Niger Government on Sunday re-affirmed its commitment to providing free education and empowering the youths to contribute more positively to national development.
Prof. Muhammed Yahaya, Chief of Staff to the state governor made the remark in an interview with the Europe Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in London.
Yahaya was in London to represent Gov Babangida Aliyu at the graduation of 14 students from the state who studied Nautical Science in Newcastle, UK.
He said that the students were sponsored by the state government, adding that eight other students were also sponsored by the Kaduna State Government for the course.
He said the state had been issuing scholarships to encourage students in their studies.
"So any child that wants to go to school has a chance to benefit from the state educational package either at the basic or secondary level, and this has led to a surge in the number of people now going to school," he said.
The chief of staff said the support was meant to offer equal opportunity to all students in the state irrespective of gender, social or economic background to advance in life.
He explained that the UK studies arose when the Nigeria Maritime Safety Agency (NIMASA) advertised that it had entered into partnership with some international organisations to train seafarers.
Yahaya said this attracted the attention of the Northern Governors Forum, and that Niger and Kaduna states decided to explore the opportunity.
"In spite of the intellectual challenges involved in the course, the two girls did well and should be commended.
"For us in Niger state, the Chief Servant has tried to demonstrate that young people should be given the opportunity to excel.
"Education is the foundation for development; I want to encourage other governments in Nigeria and leaders to do all it takes to create enabling environment for the youths to discover their talent and further develop them.
"There are lots of potentials in our youth all they need is the encouragement.
"These young graduates from this institution will now move to the international market because they have been trained with skills in seafaring which Nigeria has less than 10 per cent of the man power required,'' he added.
A spokesperson for the students, Miss Airat Galadima, expressed gratitude to the government for the sponsorship.
``I want to thank the Niger state governor for his commitment to the education and empowerment of young people and NIMASA for providing this opportunity.
``I also thank especially my parents who believe in the girl-child education, for their prayers and encouragement.''
She appealed to parents not to deny the girl-child the opportunity of going to school, and urged them to take advantage of the free education policy offered by the state government.