihoods, reduce poverty, as well as contain violence and crime in our region.”
Ekere said NDDC would continue to support the development of education, including legal education through practical trainings to improve capacity. He stated: “We believe this exercise will help to inculcate the culture, time honoured and establish dispute resolution mechanisms. This competition is a platform which affirms to us all that our collective investments in the education of the youths of the Niger Delta brings in return far greater than its initial investments.”
He observed that the best hostel at the Rivers State University was built by the NDDC to give better living and learning conditions to students. He noted that the hostel was one of the 18 NDDC hostels projects in universities across the region. Besides infrastructure, he said: “We have sponsored over 1,411 post graduate students to different foreign universities in 9 skill areas, including oil and gas law. Indeed, despite its recent challenges, this programme has produced many great stories, including Mr. Obong Peters, a PhD Student who won the three minutes thesis competition in Australia and Mr. Augustine Osarogiagbon of Memorial University, who completed in PhD in less than the stipulated time and was offered a dual PhD, with 2 graduate assistants to work with him.”
“We are also investing to boost E-learning, because this is the future of education and the Niger Delta region cannot afford to lag behind. We have started negotiations with the government of Sao Tome and Principe to harness their excess internet capacity to the region so that our people can enjoy its robust benefits and help build the new generation we are helping to facilitate.”
The Vice Chancellor of Rivers State University, Prof Blessing Didia, while receiving the NDDC Managing Director in his office, commended the Commission for building “the best hostel in the university.”
He said that the university was looking for partners to build a mini sports complex. “Our students go for sports competitions and come back without medals because they have no training grounds,” he lamented.
In his welcome address, the Managing Director, Institute for Legal Development and Resource Management, Dr Ekemini Uba, said that the Moot Trial Competition was a good way of helping the law students to develop critical thinking skills.
Uba, who was represented by Mr Edidiong Idiong, remarked that the mock trial would also help the students to develop the spirit of team work, while giving them the opportunity to blend their oral and theoretical skills.
The Dean of the Faculty of law, Prof Nlerum Okogbule, gave kudos to the NDDC for sponsoring the maiden edition of the Moot and Mock Trial competition for law students, stating that it was a proof of the Commission’s commitment to deepening the promotion of education in the Niger Delta.
He stated that human capacity building was a very important factor in the development of any region, adding that it was central to any development effort.