the paralysis in the LGAs is a security challenge because a lot of the councils have failed to embark on projects that would involve the youths.
Barely three weeks after the amnesty period expired, experts in the state have proffered measures through which the authorities can contain the challenges that would trail the exercise.
The experts made public their views during the study tour of officers of the Nigerian Defence College, Abuja in Rivers State.
A security chief in the state while speaking on the successes and challenges of security agencies in the state decried the lack of adequate technology and facilities to strengthen security.
He stated that with enormous arms proliferation in the region, the level of policemen and surveillance need to be beefed up to reduce violent crimes and other social vices.
Citing kidnapping as one vice that needed to be curbed, he advocated for new legislation to regulate ownership and acquisition of GSM telephone lines.
He argued that GSM had aided kidnappers in the crime of abducting people, saying if a law was promulgated to enable network providers to aid security agents in tracking down the hoodlums, kidnapping would be curbed.
The security chief, who decried the poor number of police personnel to keep surveillance over the state, recommended the need to provide close Circuit Television (CCT) to monitor the metropolis.
Also, he suggested that serious checks on the state’s borders should ber mounted to avert the infiltration of criminal elements into the state.
The Rivers Police Chief revealed that majority of the kidnapping cases are being perpetrated by neighbouring states of Abia and Imo.
The same view was held by the state Director of State Security Service, Mr. Bassey Etteh who described the challenges in the state as unique due to its economic importance as the hub of oil and gas activities.
With the influx of people into Port Harcourt, Mr. Etteh observed that security had become difficult coupled with the challenge at the waterfronts.
He decried a situation where the waterfronts developments had been given an ethnic colouration, thereby making it difficult for the government to redevelop the area.
The SSS boss, called on the authorities to provide employment for the state’s teeming youths, saying when youths are unemployed, they fall prey to social vices.
He pointed out that the challenge of containing the after effects of militancy would be made more difficult if developments at the local areas were
not given priority attention.
His words, “the paralysis in the LGAs is a security challenge because a lot of the councils have failed to embark on projects that would involve the youths.”
Mr. Etteh, however, commended the state Government for evolving youth programmes, especially the rehabilitation programme which in his view had been a major success in accommodating those who have benefited from the amnesty.
If the rehabilitation exercise is sustained, he submitted that it would be difficult for the militants to go back to their old ways, as they would be easily re-integrated into the society.
In his submission, Chairman of the state Rehabilitation Committee, Chief Albert Horsfall represented by Chief Emmanuel Chike remarked that since the establishment of the body in 2008, it had achieved tremendous achievements in the area of rehabilitating repentant militants.
So far, he stated that the body had trained about 200 youths in different trades and skills in order to provide them gainful employment after their training.
Part of the scheme, he stated was the collaboration the SRC had struck with some microfinance banks, on how to provide soft loans for the repentant militants.
In his words, “there is need to salvage the youths now,” warning that the way things were going the state might experience a generational gap and huge loss of manpower.
Already, he disclosed that plans were underway to absorb another 300 youths, following the graduation of 200 last month.
Currently, he said, the objection of the scheme was being met but pointed out that the Committee is facing the challenge of expanding the facility to accommodate more of the ex-militants due to the amnesty programme.
To further ensure that the youths were kept on track, he disclosed that a monitoring team had been established by the committee to oversee their activities after graduation.
In a similar vein, Chairman of the State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA), Mr. Bolaji Ogunseye said the agency was established to curb youth unemployment.
With emphasis on agriculture, education and skill acquisition, Mr. Ogunseye said so far the body had expended not less than N1 billion on projects.
Prior to its establishment, the RSSDA’s boss stated that there was high unemployment rate with youth apathy to productive ventures.
He submitted that there was need to change the entitlement mentality by the youths. This he explained exists because a lot of the young people in the state believed that they were supposed to be paid some money without involving in any productive venture.
Harping on the need for entrepreneurship amongst the youths, he tasked tertiary institutions and other educational institutions to go beyond producing job- seekers to enterpreneurs.
As a result of the huge gap in the nation’s educational institutions to train future entrepreneurs, he declared that the agency had introduced the Graduate Work Experience, (GWE).
Under the scheme, he stated that jobless graduates had been linked with employers of labour. At present, he said it was being run with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).
About 78 banks he claimed had absorbed some of the youths and beneficiaries get stipends of about N40,000 paid to them by the RSSDA and employers.
Mr. Ogunseye disclosed that by next month another batch of 100 graduates would be involved, before they would be engaged some security checks would be conducted on them.
Another scheme evolved by the agency in curbing youth restiveness, Mr. Ogunseye asserted was in the area of scholarship. With scholarship, he stated, youths are transformed by accessing good education facilities within and outside the country.
The RSSDA boss disclosed that about 500 indigenes of the state were now in various countries of the world studying special crouses in oil/gas, medicine and engineering. “We have about 190 students in the UK, about 100 are being packaged again.
“We have 146 in Canada, 97 in Singapore in IT and management and 115 in India for IT. The world needs about 45 million in the IT industry and India cannot provide enough and so we want Rivers State to be amongst those that would fill in those spaces.
Commenting on the political, social and economic realities in Rivers State, Secretary to the State Government, Hon. Magnus Abe told the NDC participants that the present administration is doing all it can to empower the youths.
Hon. Abe insisted that almost all policies of the Amaechi led administration were directed towards giving the youths a new lease of life.
Most especially, he noted, that young people were majorly involved in the governance of the state, noting that more than half of the councillors in local councils were youths between the age of 25 and 35 years thuggery.
He said, “there is no barrier in this administration, as far as one is capable of showing the right qualities. The only thing we are not doing is that from the inception, we said we are not going to be involved in hungry and savage character. It is a taboo in our system.”
On ways to curb the Niger Delta impasse, Hon. Abe noted that the states in the region were forming a synergy in the area of economic cooperations; a fallout of the economic summit held in Calabar few months ago.
He further declared, “Between us and Bayelsa we have been able to improve in the areas of cooperation.”
In his submission, Commandant of the NDC, Rear – Admiral G.J. Jonah opined that they are in support of the vision and strategy adopted by the Rivers State Government in empowering the youths.
For the amnesty to be fully realised, he stressed the need for sustainability of the programmes on ground. In addition, he said the youths need to be fully integrated into the society through value orientation and productivity.