Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Next phase of militancy will be tough, Niger Delta youth warns Nigeria, oil companies

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The youth want full incorporation into the oil and gas industry.

Niger Delta youth on Thursday warned Nigerian government and international oil and gas companies, IOCs, to expect a tough battle in the emerging phase of militancy in the region if they are not prepared to accommodate its former members who have acquired various skills under the Amnesty programme.

“We are moving to a new phase of militancy in the Niger Delta,” the Technical Assistant in the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Lawrence Pepple, said.

“This is a phase where the fight would not be with arms and ammunitions, but with skills, intellectual capacity and ideas. We are not blackmailing anybody. But, let it be known that it will tough, if adequate preparations are not made to accommodate them,” he added.

Mr. Pepple said in Abuja at the closing session of the 2013 Nigeria Oil & Gas, NOG, conference and exhibition that the next phase of the campaign would not involve arms, but use of vocational skills and intellectual capacity acquired from the various trainings at home and abroad under the amnesty programme.

Mr. Pepple said the campaign by the former militant groups, which resulted in Nigeria losing more than half of its 2.3 million barrels per day crude oil production capacity and more than N3 trillion revenue, was as a result of the lack of positive engagement of the youth of the region.

With the amnesty programme, he said about 30,000 ex-militants, who renounced militancy to embrace the government’s gesture, have enlisted in various training programmes, with over 9,000 of them graduating with skills in various fields related to the oil and gas industry.

At the moment, he said the list of qualified graduates under the Amnesty programme that has been submitted to the local content office include about 229 of those with fabrication and welding certificate; 299 with boat building certification, while 250 graduated with certification in pipe fitting.

Mr. Pepple said with such abundant skills and qualified people in Port Harcourt, Yenagoa and other parts of the region, the government and its IOCs would be expected to consult the local content office first to cross check available skills and expertise before going abroad to source for such skills to execute their contracts and projects.

“Graduates from the Amnesty Programme are to strengthen the local content development policy of the government to make it succeed. This means that whenever there is a project, the Amnesty Office must be consulted to confirm there is no qualified person in that area before they go outside.

“The Niger Delta cannot afford to have about 30,000 qualified youths looking for jobs, while it still allow people to be brought from outside to do such jobs. All stakeholders must everything possible to see that this is reduced to the barest minimum,” he said.

The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board, NCDMB, Ernest Nwapa, who reviewed the progress of the Board since its inception, said government would do everything to ensure that qualified beneficiaries under the amnesty programme are carried along in its efforts to find lasting peace in the region.

Mr. Nwapa, however, expressed fears about the proposal that only qualified hands from a particular community must be used to execute contracts in the industry, pointing out that it would be difficult and counterproductive, as some communities may not allow persons from other communities engaged in projects, even when they do not have qualified persons for the job.

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