The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has commended the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, for training 200 youths on computer technology under its skill acquisition programme.
Akpabio stated this during the graduation ceremony of trainees, drawn from the nine Niger Delta states, in Computer Skills Acquisition programme, at the Law Auditorium of the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
The Minister, who spoke through the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Babayo Ardo, said that technology, especially information and communication technology, had changed our world and affected the way we live our lives.
He stated: “We must either adopt and fully embrace it or be left behind by the rest of the world. NDDC made a bold decision to spearhead this. They plan to situate the Niger Delta Region at the centre of such a revolution in Nigeria. What you see today is the product of that decision.”
Akpabio said he was delighted to come to Niger Delta to celebrate the success and milestones being accomplished for the people by the NDDC, stating: “I thank the management and staff of NDDC for giving me this platform to address you, with the conviction that I inspire another crop of bright Niger Deltans.”
The Minister commended the NDDC and other stakeholders in the project ‘Niger Delta’ for their continuous support and encouragement towards building the Niger Delta of “our shared dreams.”
He noted: “Among the significant difficulties of Niger Delta are youth restiveness, unemployment and under employment as well as youth disengagement with the productive sector. The thrust of the Niger Delta Ministry polices and NDDC management vision is to tackle the youth problems.
“The greater their knowledge and skills set, the greater their propensity to work, the more outstanding their productivity, and the greater the nation’s economic well-being.”
He charged the graduating trainees to go out to conquer and succeed, noting: “Failure is not an option. Never rest until you achieve your goals. Resist the temptation to go back to your comfort zone and relapse back to unproductivity and the familiar and convenient mind-set of blaming society and government for misfortunes in life. Knock on all ‘doors’ and assume your ‘doors’ of opportunities will be opened.”
Akpabio said that the common goal was to develop the Niger Delta and make it a preferred place of choice for people to live in, do business, and enjoy their lives. “As Niger Deltans, it is our collective responsibility to make this goal come true. I therefore, implore organisations, both private and public to absorb and engage these graduates as IT professionals,” he said.
Earlier in his welcome address, the NDDC Interim Administrator, Mr Efiong Akwa, said that the ceremony may not have taken place but for the intervention of the Minister, who charged the Commission to ensure the conclusion of the ICT training programme.
He said: “I discovered that two years after the training ended, the consultants had not been paid. All the training consultants were also being owed. I immediately informed the Minister and he directed that all our obligations should be expeditiously met, so that these young men and women would begin to enjoy the full benefits embedded in the training.
“When the Commission conceived this programme, we hoped to give the trainees immediate information technology skills as a value added programme to existing educational qualifications. This would empower them towards either establishing small-scale businesses or acquiring enough knowledge to advance further in the IT world.
Akwa said that the Commission’s objectives were to develop the human, as well as the community by providing the youths and indigenes with relevant skills which were required to compete in the work force, as well as provide the opportunities and skills for self-employment.
The other goal, he said, was to provide an avenue for useful engagement and human capital development by providing the youths a viable alternative to unwholesome, disruptive activities. “Ultimately, this would move our people from destructive to constructive engagements,” he said.
Akwa said that the Commission aimed to develop manpower for the Niger Delta, thereby boosting employment, noting that the employment of one person goes a long way in assisting both the individual, the family and the community.
He affirmed: “Altogether, the Commission is graduating 200 youths today, offering them an opportunity to add to the information technology revolution sweeping through the globe. The Niger Delta cannot be left behind. I believe that the future of the Niger Delta region lies in what we do today, by creating the enabling environment for sustainable growth, and preparing the youths to be the best that they can.
The best graduating student from the IICT training, Mr Lawrence Ehime, expressed delight over the training offered to him and his colleagues by the NDDC. He said: “In the past when Niger Delta youths are mentioned, what comes to mind is agitation. I am glad that NDDC has introduced programmes to change the narrative.”