YOUTH DEVELOPMENT: FUNDAMENTAL TO SOCIAL SECURITY
It is hard to believe that the same Akwa Ibom where a governor some few years ago confessed to his government being bedeviled by cultism; with insecurity and violent crimes walking on two legs is the harbinger of peace and youth empowerment under another administration
A News magazine in consideration of the dark days at the time and alleged culpability in not stemming the tide described the situation on one of its covers, as Reign of Terror.
Those bedarken days were truly terrific with tears of victims and relatives flooding the streets.
Several families had their tales of woes to tell from the loss of their breadwinners to the rape and kidnapping of daughters and wives.
Some local government areas like Ika, Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun were completely shut out from other parts of the state owing to insurgency.
The youths are the future of any nation. It is against this background that nations put in place training and development programmes for their young men and women. Where there are no such training and development programmes, the youths as the most active part of that nation’s population find alternative means of socialization. This may be detrimental to social security in such a country. It was in this recognition that Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States said; “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education.”
This is to say that the people of which the youth form the majority need to be constantly trained, developed and guided in order to meet the yearnings and expectations of the society.
If the youth are not properly guided, criminality, insecurity and deviant tendencies will multiply. This was why Franklin D. Roosevelt, one time President of the United States opined that “flaming youth has become a flaming question. And youth comes to us wanting to know what we may propose to do about a society that hurts so many of them.” This situation has played out in some parts of the country where people come out to ask what government proposes to them by way of kidnapping, defiance of government orders as well as other criminal acts. To checkmate this kind of scenario in Akwa Ibom State, the Udom Emmanuel administration has put in place various training and development programmes for the young people of the State.
In an effort to avoid a situation where youths seek alternative means of socialization, the Udom Emmanuel administration banned cultism in the State and proscribed some sixty five cult groups in Akwa Ibom State. And considering the fact that there is no vacuum in nature, a monthly youth prayer summit is put in place to accommodate and engage youths in spiritual and mental exercises.
Not oblivious that Satan finds work for an idle person, this administration has instituted several forms of training programmes to get the youth gainfully engaged. These range from giving them skills in the areas of agriculture, entrepreneurial activities and sports. Today, most young men and women engage themselves in various agricultural undertakings. They could be found in poultry and fish farming, livestock, cocoa and coconut farming, rice and corn farming and in several trades.
In the area of entrepreneurial activities, they have ventured into block moulding, carpentry, aluminum windows and doors, welding and electrical installations. To avoid a situation where the youth fail to utilize the skills gained, interest free micro credit facilities have been provided by the Governor to assist them put their skills into practice. Skills and entrepreneurial developments, SMEs, Microfinance as well as Brand Management and Marketing are part of the departments created in the Governor’s office, to harness and manage this interface.
Sports development has become a very lucrative business. To ensure that Akwa Ibom Youths are not left out in this business, Governor Emmanuel has upped the ante in sports in the State. His concern has been to construct sports development centres in the ten Federal Constituencies in the State. Renovation work was carried out in Ikot Ekpene Township Stadium, Uyo Township Stadium, as well as the school sports facilities at the West Itam Secondary School and the big one, the construction of a model stadium, 18,000 capacity Eket Modern Stadium. His administration has lifted the football teams in the State to international recognition. During his tenure, the State through Akwa United lifted for the first time ever, the federation cup twice, and he also made the state to now have two strong teams in the elite division of the country’s football league. The success of the yearly school sports festival is also witnessed in the ability of the state female soccer team, Ibom Angels, to get through to the finals of the national female federation cup, and the successes of the state’s contingents in recent national sports festivals.
In the postulation of Robert Coram an English-born American educationist, “education means the instruction of youth in certain rules of conduct by which they will be able to support themselves when they come to age and know the obligations they are under to that society of which they constitute a part”. It is in this recognition that the Udom Emmanuel administration believes that education should not be left to the caprice or negligence of parents to chance or confined to the children of wealthy citizens. Consequently, the administration has made education free and compulsory to Senior Secondary School level. And pays the senior secondary school examination fees for all indigenes of the state. These are the people that will define the Akwa Ibom of the future. This administration is by this singular action looking up to a better, more secured and more prosperous Akwa Ibom State. His love for the sustained education programmes for youth has seen Mr Emmanuel defy the barriers caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic, to start a radio learning programme for students in Secondary schools, and primary schools pupils.
To secure a prosperous Akwa Ibom State of the future, Governor Udom Emmanuel has set up, at the last count, at least eighteen industrial concerns so far. Apart from these concerns growing the economy of the State, they are also offering employment for qualified young men and women of the State. More than this, those of them who are into agriculture will have ready market for their produce. The multiplier effect of these activities no doubt has a catalytic effect on the security of lives and property in the State.
Perhaps, it is in recognition of the strides made by the Udom Emmanuel administration that our young men and women took to the streets of Uyo to applaud Governor Emmanuel’s proscription of cult groups in the State. They have faith that Governor Emmanuel is ready and willing to take them away from an era of total insecurity and lawlessness. They have risen in support of his proactive actions since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in the State. This is a way of their telling the governor that they have faith in his leadership. Not minding the hardship during this trying period, they are satisfied that they are following a leader who knows the way and is giving quality, effective and efficient leadership. By this, they are exemplifying Elton Trueblood’s definition of faith which according to him “is not belief without proof but trust without reservation”.
With this kind of massive support, cooperation and goodwill, more and sustained training and development programmes will continue to come the way of the Youth of Akwa Ibom State. In addition, the advancement of the cause of the youth will ensure a peaceful prosperous and secure Akwa Ibom State. In a not too distant future, we will say like Rouget De Lisle, a French writer; “come children of our native land, the day of glory has arrived”, and all thanks will be to a leader, Udom Gabriel Emmanuel.