Nigeria plans more programmes for Niger Delta ex-militants

01 September 2013, Owerri – In a bid to create employment and further build capacity among the youths in the Niger Delta region, the federal government has put in place, more programmes which would enable the ex-militants undertake skills acquisition in foreign countries, aside from the existing arrangement.

Professor Aloysius Chidi Nwosu of the Department of Agriculture Economics of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture (MOUA), Umudike and the research team leader who disclosed this at a research finding dissemination workshop on “Funding Youth Entrepreneurship in SMEs: A panacea for youth unemployment in Niger Delta Nigeria” held in Owerri, said a considerable number of youths had been sent abroad either for skills acquisition or university education in places like Philippines, South Africa, India, Poland and Sri-Lanka.

According to the don, some of the youths are to be trained in boat building, underwater diving and other areas such as maritime and crane operation , pipeline welding and skills that are relevant to the oil and gas sub-sector.

Professor Nwosu, who gave reasons for the emphasis placed on the youths, noted that they (youths) had been in the forefront of the communal conflicts and violence against other stakeholders in the oil and gas sector.

“The youths are largely unemployed, lack access to resources and live in abject poverty in their communities or migrate to a few urban centres where they still live in poverty”, noting that recourse to armed struggle was seen by them as the only way to gain some share of the national cake.

Nwosu, however, faulted the approach adopted by the government to reintegrate the youths, explaining that the youths sent abroad for training and skills acquisition are the more educated ones, especially graduates of tertiary Institutions who constitute a minority of the population of the youths.

He lamented that small businesses are severely handicapped in the tussle for financial resources. He noted that the inability of youths especially the not-so-well-educated ones to grow restive from time to time and expressed concern that the CBN and the Development Banks had not put in place, an effective and widespread programme for the funds that would make it possible for these category of youths to assess such funds to kick start their own businesses which had been badly affected.

He clarified that the broad objective of the workshop is to identify viable and bankable small and medium enterprises which could form a basis for a youth empowerment programme in the Niger Delta.

“The rational for this research is that there is a pressing need to launch a programme to enable the masses of unemployed and perhaps, not-so-well educated youths, engage in small business enterprises or expand existing ones to create more employment,” he said.

Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Hilary Edoga, represented by his deputy, Prof. Dominic Aja Okpara, quoting the Federal Ministry of Youths Development, put population of youths at about 67 million out of which 30 million or 46 percent are said to be unemployed.

According to Edoga, it is estimated that more than 31 million people are employed in the SME sub-sector which contributes about 46.5 percent of the gross domestic products (GDP).

He lauded programme of the Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment and the small and medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) which he said is aimed at creating five million jobs under SMEs by the year 2015.

“This workshop had therefore been organized to bring together all those who have responsibilities, interest in employment generation and poverty reduction, all those who have interest in developing youth entrepreneurship and all stakeholders who could contribute to designing and implementing carefully packaged financing programmes for youths in SMEs,” Edoga stated.

The research finding dissemination workshop featured two papers presented by Dr. Chris Emenyonu of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) on “Characterization, Growth in capital investment and employment generation of SMEs in Niger Delta region, and productivity, Profitability and constraints of SMEs in Niger Delta region also had Rev. Prof. O.O. Ukoha, Dr. O.R. Iheke, Dr. J.I. Lemchi, Dr. D.O. Ohajianya and Mrs. Chinoso Obiozor Chris-Emenyonu.

– This Day

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