The International Fund for Agricultural Development, (IFAD) Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises Project in the Niger Delta, LIFE-ND in collaboration with the Cross state Government has commenced operation in the state. The process which started last year but was put on hold has witnessed a turn around with the conduct of interviews for the shortlisted candidates to fill the various positions.

The programme was design to create jobs, reduce youth restiveness and to curb unemployment in the State and Country to the barest minimum. The positions for employment include: State Coordinator, Agri-business Promotion Officer, Rural Institution, Gender and Youth Officer, Rural Infrastructure Officer, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer.

Others are Project Accountant, Finance Officer, Procurement Officer and the Administration and Logistics officer. 

Addressing the shortlisted candidates and newsmen before the interview, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources in the State, Ntufam Okon Owuna said that the exercise was slated for last year but was suspended due to some logistics reasons. Hence, the State Government and agencies concerned having resolved the grey areas and considering the fact that Cross River State is one of the state leading in Agricultural/Industrial revolution in the country, have put plug in play to commence the exercise especially setting up the office of the Project Coordinator which is precondition for the commencement of the programme. To this effect, he added that the interview will run for two days of 28th Tuesday and 29 Wednesday of July, 2020 respectively.

Ntufam Owuna introduced the key officials for the exercise, the National Project Coordinator, Engr. Abiodun Sanni, Dr. Bright Wategire, the Director Project Coordinating Unit, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, personnel from the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Niger Delta Development Commission and the donor agencies.

The Hon. Commissioner who also doubled as the Chairman of the interview panel assured the candidates of a very transparent exercise where merits will come into play. He alluded that the sustainability of the programme centres on bringing a credible hand to manage the project for effective service delivery, but however, he also promised that every shortlisted candidate will be given equal opportunity to demonstrate his/her skills set, background and education.

He proceeded to present the guidelines to the shortlisted candidates and hinted that the interview was divided into written and oral test which the list will be forwarded to the executive Governor in the order of performance.

When pressed by newsmen on the key roles of IFAD, the Commissioner said that the project from it's acronym is to support Agricultural Development in the rural areas. The key partners according to him include, IFAD, the Federal Government, NDDC and the State Government. The Commissioner further insinuated that the facilities to be given to farmers in the rural areas was not limited to grants but all others things expected of a farmer such as training and empowerment needed in boosting Agricultural innovations and Development, and in strengthening the value chains and for food sufficiency in the state and country which is one of our problems.

He further added that Cross River State made the list of the 9 states out of the 36 states in the country for the programme and that 12 Local Government Areas will be participating in the first phase.

Owuna dismissed fears of politicizing the employments as they were necessary measures in place as provided by the criteria for the interview for employment couple with the collaboration in place by the various bodies involved to ensure transparency.

Dr. Bright Wategire, the Director Project Coordinating Unit, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, in his brief contributions said that the programme was designed for the Niger Delta and from the period which the the programme was flag-off till date, the state has lost sometime, hence there was need to fast track the process to meet up with others. He further added that though the recruitment process was entirely the state's affair but the Federal Government and other agencies are present to observe and ensure that the agreement in the project documents are adhered to for level playing ground and for competitiveness.

Engr. Abiodun Sanni, the National Project Coordinator of IFAD in his remarks said that IFAD has the United Nations undertone designed for the Niger Delta for sustained food security, funds for farmers, women and others. On the mechanisms to checkmate that things don't go awry in the area of project management and implementations which has become the stock in trade in country, the Project Coordinator said that one of such methodology lies on having the right people in place. "To do this, we must employ capable hands, this is what we are doing now, 'it's the reason we are following the project documents for proper checks and balances. We have a system in place where one monitors the other to ensure that we follow the project execution to the later" he concluded.


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