Stakeholders have acknowledged the fact that to curb high rates of unemployment and crimes in the society, it is important to introduce skill acquisition programmes for idle youths. CHRIS ERIYAMREMU, our Warri Correspondent, examines how this applies to the Niger Delta region
Several analysts have attributed the endless youth restiveness, increasing rate of unemployment and oil-related crimes in the Niger Delta to poor education and non-acquisition of relevant skills by youths in the region so as to enable them contribute meaningfully to socio-economic development of the country.
Skill acquisition is very important in the life of every citizen, especially in entrepreneurial sector. Of course, it is highly profitable in many instances. For example, many technicians and skilled workers earn more than some university graduates because of application of acquired skills.
Reports have indicated that comprehensive skill acquisition programmes can reduce militancy and other forms of criminal activities that have become major challenges threatening the peace and security and development of the oil-rich Niger Delta.
To urgently tackle and curb the menace of youth restiveness, increasing rate of unemployment and oil related crimes in the Niger Delta, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, in collaboration with the Onuesoke Foundation have embarked on skill acquisition training programmes for youths in Delta State.
The training programme designed to train youths from oil-producing communities in NPDC’s operated Oil Mining Lease OML30, was specially handled by Onuesoke Foundation, a non-government organisation based in Warri.
Mr. Sunny Onuesoke, chairman and chief executive, Onuesoke Foundation, at the flag-off of the programme, at Otu-Jeremi Skill Acquisition Centre, Ughelli South Local Government Area, Delta State, thanked NPDC for the necessary support adding that whatever skills the beneficiaries would acquire would make them self- reliant and potential entrepreneurs in the society.
He said it was a pity that there is high rate of unemployment in many parts of the world today saying that it was one of the causes of rapid growth in crimes in many societies.
“Skilled person can survive in any environment”, he said adding that “As water is very essential to human life, so is skill training and acquisition needed in the life of every serious minded human being, especially uneducated persons. Skills can do a lot of great work in the life of every living soul. Lack of entrepreneurial skills is one of major causes of corruption”.
Some beneficiaries of the programme expressed their happiness with our correspondent saying that if such programmes are encouraged more in number in the area, it would pull many people out of poverty.
“I am so glad that I received this training. I am now a good taylor. At least I can now set up my shop and apply my acquired skill and make a living for myself and siblings”, said a trained lady who gave her name as Miss Joy.
Another beneficiary who gave his name as a Ben said that he has become a better person by virtue of the training he has received. “I thank God and the organisers of this training programme, because as a trained carpenter, I am no longer useless to myself and family members; I am going to make good use of this training to help myself in life”, he said.
Onuesoke lamented that there are many unemployed graduates in the country, noting that it is partly as a result of the long system of education that is more of “grammar and theory” that is responsible for the lack of practical learning.
According to him “The increasing unemployed is becoming worrisome in Nigeria, particularly in Niger Delta region. One of the major causes of the unemployment among our vibrant youths is lack of skill to back up what they learnt from institutions of learning and unless this is dealt with, there is hardly future for an important portion of the next generation in the country”.
He posited that graduates and every youth in Niger Delta should learn at least one skill in graphic designing, typing, hair dressing, electrical maintenance and others, as such will drastically reduce the rate of unemployment among them the youths.
Onuesoke said students, whenever they are during holidays, should use the period to learn other skills instead of being busy watching various distractive videos and engaging unfruitful social activities in the social media.
The activist and former governorship aspirant of Peoples Democratic Party in Delta State, however, appealed to politicians in the state to support Delta State Governor, Senator IfeanyiOkowa’s SMART agenda in creating entrepreneurs and industrialists instead of followers.
“Politicians should think of supporting the SMART agenda of Okowa’s government by embarking on establishment of small scale industries for youths instead of embarking on policy of empowerment of giving youths cash, vehicles and monthly salaries they did not work for”, he said.
“When you open a cement store of one Dangote full trailer load of cement for a youth, that youth has been empowered for life. He or she will not come to you again begging for alms. Instead, such a youth will become an employer of labour thereby contributing to the development of the community,” Onuesoke advised.
He further went on to express the need to encourage or improve artisans who are specialists as mechanics, carpenters and tailors to modern trend so that they can be useful to themselves and the society by applying their trade.
According to him, “There is also the need to look inward into those mechanics, carpenters, tailors and other artisans who do not have the right skills in their earlier training that suit modern trend. They could be engaged in full time training for say a year to rebrand their skills and make them useful to modern day trend of their profession. They can repair modern luxurious cars, create modern furniture and design modern outfits for government, corporate organisations and individual instead of roaming the street and becoming nuisance to the society.”