By Jovitta Iorshase and Faith Igbudu
The Programme Manager, Women Environmental Programme (WEP) Mr Cliff Gai has charged media practitioners of their responsibilities to inform the government, decision makers and communities on issues in a way to enable the society take corrective measures in Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE).
Mr Gai who said this recently at a one-day media training workshop on Peace/PVE, held at Benue Hotels in Makurdi, Benue State charged journalists to imbibe the habit of reporting more on the evolving causes of conflicts than the sensational ones while suggesting the need for community reporting by reporters placed in those communities.
“Do a risk analysis of conflict and decide whether you are capable to handle it or not and the focus on actions or catchy headlines should be shifted to real information on causes, reasons and narratives.
“It is better to report the causes of these conflicts so that the government and stakeholders will work on ways of correcting the present ills for a better future,” he said.
He also noted that most youths engaged in current vices lack the purpose for life and the sooner the government, families and media among others engage them positively, the better it will be for the society.
The programme manager further explained that only a meagre number of graduates schools produce yearly are usefully occupied, leaving a larger group at the risk of negative influence.
Earlier, in a welcome speech, the Executive Director WEP, Mrs Ann Marie lamented that her 15 years of experience in Benue State has shown her that most youths engaged in crime and violence due to joblessness. She also solicited the support of journalists to advocate the welfare of the youths and the women.
Also speaking, Head of Grants, Partnerships and Business Development, Mrs Damaris Uja said, the main objective of WEP which started in 1997 was to promote a sustainable society by correcting the injustices against women and the youth.
Meanwhile, the Monitoring and Evaluation Manager WEP, Mrs Nguavese Ogbonna, maintained that, the project objective was to strengthen community resilience through direct and indirect beneficiaries. She disclosed that WEP has carried out a lot of sensitisation on security personnel, traditional leaders, the youths on ICT and entrepreneurship skills etc and were currently working in six local government areas in Benue namely: Ado, Agatu, Buruku, Guma, Kwande and Logo.
In another development, WEP has advocated for the creation of Youth Development Commission in Benue State.
This was advanced recently by participants at the round table discussion held by WEP in Makurdi who called on government to be proactive in tackling issues concerning youths, in order not to be reactive as such issues have a triple down effect on the society.
According to the participants, the creation of a commission will help develop and reposition the teeming unemployed youth population, making them self reliant and focused in life and such will be a panacea to the violence being perpetuated by youths in the society and rapidly eradicate vices from the land.
They recalled that one of the recommendations made during the Benue Youth Summit which came as a result of the #EndSARS protest, was the creation of such a commission, saying the round table discussion should act as a reminder to the govenment on the request and urged it to act now to avert a reactive approach to issues.
In a goodwill message, State Manager, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Oryiman Alu, said the creation of the commission, will help build synergy between the government and the public.
According to him, “already there is a wrong reward system in place where the good, educated person can not find a job but a tout who is a youth is rewarded constantly. Such leaves the good person wondering what way to go. A commission will bring about a balance.”
Similarly, in separate goodwill messages presented by the Executive Director, Elohim Development Foundation, Dr Victoria Daaor and Rev. Fr Solomon Ukeyima, pledged their unrelenting support to the cause, saying they choose to identify with a sector in the country greatly neglected.
Earlier, in a welcome address, Executive Director WEP, Ann Marie, said she was optimistic that the discussion will yield fruitful result, tasking participants to be assertive, creative and innovative in brainstorming. She said, “these youths need jobs. When they are left idle, any extremist group can recruit them, so adequate attention be given them.”
Presenting the programme, WEP Programme Manager, Cliff Bai, noted that, the aim of the advocacy drive is borne out of the need to rescue the future which is gradually going into extinction.