Niger Delta youths learn skills from India

Suresh Makhijani, counsellor at the High Commission in Abuja, said teaching skills to youth from the Niger Delta followed months of negotiations between one of the militant groups, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), and the Nigerian government.

MEND was launched in January 2006 after it claimed responsibility for the capture of four foreign oil workers.

It has since been engaged in attacks on oil pipelines and several oil workers which led to reduced oil output in the Niger Delta.

"We have so far sent three batches of Nigerian youth to institutes in India under the government of Nigeria's Skills Acquisition Scheme," Makhijani told IANS.

The first batch of 50 trainees left in July and was sponsored by M/s Sabens Nigeria Limited which is an accredited training partner of the Presidential Amnesty Office.

This group would be in India for six months when they would receive training in underwater welding and commercial diving at Adarsh Institute of Maritime Studies in  Chennai.

Makhijani said: "A second batch of 109 which left in early August was made up of non-militant youths recommended by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs of Nigeria and was sent by M/s Intra Log Engineering Ltd Nigeria for three months' training in oil and gas fields with M/s Creative Technology Ernakulam, Kerala."

Another group also left in August and this comprised 100 trainees selected by the Nigerian government. It was sponsored by M/s Rovin Energy Nigeria Ltd for six  months training in underwater welding, pipeline welding and crane operation at Yak Diving Academy, Navi Mumbai, India.

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