In bid to develop a robust framework for youth development in Akwa Ibom State, The Nigeria Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE), in collaboration with National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Akwa Ibom State, and Youth Development Cluster (YDC), Akwa Ibom State, on Thursday, called on Governor Udom Emmanuel to urgently give assent to the Youth Development Fund Bill that was passed by the 6th Assembly in 2019.
Youth Development Cluster is made up of Youth for Change Initiative (YOFCI), Greater Tomorrow Initiative (GTI), and Youth Alive Foundation (YAF).
The Nigeria SCALE Project is a five-year initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Palladium through cooperative agreement with USAID. This project is to cut across states such as: Akwa Ibom, Abia, Rivers, Lagos, Kano and the Federal Capital Territory.
Addressing journalists at the end of a one -day roundtable stakeholders’ meeting on “ Strengthening Youth Development Policy Frameworks in Akwa Ibom State”, held in Uyo, the Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Theodore William said it had become imperative for Governor Emmanuel to give assent to the Bill to enable Akwa Ibom youths have a framework that is sustainable and inclusive.
“ This stakeholders’ meeting, having deliberated, did resolve that it is imperative that Akwa Ibom State Governor, His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel signs into law, the Akwa Ibom State Youth Development Bill that has been in the Exco Chambers of Akwa Ibom State Government in the last three years”.
According to the Chairman, the meeting which was organized to bring together, stakeholders in the Youth Development Cluster, including those in the Ministry of Youth Development, agencies and departments of government, was aimed at brainstorming on a programme and policy reform for youth development in the state.
He disclosed that the engagement had yielded results by providing a number of issues that would form a roadmap, noting that these issues, when addressed, would lead to the empowerment of the youths in the state.
The issues, he enumerated, include; increasing youth unemployment in Akwa Ibom State as obtainable in other states and the nation at large; lack of untapped economic opportunities for youths in the state, despite the vast potential the state has and some initiatives that have been conducted; increasing youth restiveness, poverty, and high rates of crimes and lack of coordination and collaboration amongst stakeholders working on youth development.
Others he said include; disconnect between the National Youth Policy and the state level Youth Development Initiative which is a consequence of the non-existent of a State Youth Policy; support for the development and adoption of a State Youth Policy for Akwa Ibom State; facilitate the establishment of a Multi- sectorial Youth Development Technical Committee/Working Group to ensure effective planning, execution, and evaluation of Youth Development Initiatives in the state, and facilitate the establishment of a State Youth Development Fund to sufficiently provide for youth development activities at a sustainable scale which can immediately be achieved by the Governor’s assent to the Akwa Ibom Youth Development Fund Bill passed by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in 2019.
Mr. William added at the end of the meeting, the cluster was able to extract commitment from the MDAs of a robust collaboration which would advance the course of the youths in Akwa Ibom State.
“We were able to have a very tangible commitment from the MDAs that going forward, we are going to have a lot of collaboration with Youth Development Cluster, National Youth Council of Nigeria; and we will collaborate with the various Directorates of Youth Development in the MDAs for onward transmission of Youth-based development programme so that we can create a data process for this event”.
The Chairman therefore, appreciated United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for its support and other partners for collaborating with the cluster in ensuring the development of frameworks for Akwa Ibom youths.
Also speaking, Amb. Peace Edem of Youth Development Cluster observed that the meeting was the first ever where stakeholders in the field of Youth development came together to speak on issues of Youth development in the state.
He noted with satisfaction the commitment that MDAs had made in working with them to engender robust collaboration towards putting in place youth-based development framework and expressed optimism that the collaboration would achieve its goal.
The Programme Lead, Greater Tomorrow Initiative (GTI), Mr. Ifiok Umoren, while emphasizing the issues raised in the meeting, believed that the establishment of a separate ministry – Ministry of Youth Development would help set a template for youth development in the state.
He therefore, called on the Civil Society Organizations and the media to join hands in pressing upon Governor Emmanuel to sign the Youth Development Fun Bill into law, as well as the establishment of the ministry, saying a lot would be achieved with these developments.
Other Programme Leads who spoke at the press conference stressed the need for all the stakeholders to collaborate to ensure proper implementation and documentation of government programmes for the youths of Akwa Ibom State.
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