The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) has sought a partnership with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in tackling the challenges of unemployment and youth restiveness in the Niger Delta.
Interim Administrator of the Programme, Major General Barry Ndiomu (rtd), disclosed this during a courtesy call to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Lagos, noted that the Amnesty programme has been repositioned to tackle unrest and unemployment in the Niger Delta by empowering youths in the area with requisite skills.
While soliciting the partnership of the authority for some of its programmes, especially the Deep Sea Diving School in Rivers State, Ndiomu, who was received by NPA’s Managing Director, Mohammed Bello-Koko, and other management teams, said he has had to redirect the programme to its primary objective of boosting the capacity of youths in the Niger Delta.
“When I took over in September 2022, I discovered that the programme had been drifting away from the core objectives of why it was established. I have to redirect the vision towards the initial concept, which is essential to build the capacity of the teeming restive youths in the region.
“Like they say, ‘an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.’ When these boys are jobless, what do you expect from them? They engage in criminal activities, including pipeline vandalization, piracy, and other activities which affect the economy,” he said
He said the Amnesty Programme has five vocational centres, which were established with different specialisations such as in Agadagba in Ondo state, aimed at training youths in oil & gas related activities; another in Bomadi, Delta state, with the objectives of building capacity in energy-related activities while the one in Rivers state is for deep sea diving training.
While lamenting that the centre in Boro town, Bayelsa State, was vandalised after its completion, Ndiomu solicited technical support as well as long-term strategic collaboration in utilising one of the jetties of the NPA for the deep sea diving school in Rivers state.
“I want to solicit your support and assistance with a view to the use of one of your jetties in Rivers state which we can develop further together for the purpose of the deep sea diving school and other related marine training. This is one area we can get the youths to create sustainable livelihoods.
“These boys are willing to learn. Many of them have been trained but sadly, they are unemployed. I don’t think this is in the best interest of the country.
“We have been managing them by paying them the recommended monthly stipend, but it is not the right way to go because we indirectly encourage the culture of indolence and dependency. It is not something we should encourage in our youths, rather we should give them the opportunity to be self-reliant and contribute meaningfully to the economy,” he added.
The MD of NPA, Bello-Koko, who commended Ndiomu for boosting the capacity of youths in the Niger Delta, said the programme has helped in addressing unrest in the region.
He assured the PAP team of the willingness of NPA to provide technical support and other assistance needed for the success of the deep sea diving school. He said the authority has improved activities in the ports in the region as a way of gainfully engaging the youths through the provision of jobs.
“For us in NPA, we have tried to improve activities of our ports in the region to tackle restiveness because with these activities, jobs are created and the youths are engaged. We will work with you to give you all the support you need. We’ll work with you to see any available jetty for which you want to use it. When it comes to deep sea diving and other marine-related training, we have experienced staff here that we can always send to you to offer training and advisories whenever the need arises.
“We have tried as much as possible to have a very good working relationship with the host communities in the Niger Delta. We have seen a reduction in restiveness because of what you have been doing and our engagement with the host communities. We also seek your support when you are engaging with the communities around the port locations; they need to realise that their action and inaction will determine how viable the ports are,” he said.
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