SIXTY youths nominated for a free training at the Port Harcourt Technical and Vocational Centre on Monday embarked on a protest over the continued closure of the facility by the Rivers State Government.
The youths while protesting in front of the training facility located at No. 1, Odoni Street, Port Harcourt, carried a banner with the inscription; ‘Skill acquisition is key’ and ‘Education commissioner, please, allow the free training of youths’.
Speaking to newsmen, Wagor Augustine, who claims to be a staff of the centre, accused the state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku, of shutting the centre, thereby denying the youths the opportunity to acquire skills.
“We, the staff, including the security men, have not been paid this period and nothing is happening. Now, after a meeting, we, the staff, with the commissioner went to source for donors to utilise the centre and we distributed forms to the LGAs to nominate youths.
“They have done the nominations because this programme is free. What we are requesting from the commissioner is to allow us commence the programme, but we don’t know why he has refused.
“People are coming to train the youths for free, but you are restricting the programme. So, we want the governor to caution the commissioner,” Augustine stated, saying the training will engage about 10,000 youths and check social vices.
But the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Sir Chidi Adiele, in a statement, explained that contrary to his claims, Wagor Augustine was not a staff of the facility, saying he and his co-travellers have no right to protest.
The statement reads, “The so-called Austin and his co-travellers have no colour of rights to engage in any form of protest regarding the Port Harcourt Technical and Vocational School.
“They are not staff of the Rivers State Government now and at any time previously, and the government owes them no obligation whatsoever.
“Contrary to what he has falsely and maliciously alleged, no responsible donor or agency, including the World Bank, has approached the Honourable Commissioner for Education, or the Government of Rivers State regarding any offer to give free training to Rivers State Youths at the PHTVC.”