Niger Delta: Youths, Stakeholders Task State Govts on Human Capacity Building

Niger Delta: Youths, Stakeholders Task State Govts on Human Capacity Building

  • Over one thousand stakeholders from the nine Niger Delta states gathered in the region on Saturday, February 19
  • The participants gathered to witness the second edition of the Niger Delta MSME Summit held in Asaba, Delta state
  • The high point of the event was the sharing of heart-touching testimonies by some successful business owners in the Niger Delta

Asaba - As part of conscious efforts to change the negative narrative of Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region, young professionals have tasked governors of the region to invest more in human capacity building and create purposeful opportunities for young people, especially entrepreneurs.

The initiative was set by stakeholders who gathered at the 2nd Niger Delta MSME Summit held on Saturday, February 19, in Asaba, Delta state, with the theme: 'Stimulating MSMEs Growth Towards Post Covid-19 Recovery.'

Niger Delta youth summit
Cross-section of participants at the summit in Asaba. Delta state. Photo credit: @OfficialNYPF
Source: Twitter

They advocated that governments of the region must move away from the political tradition of just signing and awarding contracts, to strategic empowerment and support for innovative creative minds in the region.

The event jointly organized by the Niger Delta Young Professionals (NDYP) and the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum (NYPF), was a sequel to the pioneer edition held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital in February 2021.

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Delivering his opening remarks at the event, the chairman of the NYPF and convener of the summit, Mr Moses Siloko Siasia, explained that the event was aimed at creating a platform for young business owners to interface with agencies of government and stakeholders.

He added that the platform will give an opportunity for small business owners to access information, credit, get support facilities, as well as build strategic relationships and networks.

The summit according to him, will also go a long way in changing the wrong perceptions of militancy and other forms of unrest that many associate the region's youthful population with.

His words:

“Today, if you go to Google and search for Niger Delta youths, what you will see are youths with guns inside speed boat and all those bad stuff.
“We must change that, we must change that negative narrative, this is not the narrative of the Niger Delta people, our leaders must help us to change that narrative because the time for politics is over in today's world.
“We are in the 4th industrial revolution where people are using digital intelligence and technology to change the world's economies.
“We must conform to modern reality and that is why we are doing this MSME Summit to help our young people so that they can build the capacity to create a sustainable livelihood for themselves, their family, and the society.”

Siasia called on successful corporate titans from the region to deliberately leave footprints in the hearts of the young ones, stressing that charity begins at home.

On his part, the executive secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Wabote acknowledged that Nigeria ranks poorly in terms of human capacity development index.

Wabote who was represented by the board's general manager, capacity development, Dr. Ama Ikuru, said:

“The discussions we are having at this Summit can change the narrative. We want to see the emergence of young entrepreneurs and support them to succeed. We want to put tools in their toolboxes to ensure the security and economic prosperity of our nation.”

He informed the audience that the NCDMB has interventions in place to help promote entrepreneurship such as the $350million Nigerian Content Intervention Fund to help businesses in the oil and gas industry.

He added that the NCDMB will continue to associate and support anything that is in the best interest of the good people of Nigeria, especially its vibrant youth population.

The third edition of the Niger Delta MSME Summit will be held at Akwa Ibom in 2023.

How NYPF prepared for the 2nd Niger Delta MSME Summit had earlier reported that a statement issued by organisers of the summit said the event is aimed at consolidating on the gains of the inaugural edition.

According to the organisers, the event is timely and apt and needed to change the narrative of the Niger Delta, by strategically engaging the youths to dissuade their minds from violence, drug abuse, cultism, and other criminal vices.

While stressing that such event is needed in the region, Siasia said other states in the oil-rich region must now take a cue from states like Delta, Akwa Ibom, and Edo in driving human capacity development.

Post-oil economy: How young professionals held inaugural summit in Port Harcourt

In the inaugural Summit last year, over 300 Niger Deltans who participated benefited from the NIRSAL intervention loan for small business owners.

Among other things, the summit helped to generate a database of all the existing small businesses in the region while galvanizing stakeholders' buy-in for the strengthening of businesses operating in the Niger Delta region to facilitate their sustainable growth.

The summit was attended by young business owners between the ages of 18 and 45, with events that included product showcases, main-stage keynotes, interactive sessions, style breakouts, business-to-business meetings, mentoring sessions, and networking opportunities.


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