The Niger Delta Youth Movement, NDYM, the umbrella body for all youth organizations in the Niger Delta region, has been charged to coordinate and mobilise the young people to embrace entrepreneurship to build sustainable livelihoods.
Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr Nsima Ekere, was speaking to youth leaders drawn from the nine states of the region, during a courtesy visit at the commission's headquarters in Port Harcourt.
Ekere said that the NDDC was partnering with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN and the Nigerian Export Import Bank, NEXIM, to help provide employment for the youths.
He said: “We want to turn the youths to entrepreneurs. That is the way we can reduce unemployment. With SMEDAN, we are developing clusters in the Niger Delta that will train our youths and help them imbibe the spirit of entrepreneurship.
“The partnership with NEXIM Bank is meant to develop the agricultural sector by boosting the entire value chain from training to planting, processing and provision of funds for setting up agricultural enterprises. We want to create an export initiative in the agricultural sector to create jobs and help the nation's economy.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that given the importance of the youths, the meeting with NYDM was very crucial as it would make for a more effective interface with the youths of the Niger Delta region.
According to Ekere, “it is important to have one group that represents the interests of all the youths in the region. The Federal Government recognizes Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum, PANDEF, as representing elders of the region and NDYM is well positioned to represent the interest of the youths.
“I will like to see a situation where the NDYM can coordinate the activities of other youth groups and carry them along.”
The NDDC boss urged the NDYM to prevail on youths in the region to abstain from negative propaganda against the NDDC. “We know from intelligence reports that the negative stories originate from one political group. The youths should not allow politicians to use them. Some of the false information are about projects that have already been completed and commissioned by NDDC,” Ekere said.
He emphasised that politics should not be mixed with the issues of development, stating that NDDC had refused to be dragged into politics.
Ekere commended the youths for pledging to join the fight against criminality in the Niger Delta. He declared: “Without peace in the region, investors will be unwilling to come to do businesses in the area. Above all, security agencies need the support of the youth groups to succeed.”
Speaking earlier, National President of NDYM, Joe Jackson, commended the NDDC for its various youth programmes, noting that the current Board and Management had recorded remarkable achievements since they took charge at the Commission.
The NDYM president said that his executive was working out modalities for the protection of public infrastructure in the various communities, adding that they would partner with other stakeholders to foster unity and sustainable peace in the region.