The Nigeria Delta State Youth Empowerment Programme for Barbados, which became embroiled in controversy and court action shortly after it was launched earlier this year, is now likely to become a significant foreign exchange earner for this country.
Expressing satisfaction with the programme under which 70 Nigerian students will next month complete studies in tourism and hospitality and entrepreneurship at the Barbados Institute of Management and Productivity (BIMAP), visiting Commissioner for Budgeting and Economic Planning Dr Kingsley Emu announced this afternoon that all 37 Nigerian states could take up the project.
Dr Emu told a news briefing that the new state government of Delta State would not only continue where the previous administration left off, but was looking to institutionalize the training and expertise offered by Barbados.
“It is not all about bringing [other youths] back here. It is also about institutionalizing the relationship in such a way [where] you bring your expertise to our environment and it becomes a joint venture which could be made available for a large population of people who are interested in such business,” the Delta State official said.
“It should not only be Delta State. We have 36 states and the federal capital territory, if you like 37. So if we are able to institutionalize it in Delta State, it could just become a centre of excellence for . . . the whole country,” added Dr Emu who arrived here yesterday from Trinidad where he assessed the oil and gas segment of the programme.
After holding talks with Minister of Education Ronald Jones and his Parliamentary Secretary Senator Harry Husbands, the commissioner said he had received the blessing of the Minister of Education to continue the project and to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.
“We are interested in institutionalizing the relationship because if we have some of these things way back in Nigeria and in Delta State, it would be more valuable for more of our people, especially the hospitality business,” he continued.
“We have a significant coast line like yourself. That means you could have a lot of tourism along that access and 40 per cent of the state is water. So you could develop beaches, parks and beautiful things that you have here. That is more reason why our bilateral relationship must be strengthened and institutionalized to achieve this goal.”
The date for the next programme would depend on how effectively the current crop of students is able to put what they have learnt here into practical entrepreneurial endeavours for the benefit of the state.
Facilitator of the Barbados-Trinidad programmes Donna St Hill said there were other Nigerian states interested in benefiting from Barbados expertise as well as two other oil producing countries which want to diversify away from oil.
When he arrived in Barbados yesterday, the Nigerian official went to Casa Grande Hotel at Oldbury, St Philip where he held discussions with proprietor Mrs Ram Merchandani and spent time with the students as well as with organizers of the BIMAP course. The students are staying at Casa Grande.
“We streamlined a few things, because we wanted to make them adaptable to our environment. That is going pretty well. We have two streams of trainees; 37 of them running entrepreneurship programmes and 33 running tourism programmes. Quite a lot of social skills. [During] the final phase, the students would be exposed to specific hands-on skill sets to make them adaptable to Delta State,” Dr Emu told reporters. (EJ)