Mr Bala Kaoje, a former Minister of Youths and Sports, on Thursday called on Niger Delta Avengers to halt all acts of pipeline vandalism in the region.
Kaoje said this in Abuja at the unveiling of a Unity Task Team set up by an NGO to change the mindset of youths to embrace the unity and progress of Nigeria.
The initiative is being championed by an NGO, “Salute Nigeria Initiative”, headed by its Coordinator-General, Amb. Chielo Ojirika.
Kaoje said that it was time to begin to change the mindset of Nigerian youths in such a way as to portray the good image of the country to the outside world.
He said that changing the mindset of youths to positive issues would promote economic development, project moral behaviour and portray the country positively to the international community.
The former minister, however, called on the Federal Government to provide a pleasant environment and job opportunities for the teeming youths.
“ I think basically if we come together and throw away the negative vices like armed robbery, those breaking pipelines and the likes, Nigeria will begin to progress.
“ The mindset of the youths must be changed toward developing the nation’s economy. It must also be changed to all those negative issues disturbing this nation.
“Most of these vices are coming up because there are no jobs. There are too many people out there who have gone to school and have no work to do.
“So, it is the task that one must take very seriously by providing the atmosphere whereby Nigerians can be employed.
“And if the youths have something doing, then the negative thinking of Nigerians will change.
“Any body, who is a member of an armed robbery gang, will begin to have something to do and together the country can be conducive for everyone to live in.’’
Kaoje further urged Nigerian youths to be proactive and to run away from listening to anyone calling on them to carry out criminal activities.
According to him, these criminal activities are capable of jeopardising the career of youths, while preventing them from being the future leaders of our great country.
“ It is time for you to start contributing meaningfully and positively to the growth and development of our great country,’’ Kaoje said.
The Chairman, Police Service Commission, Mr Mike Okiro, said there was an urgent need to change the mindset of the youths and elders to move the country forward.
Okiro, who was represented by his Media Assistant, Mr Kayode Ibitomi, said the emergence of Boko Haram insurgency and Niger Delta Avengers was due to idleness of youths.
He said that prior to the emergence of insecurity, there was economic development in all parts of the country.
Okiro said it was high time the government began to think of how to engage the youths positively.
Also speaking at the occasion, Amb. Chielo Ojirika called on the avengers to sheath their swords and focus on developing the economy.
“Nigeria’s peace has not been threatened like this before as it is today.
“There is agitation from every part of the country in terms of segregation and as a non-governmental organisation, we cannot continue to keep quiet.
“ What we are trying to do is to see how we can sensitise the Nigerian people, especially the youths on the need for us to come together, stick together and realise the dreams of our founding fathers.
“The founding fathers of Nigeria in the likes of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa, the Awolowos, they all came together despite their different cultural and religious background.
“They were able to achieve peace and unity in Nigeria.
“So, why do we want Nigeria to cease to exist in our time?’’
Ojirika called on political organisations to remain undaunted and be committed to the delivery of dividends of democracy.
He also called for peace and unity in the country adding that “ it is only when we are united that we can develop.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Comrade Usman Danjuma was appointed as a youth ambassador on national development and peace.
Those inaugurated into the Unity Task Team are Mr Mustapha Tasu, Mr Udeme Obot, Mr Ibrahim Mohammed, Mr Norbert Anyanwu and Musa Mohammed, among others.