PHCCIMA TO COLLABORATE WITH PRESIDENTIAL AMNESTY PROGRAMME TO ORGANIZE CONFERENCE/ENTREPRENEURIAL FAIR FOR TRAINED EX MILITIA

Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce has agreed to partner with the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) under the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta (OSAPND), with the aim to open up new markets for trained former militants who have now embraced amnesty, provide linkages for business expansion and engage them meaningfully to absorb them back into mainstream society. This was made known during the inaugural meeting between the Head of Reintegration of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, ChiefAroloyeteim Brown, the President of Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Emi Membere-Otaji and other PHCCIMA staff with some invited partners at the PHCCIMA Secretariat in Port Harcourt to tinker on ways to organize a conference/trade exhibition. In his remark, Head of Reintegration for the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Chief Aroloyeteim Brown, said the federal government through the Amnesty Programme has been able to restore relative peace in the Niger Delta region, successfully capturing 30,000 former Niger Delta militants, now referred to as delegates, through training, empowerment/business set-up in various trade areas. However, he said these delegates are faced with certain constraints like difficulty in marketing and distribution of products, communication problems, lack of access to funds for expansion, increase in clientele base among others, adding that there is need to showcase these SME’s for sustainability of businesses and the gains of the PAP. According to him, there is the belief that this can be achieved through a conference/trade exhibition to showcase the various innovations undertaken by these delegates to establish market linkages, employment opportunities created from business expansion and enhance a friendlier and enabling business environment for companies and investors in the region with a consequent increase in internally generated revenue for the government. Hence he said the collaboration with PHCCIMA is a key step to achieving this lofty objective because PHCCIMA as a business group has in their kitty valuable companies, agencies and resource institutions as members and partners that can make this objective achievable. The President of Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce while accepting to collaborate with Presidential Amnesty Programme to achieve the conference/trade fair objective, said nothing can be more valuable than a conference to add value, and get requisite tools to further understand they are in the right path, and a trade fair where youths that have been trained and empowered can showcase their skills, products and services to the public to get linkages. He said this has become necessary to contribute our quota to entrenching the needed peace in the Niger Delta, building bridges and ensuring sustainable capacity for our youths to show them the way to fish. According to him, PHCCIMA is committed to this project and that is why she has taken her time to invite some of her key partners to jointly drive this process. Also present at the meeting was the Rivers state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Hon Nancy Nwankwo, who pledged the ministry’s support to the success of the programme. She expressed delight over the initiative, saying her ministry’s objective is to sustain ongoing momentum to move from monolithic economy to a more diversified, hence the programme is apt and will help bridge the gap brought about the absence of a market, finance among others to put these youths in the proper perspective. The meeting also had in attendance PHCCIMA partners like the Bank of Agriculture, Foundation for Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta (PIND), Entrepreneurship and Initiative Centre (E&I), Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture, Grofin, Wider Perspectives Limited, and Heritage Bank. The meeting ended with the constitution of a committee to fashion out modalities for organizing the entrepreneurial fair and conference.