By Peter Okolie
The Federal Government on Sunday charged 200 Niger Delta ex-agitators, who graduated from the Innoson-Kiara Academy, Nnewi in Anambra, to use their skills positively to grow the economy.
Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh (Rtd), the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, gave the charge at the Batch ‘B’ graduation ceremony.
A statement by the Academy Head, Media and Communication Department, Mr Piriye Kiyaramo, said the ex-agitators underwent a nine months intensive automobile course in automobile manufacturing, engineering and maintenance.
Boroh commended the graduating ex-agitators for making President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government proud in their performance during the training.
The special adviser said the entrepreneurship drive of the Presidential Amnesty Programme was geared toward creating an enabling environment for beneficiaries to develop their full potential in different vocational skills.
“This is with a view to making you lead productive and creative lives in line with the ongoing reintegration process of 30,000 ex-agitators in the Niger Delta region.
“The focus of the Presidential Amnesty Programme is to create the enabling environment for youths in the region, particularly the ex-agitators to have sustainable sources of livelihood as they reintegrate with their communities,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of the academy, Mr Endi Ezengwa, said the trainees were exposed to practical automobile engineering works during their practical training at the factory.
Ezengwa said out of the 199 candidates that sat for the National Technical Certificate (NTC) from the National Business and Technical Examinations Board, 195 bagged distinctions while four others made credits.
He said that Innoson Car Manufacturing Company was willing to absorb the graduands, with a salary of N60, 000 which would be reviewed upwards at the end of a probation period of one year.
However, Ezengwa urged the state governments in the Niger Delta region to create an enabling environment for the graduands to put into practice the skills they have acquired from the academy.
“We encourage the respective state governors to actively engage us to establish mini-automobile factories in the Niger Delta area,” he added.
He commended Boroh for his vision and sincerity in driving the youth empowerment scheme through various vocational trainings, describing him as a “focused man, who has his people at heart”.
Ezengwa said the course covered automobile manufacturing, auto maintenance, auto mechanical, auto electrical, auto painting, welding, among other aspects of the automobile engineering production chain.
He noted that the Amnesty Office under Boroh had introduced innovative approach to fill the manpower gaps in critical skills among youths in the Niger Delta.
Earlier, the Project Coordinator and representative of the Vendor, Mr Momoh Aminu, explained that the rationale for the training was to ensure that beneficiaries were equipped with marketable skills.
“The idea had been for everyone that participates in the training to have mastery of a particular area and then everybody now works compositely toward the end product.
“So far, the trainees have been exceptional because within a short period they have been able to display capacity in assimilating the theory and practical aspects of the training and this is really good for Nigeria.
“At the end of the day, we will be talking about people, who are armed with critical technical skills which the country needs, not just for the development of the Niger Delta area, but for Nigeria in general,” he stressed.
Speaking on behalf of the ex- agitators, President of the trainees, Mr Raphael Ajalaja, expressed satisfaction with the leadership of Boroh, especially the manner he handled the programme.
Ajalaja also expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for giving them such opportunity to be trained at the centre.
Another graduate, Miss Gloria Edward, said the automobile training had developed their capacity to several business opportunities.
Edward urged the Amnesty Coordinator to empower them at the end of the programme to enable them establish their automobile businesses.
High point of the ceremony was the presentation of three vehicles; a bus, 4×4 wheel truck and a 32-seater bus assembled from the scratch to the finish by the ex-agitators.
NAN reports that over 200 youths from the region had earlier benefitted from the programme. (NAN)