Executive Director’s Speech on the Occasion of the 20th Anniversary of Diamond Development Initiatives (DDI) at The Executive Hall, Abuja International Conference Centre, FCT – Abuja on November 1, 2022.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to once again, welcome you all very warmly to the occasion of our 20 anniversary – celebrating two decades of providing development services across Nigeria. Anniversaries are a good occasion, not only to take stock and celebrate the past but also to lay out ambitious hopes for the future. But first, I would like to begin by expressing my sincere congratulations and best wishes to the entire DDI family on this auspicious occasion and to all who have contributed tirelessly and immensely to DDI’s 20 years of history of impact and accomplishments. 

Our celebration is not so much a festivity, but a solemn occasion to pause and look back at this twenty-year journey. While we can justifiably give ourselves a pat on the back for what we have been able to accomplish, we also feel that it is an opportunity to take a moment to look ahead at the mountains we must yet climb. Hence, as we commemorate 20 years of providing development services to unserved and underserved populations across Nigeria, let me take you through the DDI Journey so far.

The Past

The DDI story speaks to the gratitude that we owe to all those who helped build this organization, and it also speaks to the foundation of the organization.  What sparked the idea of setting up DDI? We found out something: That there was a huge gap in the capacity of local development organizations in the delivery of quality projects. Just yesterday, Dr Judith Ann Walker of the development Research and Project Consultants (dRPC) reminded me of an independent research her firm carried out 21 years ago. And after surveying 27 NGOs and private sector firms nationally, thoroughly examining their institutional capacities, dRPC recommended the establishment of an organization to fill this yawning gap.

  • We envisaged an organization that would deploy participatory, bottom-up approaches and focus on touching the very basic needs of project participants – thereby being truly reflective of the needs to be addressed. 
  • We envisaged an organization that would serve in the stead of development service delivery through the provision of technical assistance in the design, planning and implementation of development initiatives.
  • We envisioned an organization that can both deliver quality projects and meet the reporting requirements and the high level of accountability associated with the use of donor funds.
  • We had the desire to build an organization with a strong reputation that can be a reference point for credible local development organizations in Nigeria.

So, we started out with a staff of five and a huge ambition; we began reaching out to prospective partners, as we had much to prove. Based on peculiar challenges, availability of government and private sector collaborations as well as donor focus, we explored an opportunity to expand our project’s reach and scope to more states in Nigeria. Many years ago, the word proposal had just one meaning to me … the expression of a desire to marry someone. In other words, an offer for marriage. But now, and haven written several proposals in the last 20 years, I know that that same word has other meanings. 

I would like to talk about the very first proposal submitted by DDI. It was in response to a request for applications by the United States African Development Foundation. That proposal, that very first proposal resulted in our getting our very first award which began in 2002. And although it’s an annual Cooperative Agreement, we have had that agreement renewed successfully in the last 20 years. To this day we are proud to be the sole technical partner of the United States African Development Foundation in Nigeria.

Our people

The DDI story has been one of teamwork. Today, we are celebrating 20 years because our people (comprising our staff and board members) have remained dedicated and committed to the vision and mission of DDI. Every single member of the team has been a star in one way or another. Our staff have consistently taken ownership of their various portfolios while working together as a team on cross-cutting responsibilities. While this has helped foster positive workplace relationships, it has helped in maximizing their contributions to the organization and has encouraged accountability, skill set expansion and proactivity. Our board members are not only dedicated and committed to DDI’s mission, but they have also become our greatest advocates. creating a climate of respect, trust, and candour. 

Our Partners.

With several areas of focus, building strategic partnerships and targeting multiple partners – in line with these areas of focus – have been inevitable. For the past 20 years, our funding base has grown steadily and substantially, thanks to the dedication and generosity of our partners. We have enjoyed the unflinching support of our esteemed partners and have benefitted immensely from their understanding and willingness to adapt to our conditions. As I mentioned in my opening, our partners have contributed tirelessly and immensely to DDI’s 20 years of history of impact and accomplishments.

