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Stakeholders Proffer Solutions to Youth Development, Empowerment in Niger Delta

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  by Our Correspondent

Major stakeholders in the security sector, on penultimate Thursday week, converged in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital, to proffer solutions to the challenges facing empowerment and development of youths in the Niger Delta region.

The event which was an interactive forum for security stakeholders, youth leaders and some pressure groups was organised by the Safety Environtoxin Nigeria Limited, and supported by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).

The one-day Interactive session held at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Onopa, was anchored by representative from the Bayelsa State Police Command, the Department of State Service (DSS), Joint Task Force (JTF) Operation Delta Safe, NCDMB and Scholars of high repute.

Speaker after speakers took turn to bring to the front burner the challenges of development faced by youths of this terrain, and thereafter proffer solutions and proposal for a workable resolutions.

Speaking on a paper titled “The Place of Intelligence Gathering and Information Sharing in Promotion of Security and Peace-building amongst Youths and Public/Private Entities,” the DSS representative, Mr. Bernard Matthew, said “Greater synergy amongst security agencies through information sharing and joint operations” remains a desirable strategy to curb challenges such as hostage-taking and kidnapping, illegal oil bunkering, and cultism, among other vices.

He advised youths to “acquire skills even if you have a degree,” arguing that self-development was a way of ensuring that one could secure a good job or enjoy career advancement or even be self-employed.

According to a professor of International Relations and Strategic Studies, Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, Femi Olufunmide, who spoke on the theme, “The Utility of Constructive Engagement with Corporate Bodies. “said acts like violence on people, issuing of threats, blockade of business premises, and vandalisation of pipelines, were non-constructive, and never served any useful purpose.

He urged host communities and youths to seek constructive avenues for pursuit of their objectives. He advised that civil communications like letter writing, stating issues and seeking peaceful engagements are better. He also suggested dialogue and negotiation, goodwill gestures, and collaboration.

In a presentation, “Communicating and Interfacing with NCDMB Zonal Offices,” the General Manager, Corporate Communications and Zonal Coordinator, NCDMB, Barr. Esueme Dan Kikile, represented by the Deputy Manager, Media and Publicity, Mr. Obinna Ezeobi, stated that the Board’s philosophy of stakeholder engagement and collaboration had been demonstrated from its earliest beginnings in Yenagoa.

While noting that “engagements with stakeholders in Yenagoa in 2010 shows that is a priority of the NCDMB,” he said the Board has ever been determined “to create value in Bayelsa State.”

He pointed out that pursuant to the Board’s mandate of capacity building and local content development, it has contributed significantly to the economy and development of Bayelsa State.He listed the 17-storey Nigerian Content Tower, Swali, Corporate Headquarters of the NCDMB, the 10-megawatt power plant at Elebele, and STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) Programme for which the Board has trained 1,000 teachers now teaching in different secondary schools.

Other projects of the Board include the establishment of well-equipped Information and Communication Technology Centres in all local government areas of the State, empowerment of over 50 physically challenged persons, undergraduate essay competition for which mouth-watering prizes are given to winners (students and participating schools), as some examples.

In addition to the foregoing, the NCDMB has completed a world-class industrial park, the Nigerian Oil and Gas Parks Scheme (NOGAPS) at Emeyal-1, in Ogbia Local Government Area, which is bringing to this State manufacturers of components and spares of equipment and tools used in the oil and gas industry.

Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, Asinim Butswat, said Bayelsa State currently enjoys official rating as the State with the lowest crime-rate in the South-South and ranks very high among all the states in the Federation. “Bayelsa State is lucky as all security agencies are here and we collaborate,” he stated, adding, “we collaborate with members of the local communities, interest groups, ”as afforded by platforms such as the interactive session.

Commander J.O. Bayode of Operation Delta Safe, who represented Rear Admiral J.U. Okeke, also commended the existing collaboration among security agencies in Bayelsa State, assuring that measures put in place to combat illegal oil bunkering and sea piracy have significantly minimised such criminal activities.

The organizer of the event, Amb. Winston C. Amain, in his welcome speech, reiterated the importance that the forum was convened to provide a platform for meaningful dialogue and engagement on issues that are crucial to the development and empowerment of the youth in the Niger Delta region.

Amain maintained that the Niger Delta region which is rich in natural resources, has continued to face challenges such as environmental degradation, unemployment, and lack of opportunities for the youth.

He said “The NCDMB recognizes the important role that the youth play in the sustainable development of the Niger Delta and is committed to working with all stakeholders to create a conducive environment for their growth and empowerment”

This forum is an opportunity for us to listen to the concerns and aspirations of the youth, and to collectively identify solutions that will enable them to reach their full potential.

I urge all participants to actively engage in the discussions, share their experiences and insights, and work together towards finding innovative and sustainable solutions to the challenges facing the youth in the Niger Delta.

The delegates that gave their goodwill messages, includes
Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), National Youth Council (NYC), Bayelsa State Chapter, and Movement for Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP).

Others were Akwa Ibom State, Afenifere (South West), Ohaneze (South East), National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), National Parliament, Edo State, and Presidential Amnesty Programme, Phase II beneficiaries.

The high point of the event was the presentation of certificate to all the participants of the event.

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