A coalition of 52 youth groups and Youth advocates in Akwa Ibom state, Youth Advocacy Cluster (YAC) has described as false statements the defence made by Comrade Aniefiok Iwaudofia, Senior Special Assistant, SSA to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Youth Matters about why the Akwa Ibom Youth Development Fund Bill, AKYDF Bill has not been given assent by the Governor since it was passed into law by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly on March 13, 2019.
Iwaudofia had recently said the bill in it’s current state if given assent will become a curse and not the blessings intended.
In their open letter, Youth Advocacy Cluster (YAC) insisted that the AKYDF bill does in no way by context or any clause attempt to collate, extort or tax business owners and neither are businesses expected to remit any percentage of funds for the bill to function as alleged by the SSA.
They said “We challenge the SSA to point out such a clause, if there is any.
The claims by the SSA as a facilitator of the AKYDF bill is unfounded as he is completely bereft of the fundamentals of the bill as evident in his publication which we doubt such as representing Governor’s views of the bill. And in no way does he represent the Akwa Ibom youths.”
The YAC pointed out that the AKYDF Bill was not hurriedly passed due to electioneering in 2019 stressing that the bill was not a product of hastiness as alleged by the SSA.
They insisted that Iwaudofia’s comment is an insult to the Members of the 6th Assembly.
YAC explained that the legislative process the bill underwent was tedious and thorough with members of the 6th Assembly making constant inputs, reviews and amendments.
The Cluster pointed out that the AKYDF Bill was first read in 2016, and had its 2nd reading in 2017, public hearing in 2018 and passage on 13th March 2019.
They added “It is manifest therefore that the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly had the luxury of time to adeptly deliberate, extensively consult and made necessary amendment before the passage of the Bill.”
“It was out of the sheer doggedness shown by us and the Sponsor that the Bill passed. Even the then speaker of the AKHA Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke commended the effort as the most coordinated intelligent advocacy he had ever seen in the state.”
The YAC said AKYDF Bill underwent detailed and robust legislative processes for more than three years before its passage, thus they wonder if the SSA is not directly alleging the 6th Assembly of the Akwa Ibom State led by Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke of sheer incompetence and inefficiency in their duties to have hurriedly passed a bill for purpose of scoring cheap electioneering advantage.
They noted that it is rather sad because the SSA was given the Bill in 2016 on two occasions.
Their statement added ” The publication by the SSA is a sheer manifestation of his apathy towards the bill and crystallizes his dearth of knowledge of the AKYDF Bill and its intended attendant benefits to the state despite our several engagements with him to rouse his interest for support to the bill.”
“We are however still disposed to offer further clarity on the Bill for subsequent accurate communications with relevant parties including the Governor.”
“May we appraise the SSA, that the AKYDF bill does not negate the intentions of the governor towards youth development; but rather sets out to consolidates all the efforts the good work the Governor has done to try to help the Akwa Ibom youths by leaving a legacy that will ensure that his work continues to yield fruit long after his tenure ends.”
” A similar Bill is currently in operation in Lagos State and known as Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) and has been running since 2016 with 25billion fund invested by the Lagos State Government yielding 133,000 direct jobs and up to 218,000 indirect jobs, 150,000 new tax payers and funding for 28,057 MSMEs as at 2019. In addition, a similar bill was signed into law and in operation by the Kogi State government in 2019, inspired by the AKYDF Bill, so the Akwa Ibom Youth Development Fund Bill should not be swept under the carpet of politicking and sheer noncommittal gestures. “
YAC stated that they disbelieve that the publication by the SSA represents the views of Mr. Udom Emmanuel, hence they appeal to the Governor to assent the AKYDF Bill same having been 20 months now after its passage or that the Akwa Ibom State Governor should revert same to the House of Assembly for reconsideration of with any revisions that is inhibiting his assent.