The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is set to roll out a talent hunt programme to discover and expose creative youths and women of the Niger Delta region to take advantage of the thriving entertainment industry.
Speaking during a meeting with some key actors in the creative industry at the Rivers State office of the NDDC in Port Harcourt, the Interim Administrator, Mr. Efiong Akwa, said that NDDC will continue to create programmes to address the challenges of youths in the Niger Delta region.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer, represented by the Director Youths and Sports, Mr. Offiong Ephraim, stated that the talent hunt programme will accommodate all categories of youths, including those that are physically challenged.
He affirmed that NDDC would continue to execute programmes that would engage the youths meaningfully, stating that the Commission was passionate and committed to youth development as part of measures to end youth restiveness in the Niger Delta.
The NDDC boss stressed the importance the Commission attached to partnerships that would enhance the development of youths, women and people living with disabilities. He assured that the Commission would not relent in introducing programmes that would provide opportunities for youths to excel.
In his own speech, the Special Adviser on Youths to the Interim Administrator, Engr. Udengs Eradiri, said that it was important to debunk the notion that Niger Delta youths were not enterprising.
He stated: “We have a lot of energetic, strong and intelligent young people. We are going to train them to ensure that they are prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. The creative industry is one area where young people thrive. We will partner with known artistes in the region as ambassadors to also pull the other ones up.”
Eradiri explained that the partnership with known artistes from the Niger Delta was meant to develop the talents of youths from across the region, stating: “The creative industry is one area that we can engage a lot of idle young people. We will continue to play our role in supporting institutions to create the platform to push our young people to the international society. We must keep the creative sector alive in the Niger Delta to develop young talents to showcase to the world.”
One of the leading artistes in the region, Mr Okiri Harry, better known as Harry Song, said that the new NDDC youth programme was a dream come true for those in the creative sector, noting that 80 per cent of the entertainment industry was rooted in the Niger Delta.
He said that artistes from the region had over the years had challenges of getting support and platforms to express themselves, stressing: “Our talented youths are yearning for avenues to express themselves and that is where the Niger Delta talent hunt comes in.”
Harry said that the Niger Delta Youth Entertainment Talent Hunt, NIDETH, would organize auditions in all the nine states of the region and organize bands for them, adding: “We intend to make stars from this platform.
“We are going to bring in all our Niger Delta Ambassadors in the entertainment industry. These great artistes will be brought in to inspire the young and up-coming ones. We know that when we engage our youths in this platform, we will not just take them off the streets but we will empower them.”
In a related development, the President of Miss Niger Delta Organization, Prince Sodin, applauded the NDDC for encouraging the youths to realize their potentials, observing that it was important to let the world know the positive attributes of the young people in the region.
Sodin remarked: “We need to let the world know that we have a beautiful region that should attract investors and we thank the NDDC for being behind the success story we have recorded in the last 20 years.”
He congratulated Udengs Eradiri for his appointment to manage youth affairs in the NDDC.