By Faith Igbudu
Benue youths have asked for 60% affirmative action in government appointments and programmes in addition to a request that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that concern youths be headed by youths accordingly.
This was conveyed in a paper presentation at the ongoing Benue Youth Summit, which opened Wednesday and organised by the Benue State Government at the Aper Aku stadium in Makurdi tagged: The Future is Here.
Presenting the paper titled: The Role of the Youth in Empowerment and Development, State Manager, Small Medium Enterprise Development Agencies of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Oryiman Alu, said to effectively carry the youths along in nation building, there was need that the state government revisits the appointment quota to accommodate more youths in the space of governance.
It read in part: “To make a case for the youth, we have to take a quick look at the breakdown of the current structure of the Benue state executive arm of government for analysis of youth involvement in governance.
“The number of the commissioners is 15, no youth, special advisers is 29, no youth, heads of agencies and parastatals is 59, no youth and so on. Looking at the above, one would observe that of 23 statutory members of the Benue state executive council, none is a youth.
“The concern here is that when deliberations and decisions on policy and programmes are deliberated upon there is very high tendency that youth issues will not be discussed from a perspective of first-hand experience.
“It to this end that the youths have asked me to request from the governor not 45 but 60% affirmative action for all state appointments in addition to each MDA of government to implement at least one youth programme in the state every year.
“Reactivate the ‘all primary and secondary school games’ introduce job creation schemes, initiate mentorship programmes among others.’
In another presentation by the Executive Director, Elohim Foundation, Victoria Daaor, she said the definition of a youth as advanced by the nation which is 15 to 35 years be revised uniquely to Benue to 30 to 45 years.
“I’m not pushing for myself but I believe that Benue can redefine her definition of youth. We know that here in our state, by the time a person is 35, they are just finding his/her feet, we may need to extend that definition a little bit more to make it more inclusive. We may need to look at 20 to 45 so that more of you sitting there can be involved in governance.
She charged the youths to get actively involved in politics, prepare themselves in character formation as well as create an enabling environment for female youths to embrace politics, adding that political parties should also elect youths demographically as their youth leaders.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Dr George Akume has commended Governor Samuel Ortom for the diplomacy at which he handled the #EndSARS protest in the state, saying it was highly curtailed and peaceful.
Dr Akume who noted that the protests devastated many states whereas, it was properly managed by Governor Ortom in the state lauded the initiative of government in organising a youth summit, adding that is an avenue for dialoguing and charting the way forward.
The minister who was represented by the Executive Director Engineering, Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority, Engr Dr Joseph Utser also commended Benue youths for a peaceful demonstration and admonished them to always support the activities of government for a better state.
“I want to appreciate Benue youths for not being violent but rather displaying the highest form of maturity during the #EndSARS movement I urge you to remain steadfast and continue to support government at all levels.
“May I at this point appreciate the Benue State government led by Governor Samuel Ortom for proper manner in which the EndSARS protest was handled.
“Finally, I want to commend Benue State government for the initiative of a youth summit and urge it’s sustainability for a greater Benue,” he said.
Earlier, in a welcome address, Chairman steering committee for the summit, Pst. Dave Ogbole, welcomed delegates who came from across the 23 local governments of the state as well as guests, saying the summit is an unveiling of the potentials of the youth that were hitherto buried, to enable them embrace the future which he said is now.