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The Niger Delta Youth in Nigeria's Development Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Henry Ekwuruke, Nigeria Apr 20, 2007
Environment , Human Rights   Opinions


The Niger Delta Youth in Nigeria's Development
But the story of Niger Delta is not only that of youth militancy. Some organizations like Amnesty International, Environmental Rights Action Network, Friends of the Earth and others have engaged in very useful environmental activism and written reports drawing attention to the environmental situation in the area. These injustices could be addressed immediately creatively and honestly.

Partly as a result of the agitation by the people of the Niger Delta, the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) was set up under the then Military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida. It failed like the others before and after it to resolve the Niger Delta problems since it failed to incorporate the key stakeholders – the youth. The current Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) of President Olusegun Obasanjo, is still grappling with the issues of development and one cannot expect it to solve the huge developmental and environmental crisis in the area. The core reason of the failure of these commission and initiatives being that as palliative programmes they stop short of addressing the issues of youth development and youth concerns amongst others and also fail to work with the youth, for youth and with little knowledge of what the local youths want and think for a secured future.

These challenges can only be addressed by looking at the issues involved more creatively and critically and with deeper understanding. Recent military operations at the region can only exacerbate the already heated situation and thereby making the area ungovernable and accessible, with its attendant anarchy and loss of revenue. Hopefully this is not the outcome envisaged for Nigeria and it is far from what the Niger Delta youth are asking for.

Dialogue must be the key to resolving the impasse. In the process of dialogue, other fundamental issues facing the region will need to be addressed. The main causes of youth restiveness and militancy in the region can then be addressed from the root: lack of development, inequality in distribution of benefits from oil proceeds/ derivation, unemployment, lack of incentives, etc. proper confidence building resolutions should be reached then. All the tiers of governance, local authorities and youth and youth networks must sit down together, meet to overcome these challenges!

Focus should be on youth because youth are the today and future of the Niger Delta. Therefore, and as a matter of urgency, as the discuss continues the government should increase awareness in education and further improve the condition of schools, youth friendly social centers for sports and recreation and ICTs should be set up, skills acquisition/ entrepreneurship development centers should be set up and fully equipped to provide entrepreneurship training for self help and development, job opportunities with good pay should be created and scholarships be made available for aspiring youths to be educated and have sustainable livelihoods.

The New Niger Delta master Plan for Development created by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the Nigerian government and the Second edition of the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) should imbibe these practical far-reaching practical solutions for Niger Delta development and peace.

These measures may not be far-reaching enough unless the government finds a constitutional satisfactory means to increase the derivation percentage to the Oil producing areas and ensure that the funds given to the Niger Delta Development are judiciously used for development purposes that touch the core of the lives of the generality of people in the area through report based implementation.

Niger Delta region’s resources, above all things has to be made to work for the poor indigenes and all, by involving the youth in the development strategies leadership, planning, programming, and implementation and auditing. I don’t think there exist a better option to its development!

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Henry Ekwuruke

Henry Ekwuruke is Executive Director of the Development Generation Africa International.
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