ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, YENAGOA
The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide has declared its readiness to change the ways of engaging authorities and oil multinationals for the development of the Niger Delta region.
The IYC said on Wednesday that the resolution to adopt a new style of engagement with the governments and corporate Nigeria in the region was reached as its current leadership marks its second year in office.
The anniversary was marked with the enrolments of 301 youths from Ijaw communities into Information and Communications Technology (ICT) scheme.
The first batch of benefiting 60 youths are expected to be trained in Computer Programming, Coding and Appreciation and the beneficiaries will be handed starter packs at the end of the training.
The President, IYC, Mr Peter Timothy Igbifa, while speaking during the official launch of the free ICT programme for the youths, noted that though the efforts of the leadership of the youth’s group had not been totally appreciated, the leadership would continue to initiate empowerment schemes to uplift and empower youths of the region.
Igbifa also supported the ICT scheme initiated by the Office of the National Spokesman, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe, with N1m and urged the beneficiaries to remain focused and ensure that skills learnt were used for the benefit of the region.
In his speech, the initiator of the ICT scheme and national spokesman for IYC, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe, said the scheme was initiated to change the narrative of the Ijaw youths worldwide against the repeated combatant approaches by the youths which had yielded little results.
Ekerefe noted that due to the digital age the world is heading, the Ijaw youths and the people of the region could not be left behind and allow oil multinationals to continue refusing to employ Niger Delta youths due to poor ICT knowledge.
He called for partnership between the IYC, oil multinationals and investors in the region on the training and empowerment of youths, declaring that such trainings would discourage sea piracy, kidnapping and other violent crimes.
Also speaking, President, Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof. Benjamin Okaba, represented by the National Vice President, Chief Nengi James, commended the initiator of the ICT scheme and advocated support from multinationals and other stakeholders of the region.
Okaba called on Ijaw indigenes and youths to take advantage of the ongoing online registration of the Ijaw into a digital compendium to keep the Ijaw nation connected to the world.
Also speaking, the former President of IYC, Mr Udengs Eradiri, called on the Governors from the region to come up with their own development programme to save the calamity that is going to befall the region.
Eradiri, who is the Special Adviser on Youths to the Sole Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), commended the IYC leadership for the gesture, pointing out that the rapid changing world today required that young people come to the table with capacity and capability.
He added: “The basic principle and foundation of the Ijaw movement is to build the capacity of young people so that we can take charge of our resources.
“I commend the leadership of the IYC at this time for focusing on the very core principle of the group. You know a lot of people misunderstand the IYC. The council itself was founded to propel economic development of the Ijaw nation, which means that we need to educate our people.”
Earlier in his speech, the Chairman of the occasion and Bayelsa State Commissioner for Ijaw Affairs, Hon. Patrick Erasmus, also commended IYC spokesman Ebilade Ekerefe for initiating the ICT scheme.
He declared that the spokesman had carved a niche for himself by initiating such skills acquisition programme, advising the beneficiaries to have confidence in the programme and ensure that the skills learnt are used to propel themselves in the future.
One of the beneficiaries, Miss Ayebatonye Princess, expressed appreciation to the organisers of the ICT programme, saying it was the way to go, promising that they would not misuse the opportunity.