All publications of Rufus Okon . Abuja , Nigeria

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has offfered over N1 billion as palliative to the nine oil-producing states to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its Acting Managing Director, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, stated this in Port Harcourt, adding that the management had ordered a shutdown of the agency’s operations.

He explained that the NDDC would make available N775 million to support the nine states, hinting also that the organisation would release another N270 million to fast-track the establishment of isolation centres in the 27 senatorial districts in the beneficiary states.

Pondei had week pledged to collaborate with other stakeholders in the fight against the COVID-19 scourge.He said the NDDC would contribute in the area of treatment because most of the activities so far had been on prevention.

“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, “he stated.

Moreover, the interventionist agency’s Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Ibanga Bassey Etang, has directed all directorates, departments and units to shutdown till further notice.

A memorandum from his office read: “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 March 30, 2020.

“However, management will not hesitate to recall some key staff handling one sensitive schedule or the other when the need arises.“Directors/heads/units of such essential services as security, plant operators etc should work out ways of covering such duties during the shutdown and forward same to the office of the Acting EDFA accordingly.”

The commission urged members of staff to adhere to the World Health Organisation (WHO) preventive measures by ensuring personal hygiene that advocate washing of hands with soap and water and sanitising of hands as well as maintaining social distancing and staying away from public places when necessary.