*Says Amnesty beneficiaries will transform Nigerian economy
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, has reaffirmed the federal government’s commitment to the full implementation of the New Vision for Niger Delta, an umbrella initiative aimed at fast-tracking the development of the region and ensuring that communities and people in the oil-rich area benefit from their vast natural endowments.
Osinbajo also stated that beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) for Niger Delta who have been trained in various skills and empowered in their respective trade areas will become the backbone of Nigeria’s economy in no distant time.
“It is not mere rhetoric when I say that young people are at the heart of our vision for the Niger Delta,” Osibanjo noted.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony for 137 PAP beneficiaries in Lagos, the vice president told the graduands that there are opportunities for linkages with relevant agencies for loans, grants and technical support for their prospective businesses.
He assured that the federal government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari will continue to work to create an enabling environment for beneficiaries of the programme to actualide their aspirations.
Osibanjo, who was represented on the occasion by a director in his office, Mrs. Lauren Braide, described the Amnesty Programme as a much-needed intervention developed and implemented as part of a larger developmental agenda for the Niger Delta region.
“I have no doubt that what you have learnt from this Programme will translate into significant personal and professional advancement for you and into great benefit for your communities and for the Nigerian economy as a whole.
“The kinds of skills you have acquired in this programme are the backbone, the engine of Nigeria’s economy. Without our artisans, our technicians, our small business people, Nigeria’s economy would be a vastly less productive one,” he said.
He noted that PAP has made available start-up kits and packages for the beneficiaries’ use, admonishing them to ensure that the use the items for the purpose for which they have been given to them.
“As you proceed from here, never forget that hard work and integrity are non-negotiable, and will make all the difference you seek. As fashion designers, leather workers and technology professionals, apart from your service skills, the most important asset you will have will be your reputation – for honesty, diligence and reliability,” he admonished.
In his opening remarks, the PAP Coordinator, Prof. Charles Dokubo, said henceforth, beneficiaries of the Programme will immediately be given starter packs at the end of their training for them to commence their businesses.
Dokubo’s Special Assistant (Media), Mr. Murphy Ganagana, said in a statement that the PAP Coordinator noted that the 137 beneficiaries cutting across the entire Niger Delta region and are to receive their starter packs at the end of their graduation ceremony, were products of six months of meticulous and painstaking training in fashion and design, leather works as well as Information and Communication Technology.
“In my just over one year in office, the PAP has trained over 1, 500 delegates in vocational skills. In addition to the above, over 800 other delegates are undergoing various training programmes in about 20 qualified local training partners for duration of three to six months.
“The uniqueness of today’s graduation is that the delegates would receive instant empowerment. It is the first of its kind in the history of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
“It has been observed that from the inception of PAP that after completing their training, delegates would have to wait a considerable amount of time before being empowered. This basically is as a result of the tight budget within which the Programme operates.
“But we intend to make a statement here and change the narrative. Be that as it may, over 1,200 delegates have been empowered during my tenure,” Dokubo disclosed.