Abuja - The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Dr. Steve Oru, on said on Wednesday that the ministry had empowered 2 200 non-militant youths in the region in various skills under the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The ministry was established in September 2008 by the late former President Umaru Yar'dua, to support its stabilization and peace building strategy.
The ministry's role is to formulate, coordinate and execute the Federal Government's development initiatives and programmes in the region.
Oru, in an interview with media in Abuja, explained that the training and empowerment programmes for youths in the region was a continuous exercise.
He applauded Jonathan for his efforts in positively affecting the lives of the people and ensuring that they felt the impact of his transformation agenda.
"Mr President has been so passionate about the people in the Niger Delta region.
"It is on the strength of his transformation initiative that the ministry has made progress so far."
The minister said the youths were trained in oil and gas, agriculture, maritime, seafarers, engineering, information and communications technology (ICT) as well as iPad and telephone assembly.
He said that the trainees were all drawn from the nine states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers.
Oru stated that the ministry’s skills acquisition centres in the nine oil producing states of the Niger Delta region were near completion.
However, he said that the completion was hampered due to insufficient funds but that efforts were being made to bring all the centres on stream.
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"The centre in Akwa Ibom and Delta states would concentrate on oil and gas, ICT and maritime studies.
"The centres in Abia and Imo will train youths in commerce, the one in Cross River is on entertainment and tourism while the Ondo skills acquisition centre will focus on agriculture.
"However, the ministry’s zeal for the completion of projects has been hampered due to paucity of funds," Oru said.
He said that the ministry’s decision for a private sector operator to manage the centres was the best approach to make them run optimally and become enduring.
The minister said that efforts were being made to empower more youths on various skills acquisition both locally and international.
He explained that the terms of the training programme, government was supposed to provide seed money to the recipients to establish agriculture-related business.
He said the ministry was discussing with the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) on how to secure soft loans for the youths, who completed their training programme in Israel.
The Minister said the essence of the programme was to resolve youth restiveness in the region.
The ministry recently appealed to the Niger Delta youths who participated in a Federal Government-sponsored training programme on agriculture in Israel to exercise patience on the issue of disbursement of their take-off grant.