Our Projects and Programs

Since 2002, we have implemented projects in 29 of the 36 states in Nigeria as well as the Federal Capital Territory. We are proud of the number of lives we have touched, the number of enterprises we have supported and the number of producer/farmer groups whose capacity we have built through our various areas of focus. Along this incredible journey, through all the changes and adaptations, our program philosophy has remained constant: a commitment to the ideals of participatory and bottom-up approach, ensuring that benefiting parties are actively involved throughout the process. We have equally maintained our areas of focus: 

  • Business Support and Enterprise Management Services.
  • Agricultural Value Chain Development and Commodity Market Access Services
  • Renewable off-grid energy
  • Youth Employability, as well as Entrepreneurship Development
  • Grants management.
We have seen clear benefits from the support we have been providing:
  • Over 600,000 smallholder farmers across all geo-political zones in Nigeria have been supported to access a range of services including agricultural extension services, agro-inputs and marketing skills training, vocational training, Best Agronomy Practice (BAP) and Skills for Marketing and Rural Transformation (SMART) training, and input support – to improve yield and income.
  • Over 20,000 cooperative societies and MSMEs have benefitted from DDI technical and managerial support and mentorship
  • Over 60 off-grid energy entrepreneurs have been supported and scaled up to accelerate the use of proven off-grid energy technologies to reach both unserved and underserved communities across Nigeria.
  • Over 3,000 young people – through over 40 Vocational Training centres (VTCs) – have been supported to access industry-, and trade-relevant skills.   
These numbers speak to the outcomes of our work, but that’s not the main reason why I love my job. Beyond the numbers, I love my job because I have seen impact. 
  1. I have seen the glow in the eyes of a 54-year-old woman who was signing a chèque for the very first time. 
  2. I have seen the joy radiated by Danatala Sidi, a rice farmer in Kano State whose yield increased by over 300% because he adopted improved agronomic practices.
  3. I have heard several stories from men and women who are now able to send their children to school and feed better because of their improved incomes.
  4. I know of Zaiyanu Hali, a smallholder farmer in Sokoto State who can now store his cowpea and other farm produce and sell whenever the price is better. Zaiyanu uses the Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags which provide a simple, low-cost method of reducing post-harvest cowpea losses due to infestations.
  5. I know of Mrs. Cordelia Omonga who used to engage in small-scale palm oil processing and marketing using traditional methods in Odukpani village Cross River State but is now able to increase her production of palm oil from 25 litres per day to about 100 litres per day. 
  6. I know of Mrs. Comfort Bassey, a widow with 5 dependents and a resource poor fish processor and marketer in Echensogha village in Obubra Local Government Area of Cross River State, but who has now established her own farm with two fishponds and is able to care for herself and her dependents. 
  7. I know of Austin Iliya a 28-year-old man who has established a chemist’s shop in because the community which is not connected to the national grid now has electricity from a renewable source.
  8. I know Mukhtar Ibrahim a government extension agent in Kaduna State who is now better equipped to provide extension services to thousands of farmers and can now effectively coordinate the efforts of dozens of other extension agents. 

The Future

Over the years, we have seen so many changes in our operating environment…  country political administration, inflation, and above all COVID-19. Surviving through all these years required that we demonstrate resilience and come up with adequate strategies to not only survive, but also grow and reach higher heights. 

Every 5 years and somewhere in between each 5-year period, we do some self-reflection. We ask ourselves questions, and we challenge ourselves to be sure whether what we do is still needed and relevant. We ask questions of ourselves to be sure that how we operate and how we conduct our activities are still effective. We refine our strategies, we re-tool, when necessary, we commit to rededicating ourselves to work, we reaffirm our commitment to our partners. We are constantly reinventing to ensure that our services are still needed, and quite importantly, we also strive to have a good work-life balance. 

Finally, and looking forward, we see a future where DDI is repositioned to compete even more effectively within the development service space, playing a critical role in the attainment of the SDGs. We are looking at a future where we will continue to develop and pursue a strategy of growth that is positioned to provide for expansion as well as continued financial sustainability. We are looking at a future where DDI expands its client base while increasing funds raised or earned from different sources. We are looking at a future where our operations are expanded to some other countries, beginning with the sub-western region of Africa and later to other African countries. We are looking at a future where DDI continues to focus on prevailing development issues like Climate Change, Climate Smart agriculture, and so on while turning our vast experience into a resource for other industry players to learn from.

I join my Board Chair in extending a warm welcome to you all. And I thank you most sincerely for listening. 

Do you have questions? Call or visit us.

+(234) 803 276 4536,
Suite D6, 3rd Floor, Rukayyat Plaza Plot 93, Obafemi Awolowo Way Jabi District, Abuja. Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria.


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