Monday, March 1, 2010

UN to train ex-militants, others in Niger Delta

THE United Nations is to support the Federal Government amnesty programme through a mindset and technical education programme for ex-militants, as appropriate solution to youth restiveness and unemployment in the Niger Delta.

The reintegration programme for the ex-militants and unemployed youths, is to be executed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa States.

UNOPS Programme Co-ordinator, Wirba Alidu Yongye, stated this at the presentation a report on job creation and skills' needs assessment covering Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa states, to the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) members and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Port Harcourt recently.

Yongye explained that the Niger Delta job creation and conflict prevention initiative was conceived in recognition of the fact that reintegration of the ex-militants and vulnerable youths into the community is a critical factor and necessary component for sustainable peace and development in the region.

The UN findings according to him, indicated that past reintegration initiative not only in Nigeria, tend to focus more on economic reintegration, forgetting the mindset and socio-psychological disposition of the ex-combatants.

This particular initiative, he said, would include social, economic, psychological development, responsible citizenship, individual and social responsibility, basic human rights, understanding conflict impact, leadership development and access to market opportunities.

He said that the UN intervention was aimed at training the ex-militants and other vulnerable youths in the Niger Delta in technical and vocational skills so that they could make use of opportunities in their communities and to make better choices that could help them develop their livelihood "by engaging them in vocational training, we will be reducing the number of youths that would be idle.

"We will be reducing the number of youths that are not productive and not contributing to the development of their environment. We will be contributing to the self development of these youths so they will be able to make better choices," said Yongye.

He said that the UN would carry out a profile of those who had given up arms and ascertain the kind of training they desired to undergo. He also stated that the number of those to be trained would depend on the capacity of the selected training centres in the three states.

Yongye added that UNOPS was establishing linkages with national and international institutions including the National Institute of Welding, the National Board for Technical Education and international institutions including the United Nations Vocational Education Centre and the Loughborough College, United Kingdom to ensure international accreditation for the technical and vocational education training.

Yongye explained that the UN was already talking with some companies in these three states, as part of their corporate social responsibility, to provide opportunities for the ex-militants and beneficiaries of the programme to undergo industrial attachment.

He observed that most companies corporate social responsibility existing in the Niger Delta did not take into account job creation opportunity for young graduates either from universities or vocational centres. He then called for a change of policy.

OPTS Chairman, Harrison E. Onwo, lauded the United Nations for the initiative which he observed was in tune with the organisation's job creation programme for the region.

He said that the UN intervention simply meant that the OPTS and the government must move fast to solve the problem of youth restiveness and unemployment in the Niger Delta.

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