Chairman of the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum (NYPF) and Convener of Niger Delta Young Professionals, Mr Moses Siloko Siasia, has said the Nigerian Government is chasing shadows in its quest to tackle the scourge of crude oil theft in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta Region.
He said Governors in the Niger Delta region have neglected the important element of “human infrastructure” development, and are instead focusing on building public infrastructure which may not necessarily impact the lives of the teeming youths of the region.
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This, he said, may make it difficult for oil theft to end in the region, as the government has failed in investing in building the capacity of young people.
Mr Siaisia made this observation on Wednesday in a statement issued in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
He spoke against the backdrop of the recent visit of a delegation of the Nigerian Government to some Governors of the region.
The Federal Government delegation was led by Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva; Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mele Kyari.
The NYPF Chairman berated the country’s political elite for failing to create an enabling environment for youths to thrive.
“Governments in the region 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.
Mr Siasia thus advised that the surest way to curb oil theft in the region, is to ensure the creation of a robust entrepreneurship and skill acquisition programme for young people as well as the institution of a robust framework for deliberate employment and youth engagement.
While commending the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) for their giant strides in improving human capacity development across the region and Nigeria by extension, he called on the Government to deliberately channel resources into building the capacity of young people.
The NYPF boss, who noted that about 75% of youths in the region are idle, worried that the injustice, stealing and mismanagement of Government resources is now a culture and a way of life, adding that there will not be normalcy in a dysfunctional environment.
The Siasia-led NYPF held a Niger Delta Summit for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State in February 2021, and a sequel in Asaba, Delta State in February this year. Both programmes aggressively empowered thousands of youths in the area of entrepreneurship in the region.
Over the years, the Nigerian Government has struggled to tackle oil theft. Due to crude oil theft, Nigeria lost a staggering $1 billion in revenue in the first quarter of 2022, according to Mr Gbenga Komolafe, the head of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission.