Convener of Niger Delta Young Professionals, and chairman of the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum (NYPF), Mr. Moses Siloko Siasia, has asserted that Nigeria’s orchestrated effort at fighting oil theft and pipeline vandalism amount to shadow chasing.
In a statement issued in Port Harcourt on Thursday, Siasia referenced the recent visit of a delegation of the federal government to some governors of the region on the menace of crude oil theft.
The federal government delegation was led by the minister of state for petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva; chief of defence staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor and the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mr. Mele Kyari.
According to him, the surest way to curb the menace in the Niger region is to create a robust entrepreneurship and skill acquisition programmes for young people in the region and the institution of a robust framework for deliberate employment and engagement of youths.
He accused the various state governments in the region of having neglected the important elements of ‘human infrastructure’ development, and had been busy focusing on building public infrastructure which may not necessarily impact the lives of the teeming youths.
This, he said, may make it difficult for oil theft to end in the region, as the government has failed in investing in and building the capacity of young people of Niger Delta.
The NYPF chairman berated the country’s political elite who he said are known to be the primary actors of the illegality, adding that they were “using young people to fulfill their evil obligations.”
“Governments in the regions have been focusing on infrastructure, and forgetting the important element of human infrastructure. There must be a deliberate cut out strategy to see how sustainable jobs can be created.
“Over the years we have been advocating and carrying out programmes and encouragement for young people, mostly MSME owners. We foresaw all these things happening from several years ago. We spoke about it and nobody listened.
“It is unfortunate that some of the institutions in the region that are saddled with the task to carry out interventions, have failed in their responsibilities,” he lamented.
While commending the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) for its giant strides in improving human capacity development across the region and Nigeria by extension, he called on the federal government to deliberately channel resources into building the capacity of young people.
The NYPF boss, who noted that 70 to 75% of youths in the Niger Delta are idle, expressed worry that injustice, stealing and mismanagement of government resources are now a culture and a way of life, adding that there will not be normalcy in a dysfunctional environment.
“The youths are left with no choice than to take their destiny in their hands. No jobs, no scholarships, no sustainable youth engagement programs, no skills acquisition centres, no sports development centres, no well equipped youth hubs, no entrepreneurship development centres, no grants or incentives for small businesses, no reward system.
“Today, Nigerian government and officials are busy looking for solutions because the country is losing a lot of revenue as a result of oil theft. Oil theft, kidnapping and criminality will remain inevitable if we don’t focus more on building and engaging our youths in creating sustainable livelihood,” he added.