A Niger Delta-based nongovernmental organisation, One Love Community Development and Promotion of Peace Initiative, on Saturday empowered over 200 youth in the region’s creeks in pursuance of a crisis free region.
The programme, which held at the Youbebe Community town hall Ogulagha Kingdom in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, was the first stage in a youth training project in such skills as electrical engineering, welding, fabrication, fashion designing, among others.
“This youth orientation programme is primarily driven to re-orient the Niger Delta youth about the need to engage in activities that will lead to the overall development of the region and society in general,” said Godspower Tomone, a Niger Delta activist and founder of the NGO.
Mr. Tomone charged the youth to be ambassadors of peace, stressing that beneficiaries should make full utilization of the opportunity given to them while noting that development will continue to elude a volatile environment.
He also condemned the spate of violence that has engulfed the region in recent times, adding that peace remains the most viable option for the thorough development of the region.
“You cannot stop a quarrel with a quarrel,” Mr. Tomone said.
“When these youth engage in productive activities, there will be peace, because they won’t have the time for destructive activities, that is what this NGO is focused on achieving.
“We bring them together, orient them, let them know that violence is not the way forward, it’s not the way peace can be achieved, rather it will raise more dust.
“For Niger Delta to be development we need peace, and for peace to be achieved, we need education, not violence, that is why we are orienting the youths for a better tomorrow.”
While calling for partnership from the government and multinational oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region, Mr. Tomone said the NGO’s programmes had been self-sponsored over the years and that the gains to be derived from such peace-oriented venture could not be overemphasized.
The empowerment programme is expected to be conducted in stages monthly: once a new set of youth are engaged, the set before them graduates to another level until it gets to the third round where the youth are expected to pass out with different vocational skills and knowledge depending on their area of interest.
“My message to the government is that they should key into this youth orientation programme,” Mr. Tomone said.
“Most youth, especially from oil producing areas are complaining, if nothing is been done, there is a tendency that they will carry arms and join their peers.
“If these youths are been oriented rightly, everyone will benefit from it, even the government, because hostility will definitely come to an end.”
Clement Oriwabor, the general coordinator and resource person of the NGO, said they are concerned with the happenings in the Niger Delta region.
“The Federal Government is concerned, the State Government is concerned, the Local Government is concerned and One Love Community Development and Promotion of Peace Initiative is also concerned,” he said.
Paul Preboye, a beneficiary of the programme, said government has abandoned the youth living in the Niger Delta regions.
“This will no doubt bring peace and development because through the NGO, we are being oriented to shun violence of any sort and embrace peace, they are training us and at the same time, helping us develop the gifts in us, thereby making us to engage in productive activities,” Mr. Preboye said.
Another beneficiary, Sarah James, said they learnt skills that would enable them “stand out.”
“Building us to do the right thing at the right time is what this NGO is doing, it is a good thing,” said Ms. James, Secretary, Ogulagha Kingdom Youths Association.
“This will bring peace and development because the NGO is orienting us, making us know that violence is not the way forward, instead, we should shun violence, embrace peace and engage in productive activities.”