Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri’s re-election bid received a boost on Monday as the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the National Union of Bayelsa State Students (NUBSS) endorsed him and his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, for a second term.
They gave the endorsement at the first-ever students summit in the state organised by the Bayelsa State Students Management Committee.
The aim of the summit is to equip students with entrepreneurial skills.
Speaking on behalf of the students, President of the NUBSS Worldwide, Dennis Ebobra, said the endorsement was as a result of the governor’s developmental projects not only in the education sector but in virtually all sectors.
Ebobra said their support was to reciprocate the huge investment of the Diri administration in education and that they will ensure the governor returns to office to continue with his good policies for the sector and the state.
Also, the NANS Zone B Coordinator, Comrade Kings Tamarautuapreye, lauded the governor for sustaining the Higher Education Students Loans Scheme, which has assisted many indigent students to continue their studies.
He said the students were happy with the governor’s administration and that their endorsement was easy because of his achievements and fatherly disposition.
President of the Niger Delta University Students Union Government, Precious Apiri, equally thanked the governor for the infrastructural development in the state’s pioneer university, especially the construction of a convocation arena that he recently approved for the institution.
In his remarks, Governor Diri described the theme of the programme: “Transcend: Upscaling Bayelsa State Students on Entrepreneurship and Self-Development” as apt, saying it was in line with his administration’s policy on entrepreneurial development.
The governor noted that the objective of his administration was to stimulate entrepreneurship by equipping the youths with skills that would make them self-employed and employers of labour.
He hinted that his administration would initiate a floating fund that would enable young Bayelsans engage in businesses after graduating from the tertiary institution.
According to him, the aim is to move Bayelsa from a consumer to a production state.
He said the administration had backed words with action by encouraging four small-scale entrepreneurs with the sum of N200,000 each monthly in the 105 wards across the state.
He thanked the students for their peaceful disposition on the various campuses, which has translated to a peaceful state and urged them to focus on their studies.
He said: “The topic of this summit is apt. Entrepreneurship is the way our government is going. We are going toward skills acquisition.
“We have to move toward productive students that will stand tall among other youths even in other places. Youths that will be employers of labour and not begging to be employed. That is the essence of prosperity that we talk about.
“Higher institutions and universities are the training grounds for leaders. For you to be successful in leadership and entrepreneurship, you must go through these institutions.
“I have put this before the Deputy Governor, the Commissioner for Education and all those handling such affairs to explore ways to cater for students post-NYSC after graduation so that in the acquistion of skills and in entrepreneurship, the government would provide a floating fund for all Bayelsa graduates. Rather than going about looking for jobs, you become employers of labour.
“No society can grow beyond its level of education. We can build all the roads and bridges but if our people are not educated, all of that would be at the expense of our manpower development. I like this state to move away from a civil service tag to an entrepreneurs state. The students and youths are the focus.
“I like to also thank the students for the way you have conducted yourselves; the way you have brought peace to various institutions of learning. That has added to the peace, security and stability of our state.”
Earlier, the Commissioner for Education, Dr. Gentle Emelah, stressed the need to educate the youths and instil in them skills that would prepare them for future challenges.
Vice Chancellor of the Niger Delta University, Prof. Allen Agih, expressed gratitude to the state government for organising the programme.
He described the African continent as the wealth of the world but expressed regrets that the people lacked the requisite entrepreneurial skills to harness the vast mineral resources that the continent was endowed with.
His Bayelsa Medical University counterpart, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, on his part, said Bayelsa youths were endowed with great potential and lauded the Prosperity Government for putting up the programme to unlock such potential.
Prof. Etebu urged the youths to be committed and confident in whatever skill they have chosen for themselves.
Other student leaders who spoke were the former NANS Zone B Coordinator, Comrade Tari Ekadi, presidents of the University of Africa, Toru-Orua and the Federal University Otuoke students unions among others.
Governor Diri later presented the keys of Sienna vehicles to some of the students organisations in the state, including NUBBS, NANS Zone B, National Association of Joint Students Campus Council, National Union of Izon Ibe Students Worldwide and the NDU Students Union Government.
The students also presented a life-sized portrait of the governor, a plaque and muffler to the governor.