THE Federal Government has increased the number of Ogoni youths benefiting from its various livelihood Programmes from 5,000 to 10,000.
The Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, announced this on Thursday during an anti-bunkering re-pollution sensitisation workshop and award of certificates ceremony in Saakpenwa, Tai Local Government Area of Rivers.
Represented by Prof. Philips Shekwolo, Director of Technical Services, Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), Abdulahi said the beneficiaries would be trained on various professional skills in oil, gas and maritime sector.
“So, the livelihoods programme is for all Ogoni youths, including those who are engaged in illegal oil bunkering activities.
“The ministry has increased the number of beneficiaries for this Programme from 5,000 to 10,000, and increased the areas of training.
“The additional training are seafaring, aviation and oil and gas. We included these so that Ogoni youths can be employed in the oil and gas, maritime and aviation sectors,” he said.
Abdullahi said the Federal Government was fully committed to ending the sufferings of the Ogoni people faced by decades of oil spillage that polluted both their underground water and farmlands.
He said the commitment of the government to the clean-up led to HYPREP setting up a Community Representative Advisory Council, to seek an end to illegal bunkering in Ogoniland.
“So, it is not enough to clean up Ogoniland, but to also ensure that the area once cleaned remains cleaned.
“We should do this not just for ourselves but for other generations yet unborn,” he said.
Abdullahi later awarded certificates to 1,000 Ogoni community workers trained in basic remediation techniques in health, safety and environment.
The minister said the Federal Government was also planning to train more indigent Ogoni youths in shoreline remediation, to boost their competences in the industry.
In his keynote address, Prof. Ben Naanen, urged youths in the area against re-polluting Ogoniland through activities in illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism.
“Investigations have shown that the two entities responsible for oil theft in the Niger Delta are oil multinationals and artisanal refiners.
“We must stop illegal refining of crude oil because it destroys both our environment and sources of livelihoods.
“The illegal bunkers said it is hunger and joblessness that pushed them into illegal oil bunkering. So, this training will ensure that they will no longer engage in oil theft,” Naanen said. (NAN)