The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has appealed to youths in the region to flee from drugs, cultism and social vices warning that such practices will negatively impact their future, peace and the development of the region.
The commission in a programme it organised in Calabar, Cross River State, on Tuesday to mark the International Youth Day 2021, identified drugs, cultism and social vices as the tripod of evil threatening to wipe out the youths in the country.
The programme with the theme, Drugs, Cultism and Social Vices amongst Youths, had hundreds of students from various secondary schools, Cross River commissioners for Social Housing, George Obenetchi; International Relations, Inyang Asibong; the police, Boys Brigade and other stakeholders in attendance.
The Interim Administrator, NDDC, Effiong Akwa, said the commission as an interventionist agency identified the youths as critical stakeholders describing them as the future of the country.
Highlighting efforts of the commission to create conducive environment for the youths, Akwa, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Youths and Sports, Udengs Eradiri, said the suspended NDDC scholarship scheme was being reviewed to achieve more positive impact.
He said instead of wasting scarce resources to send students abroad to study courses available in the country, NDDC would spend the resources upgrading schools in the country especially in the region to absorb its scholarship students.
He said as part of the review only students interested in special courses not offered in Nigerian schools would be sent abroad for studies.
Akwa said: “We are reviewing the scholarship scheme. We are trying to reach out to schools in the Niger Delta. We want to go into partnership with these schools, upgrade their facilities to international standard.
“These schools will affiliate with NDDC and will run their programmes seamlessly. Only students for special courses not available in Nigerian schools will be sent abroad for studies”.
Akwa told the stakeholders that the NDDC under the supervision of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, was being repositioned to achieve its original mandate.
He said recommendations contained in the submitted forensic audit report of the commission were undergoing the required process for their implementation.
“We will soon have the reorganised NDDC”, Akwa said adding that the commission was working on various skill acquisition programmes, talent hunt and sports fiesta to positvely engage the youths.
The Lead Facilitator and Chairman, Young Professionals of Nigeria (YPN), Moses Siloko Siasia, commended NDDC for the programme and shared the experience of how he rose to become a successful entrepreneur lamenting that drugs were wiping out the generation of young people in the country.
Siasia, who is the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Mosilo Group of Comapnies, said following the death of his father, he hawked various items, planted flowers for people and resisted temptations to engage in illicit drugs while fighting his way to the top.
Advising the youths, he said: “I had a choice to go into drugs, we lost our father and we saw poverty. Drug abuse and cultism are wiping out our generation. Young people are addicted to drugs. Some are joining cults others have made up their minds to engage in illegal activities. Life is about choices.
“The choice I made many years ago has brought me where I am. I have never tested drugs. I have never joined cultism but today I am being celebrated because I remained focused. Read the stories of richest men in Nigeria. They were not involved in drugs and cultism. You have a choice before you. If you want to take charge of your future.
“You must start small to grow big. People want to be like me but they don’t know what I had grown through. I have over 480 people working for me and at the end of the month I pay salaries”.
The Commissioner for International Relations, Cross River, Inyang Asibong, while lauding NDDC for the programme called for creation more awareness and mentorship to prevent youths from engaging in social vices.
Asibong, who was a former Commissioner for Health, insisted that all stakeholders in the society had roles to play to discourage youths.
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