The Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Professor Claudius Daramola, has appealed to youths in the region to embrace peace to attract development to the area.
Daramola made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Okitipupa, Ondo State, on Friday.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari‘s administration was committed to refocusing the energies of intervention agencies toward sustainable development and youth empowerment.
“We call on all youths to eschew violence and embrace peace. It is only when we embrace peace that development can come to an area,” he said.
According to him, the frequency of cult clashes, violence and destruction of oil and gas pipelines among youths in the region is embarrassing and constituting a clog in the wheel of progress.
“No development will take place if the youths continue their violent behaviour,” he said.
Daramola promised that the ministry would continue to improve the lives of the people of the region, especially the youths and women.
“As we undertake to develop the Niger Delta and build capacity, we will ensure that the youths and women are not left out because they have the capacity to contribute meaningfully. It is important to be loyal and cooperate as government rolls out some programmes for development of our region. We will soon embark on an empowerment programme in the region that will touch so many lives,” he said.
The minister urged all the people to thrown their weight behind the change mantra of the present government. He advised them to take advantage of the huge resources available in the region to empower themselves, especially in the area of agriculture.
He said that reducing unemployment among the youths was a top priority for the Federal Government.
“The Niger Delta region is key to the Nigerian economy, and reducing poverty in the region is top priority of government. But the disruption of government activities and vandalism of oil installations by those who are dissatisfied is a matter of great concern.”
He, however, said that ministry was set to commence a series of stakeholder engagements within and outside the region toward addressing restiveness.
The minister government had to explore dialogue as an option because some people were trying to exploit the security challenges to attack pipelines and cause tension in the region.
“The call for persons with grievances to embrace dialogue is not an indication of weakness on the part of the government. Rather, we are in a democracy and people should be allowed to ventilate their grievances without recourse to violence. If their complaints are genuine and reasonable, they will be looked into,” he said.
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