A group, the Optimistic Outlook Initiative for Niger Delta (OOING), has concluded plans to train no fewer than 30,000 Niger Deltans on entrepreneurship skills within the next one year.
Speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt yesterday, OOING founder, Somi Uranta, said the group would work with relevant stakeholders in the oil industry in order to actualise the project.
Uranta, who stated that beneficiaries of the project would be drawn from the six core Niger Delta states, including Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers, said the aim was to eradicate poverty from the region.
Explaining the futility of total reliance on use of force in the fight against illegal refining of petroleum products,, the OOING founder said youths of the region were not ignorant of the dangers of the illegal business, but they damn all the consequences because they have been pushed to the wall as oil has taken away livelihoods, leaving the majority hopeless in the region.
He said, “We have drawn attention of federal government to what injustice, abuses, deprivations and sufferings happening in the Niger Delta. To alert them that if nothing is done, those we will have to be afraid are the majority youths who has nothing to lose.
“Make no mistake that these able bodied men (kpofire operators) are that ignorant of the consequences of their actions. These are people you have pushed to a point where hunger and deprivation have overwhelmed them to a point where they have become hopeless.
“Under that circumstance, such is not afraid to die. Then he becomes a very dangerous person. They (political power brokers) cannot be flaunting the oil commonwealth, meanwhile where you taking that much wealth from is not taken care of. I don’t know why the hen that bears the golden egg should be left to die of hunger and starvation.”
On alternative options as addressing the problem, Uranta said, “We have made up our mind to work with various stakeholders in the oil industry, governments of the Niger Delta, and have started the recruitment of 5000 youths from each state for entrepreneurship training, to lesson the poverty effect that has taken root in the region.
“What is needed is skills and entrepreneur training. They are going to be trained on soft, entrepreneurial and technical skills, after which we are talking to the Governors of the region, NDDC, Niger Delta Ministry, oil companies, in order to create an endowment fund.
“Such an endowment fund will be fashioned like the Lagos state had sone, so that when people are trained, they can gain seed money to start on their own. And there will monitoring an mentoring to ensure they succeed and contribute to empowering more persons. We have no doubt it will work.”