Yenagoa—Bayelsa Governor, Douye Diri at the weekend lauded the positive activities of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC).
According to Diri, the group has evolved into a stronger voice for the Ijaw nation through capacity building.
Diri stated this while speaking at the commencement of the second batch of the free ICT skill acquisition training programme initiated by IYC spokesman, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe tagged “Project 301 ICT Savvy Ijaw Youths.”
He noted that unlike in the past, the IYC has shown signs of building future generations of Ijaw youths through ICT to change the narrative in the peaceful and constructive engagement of the Nigerian nation.
The governor who was represented by the former speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Tonye Isenah added that at some point, activities in the IYC became worrisome,
“But at the moment, the way the IYC is going now is nice. In the past when some of us started seeing certain things, we were not comfortable. IYC was meant specifically for struggle but at some point, it was hijacked,” he said.
He described the initiative as a replica of the present administration’s efforts to ensure a peaceful and crime-free society in the state with the building of bridges as well as youth empowerment and training.
According to him, “we are one people, it doesn’t matter the political party you belong to, he sees Bayelsa first and so why are we fighting and killing ourselves?
“We should be partners in progress and that’s what you are seeing and because you are seeing his administration, prosperity administration, peace is an essential index of prosperity.
“And if we are able to get peace in our system, it creates an opportunity for young people to go about doing their businesses, government cannot employ everybody, you don’t blame anybody we are going to blame ourselves, this is something created like a young man like you and see what you can do.
“The government is here to partner with people like this and look into the youth sector and see what can we do, at the sport level he is doing everything to make sure that everything is okay in that sector any of the sports that brings money, our energy should be channelled towards fruitful and good venture instead of going to cultist and running on the street.”
Also speaking, the Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Major General Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd) commended the IYC for embarking on non-violent effort to change the narrative of the Niger Delta struggle through empowerment and improved skills of Ijaw youths.
Represented by Alaowei Opukeme Jonah, Ndiomu said the ICT training programme is a systematic way of creating manpower because success is when opportunity meets preparations.
“So if eventually, the LNG kicks off and from our findings, we need over 30 staff. What about if we told you you are not computer literate and cannot be employed?
He also declared that the Amnesty office is ready to support empowerment and ICT training programs for the youths of the region.
“We have always said that it is very important to teach a man how to fish rather than giving him fish.
“We will still come to a round table to discuss. So, why don’t we use the table in the first place rather than fighting?
“We have fought the struggle and have reached a level where we can come in with ideas to better our sons, but before now the Niger Delta is known as one of the volatile troublesome of the country but as I speak with you our Ijaw nation is among the most peaceful in the entire Nigeria.
“So, we in the PAP office are ready to partner with such programs. We are happy with the spokesman of the IYC and we are ready to support him and maintain this relationship.
“We are tired of this constant demonstration. Tomorrow Mbiama Road has been blocked, the other day Government House has been blocked. We are saying that we have gotten to the level where you come with ideas and you know that ideas they say rule the world,” he stated.
Earlier in his speech, Ekerefe commended Diri and Ndiomu for their partnership that enabled him to train over 80 Ijaw youths and provide them with laptops.
The IYC spokesman assured that the council will also embark on scouting for opportunities in the private sector and multinational companies to integrate those trained into the employment scheme.
“This is a clear paradigm shift from what the Ijaw Youth Council used to be and to other institutions of government, multinational companies. I think there is no better time than now for them to do projects like this because they are the ones carrying exploration activities in this region.”
He also called on government agencies and multinationals to support the initiative of his office in a bid to use the ICT training and empowerment scheme to sustain the needed peace in the region.
“It will be good if they can support us so we can train more youths. Clearly you have seen that the IYC is gradually moving out of violence as it were into a productive engagement which has to do with the human capital of our youth.
“You cannot talk about agitation these days because the world is a global village. While we are doing the normal agitation, while our boys are on the front line, we should also have an army of young vibrant ICT compliant youth that can also propagate the message that is what is important.
“Even the press has not been fair in publishing, when I say the press don’t get it twisted, am talking about the Western press. Nobody can tell our story other than our people, what we are doing is that we are giving a real update to the press and to the public on what is going on,” Ekerefe noted.