There was excitement in Calabar when 90 women and youths in the Niger Delta region and oil producing states held their convocation after they successfully completed their two-week training in capacity building and empowerment in agriculture and other value chains.
The training took place at the University of Calabar where the graduation was also held. The programme, according to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, is one of the “initiatives of the present administration aimed at diversifying the economy, increasing food security and generating employment for our teeming youths in the Niger Delta.”
The minister, who was represented by Ediomu Ebioghe Philip, a deputy director in the ministry, advised women and youths from the region to take advantage of the numerous entrepreneurial opportunities offered by the government to better their lives.
“The ministry is aware that training without support is an effort in futility. Thus the provision of N500,000 to each participant to start their businesses. You are advised to utilize the empowerment package to set up enterprise that will stand the test of time, improve your lives and that of your families.
“My challenge to you is to practice what you learnt, contribute to the food security of the region and the country at large, build capacity in your community through backward integration and run profitable enterprises. Remember the slogan, 'start small and grow,'” he said.
Usani further stated that “this training and empowerment programme is a continuous exercise. Those who have been agitating for inclusion should be reminded that their voices have been heard. They will be considered in the subsequent batches, until every Niger Deltans becomes empowered, self-reliant, self-sustaining and self-dependent.”
The beneficiaries drawn from Akwa Ibom, Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Imo, Rivers and Ondo were trained in capacity building and empowerment in agriculture (fishery, poultry) and other value chains. They are expected to practice what they had learnt, contribute to the food security in the region and the country at large, build capacities in their communities through backward integration, and run profitable enterprises that would engage other women and youths in their communities.
The participants thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and Usani Usani for giving them the opportunity to take part in the training and promised to make good use of the startup funds.
The Rev Bright Isaac, one of the beneficiaries, who spoke on behalf of others, said the Niger Delta ministry had “equipped us physically, mentally and socially to withstand any challenge in life. You have re-invoked our creative ingenuities to reshape a new idea of not depending or waiting for white collar jobs but can be involved in not just creating jobs for ourselves but become employers of labour. With this singular act, the issue of youth restiveness will drastically be reduced in the Niger Delta region.”