By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The federal government at the weekend disclosed plans to empower fifty non militant Niger Delta youths already trained in various skill acquisition programmes, with grants to enable them start up their trades and vocations.
A statement issued at the weekend in Abuja by the Ministry’s Director of Press, Marshall Gundu, said the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Claudius Daramola, made this disclosure during the graduation ceremony of the youths in Osun State.
The Minister of State, the statement said, further warned the graduates that government would monitor them to ensure that the resources are put to good use, adding that it was a measure to ensure that efforts of Government to empower youths of the region through various skills acquisition schemes is not in vain.
He charged the graduates of the schemes to put the skills acquired to good use, as they are vital to the development of the region and the country. He pointed out that the training was proof of the present administration’s resolve to use human capital development to address unemployment and ensure peace and security in the region.
The Minister of State also said that the decision to embark on the skills acquisition schemes was necessitated by the realization that they not only have positively impact on the lives of participants, but that the society also benefits from their multiplier effects.
According to the statement, the fifty non militant youths were trained in artisan/skills acquisition training in the housing sector at Joseph Ayo Babalola University, JABU, Ikeji Osun State for a period of four weeks.
He advocated more collaboration with the institution on establishing how best to empower the graduates and those who have been trained previously to ensure ‘the various investments in them yield the desired goal of engineering the region’s economic growth and development.
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor of Joseph Ayo Babalola University, Professor Sola Fajana, commended the Federal Government for the programme, saying that the present era is that ‘of service, skills acquisition, vocational training, in addition to formal education’, adding that ‘it will never be complete if one learns in the classroom but has not practiced’.
The Vice Chancellor expressed his institution’s willingness to collaborate with the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs on the training of more youths of the region ‘ in the spirit of making the nation’s teeming youths become better for tomorrow’s challenge’.
Miss Akinnagbe Olayinka, one of the trainees, who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries, thanked the Federal Government for the dedication to the betterment of Niger Deltans through the programme, as well as empowering them with finance, which she stressed as one of the important prerequisites to establishing and owning their businesses.
She added that government’s recognition of ‘the need to develop and empower youths of the region truly strikes the right chord in the heart of all truly patriotic Niger Deltans and earned the region and Nigeria as a whole, an enormous respect and honour’.
Another beneficiary, Olajerinde Festus, who was trained in Landscaping, said that the skills and knowledge he acquired will enable him to be self-reliant and useful to the society.
He thanked the Federal Government for the initiative and pleaded that the financial backing be increased for subsequent trainees, due to the economic hardship in the country. He encouraged youths from the region to key into the programme saying it is highly beneficial.