Niger Delta youths under the umbrella of Diobu Progressive Foundation yesterday stormed the headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to show solidarity with the management of the commission and also ask for more empowerment programmes to build their capacity. The youths, who danced to various solidarity songs, carried placards expressing support for the NDDC Managing Director, Sir Bassey Dan-Abia and President Goodluck Jonathan.
Presenting a petition to the management of the NDDC, the chairman of the youth group, Mr. George Olebunne, said that having distanced themselves from violence and criminality, they expected to be assisted to acquire new skills which would enable them to be self-reliant. “We don’t want to return to the era of militancy but we need to be able to take care of our needs. We want the NDDC to initiate programmes that would enable us acquire skills that can help us to fend for ourselves,” he said.
Addressing the youths, the Special Assistant on youth matters to the NDDC Managing Director, Barr. George Turnah, expressed delight that the days of violent protests were over. He said that by presenting their petition peacefully, the youths had demonstrated that there was an attitudinal change in the region, adding that it meant that the future was bright for them.
He said that the youths in Diobu and Niger Delta in general were very important to the NDDC and as such where the Rivers State Government failed to address their needs, the Commission would not hesitate to intervene. He assured the youths that the Board and Management of NDDC are fully aware of the importance of youths in socio-economic and political development, assuring that the Commission would continue to initiate programmes that would equip the youths for gainful activities.
He said, besides physical infrastructure, the NDDC was making significant difference in the lives of youths through various human Capital development programmes. He said that as part of this human capacity building, the Commission introduced the Technical Aid Corps Scheme which had benefited many unemployed graduates from the region. Furthermore, he said, the NDDC trained over 250 Niger delta youths in different maritime courses at Maritime Academy of Nigeria in Oron.
The spokesman of the Diobu youths, Mr. Aniedi Ernest Thompson, thanked the NDDC for its several youth’s empowerment and human capacity development initiatives and urged the Commission to do more for them.