The recent visit of the Minister for Youth and Sports, Barrister Solomon Selcap Dalong, to Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company plant (where a long range of passenger cars and commercial vehicles are manufactured) and Innoson’s Kiara Academy, Nnewi, where ex-militants from the Niger Delta are being trained, was indeed a veritable morale booster for the trainees.
Run under the presidential amnesty programme and codenamed E4E (Education for Employment), the exercise is part of Federal Governments efforts to stem restiveness in the Niger Delta, and at the same time empower the youths in the area towards a more sustainable livelihood.
The youthful minister was at the Enugu and Nnewi facilities of the Innoson Group preparatory to the plan by the ministry to go into partnership with the auto plant and the academy towards the empowerment of more youths in the country.
And, coming only a couple of months after the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme, Brig-Gen Paul T. Boro, paid a similar visit, the presence of the minister further underscored the E4E at Innoson as an important tool for youth empowerment and sustenance of peace in the south-south region.
While touring the plant in Nnewi, the minister was pleasantly surprised that such a gigantic project was located in that part of the country. He commended the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Innoson Group, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, for his foresight and ingenuity in setting up the vehicle company. Dalong commended the trainees for taking a wise decision by accepting to undergo the training. He made them understand that in no distant time they would realise that the training had changed their lives for better with the future bright. “You have taken a wise decision as you accepted to do this training which will help you become self-reliant tomorrow. It requires patience and being focused to be able to justify your stay here. The Federal Government meant well for you and would not like the youths to be wasted because the youths are the strong bone of any nation,” the minister told them. Impressed that so many young people embraced the programme, the minister said that the initiative is an indication that the Federal Government is interested in ensuring a brighter future for the young ones. “We are interested to see more young people trained, more young people empowered, so that they can cater for themselves and other dependants. It should be clear to the youths of this nation that there are many opportunities in this country. If vehicles are manufactured and assembled here, it means Nigeria is already moving very fast ahead of some other nations of the world in its own unique technology. And this is something that can only be driven by the young people who are custodians of the future. They cannot participate if they are not properly trained,” Dalong remarked. He noted that the ex-militants’ submission to do the training had proved wrong the negative publicity about the Niger Delta youths as, according to him, majority of the trainees were from the Niger Delta, adding that it meant there were young people from that part of the country who were concerned about building their future. The minister was optimistic that they would succeed in this regard since they are being empowered and strengthened through the programme. On how government could further support companies like the Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited which set up the training academy, Barrister Dalong said: “That is why we are here to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the company. We are open and ready to synergise with the company, to partner with it in order to build mutual and strong relationship for the benefit of Nigerian youths.” Innoson Kiara Academy in Nnewi is supported by the Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited under the Education for Empowerment Programme for Niger Delta youths in partnership with the Presidential Amnesty Office. According to the Chief Excutive Officer, Mr. Endi Ezengwa, it is a well organised training centre where trainees are taught automobile assembly from scratch to finish, as well as auto mechanics and welding and a host of other engineering work aviation maintenance.
The Minister of Youth and Sports’ tour was preceded a week earlier by a courtesy visit to his office in Abuja, by Dr. Chukwuma and members of Innoson management who were invited to discuss possible partnership and collaboration on youth empowerment and development.
“During the visit, we made a presentation to him on the potentials and capabilities of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company and Innoson Kiara Academy. The minister while going through some of our brochures was really amazed that such innovations were taking place in Nigeria. Instantly, he promised that he would pay a courtesy visit to our company in a weeks time. We thought it was one of those political statements, but I was amazed that in less than 24hrs, our office received an official correspondence from the ministers office, informing us of his official visit to our company,
Some of the ex-militants used the opportunity offered by the visit to renew their call to the Federal Government to extend the duration of their training to one and a half years, in order to be fully equipped with knowledge and empowered for the future.