A member of Youth Advocacy Cluster (YAC), Youth for Change Initiative YOFCI, has described as misleading and unconstructive the defence given by the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Youth Matters, Comrade Aniefiok lwaudofia over why Governor Udom Emmanuel has withheld assent to the Akwa Ibom Youth Development Fund Bill.
The SSA had recently noted that the bill has few deficiencies which if passed into law may transform from intended blessings to curse.
In reaction, Youth for Change Initiative YOFCI through a statement signed by her Executive Director, Peace Edem and made available to this reporter said contrary to the SSA’s claim, the bill if given assent remains a blessing to the youth and the State.
They said as an organization working around youth development, they wondered “why an acclaimed facilitator (Representative of the youth in the government) of the bill” could push for a bill that has deficiencies and stay silent for 620 days.
YOFCI noted that Iwaudofia’s claim that the Governor wants the bill to be fine-tuned since it was hurriedly done is questionable.
They said ” we the youth that pushed for this bill have never been contacted either by the Governor nor the SSA on this. But the biggest embarrassment of it all is the slap on our legislators (our representatives) who sponsored and passed the bill which the SSA affirmed to as one of the facilitator, only to hear now that it was hurriedly passed into law in 2019 because it was an election year and that they didn’t have adequate time.”
“While we are not surprised as an organisation because the SSA’s statement shows that he is not aware that passing a bill into law takes a process which was not an exception with the AKYDF Bill, the process of this bill actual started in 2015 but finally passed into law by our legislators in 2019 after passing through first, second, third readings before the public hearing. We as an organization reject such medium of communication.”
On the SSA’s claim that the bill is not fine-tuned in a way that a company that operates in Akwa lbom should remit a certain percentage of what they make hence give a room for such a company to fold up, the group explained that the AKYDF bill never mentioned any of the above, rather it is seeking for a start-up seed fund from the Government to establish it.
They added ” We also see the above statement to be misleading the public about the bill and coming from the SSA on youth matters makes it more worrisome.”
YOFCI stated that the SSA’s claim that the Governor has interest in the bill but he wants it to be fine-tuned before giving assent is very funny.
They queried that if according to the SSA, the Governor has the youth interest but never communicated same to them regarding the Bill in the last 20 months, situations like that create what they described as a huge mistrust and lack of confidence in the government.
YOFCI added ” The Governor’s Aide pointed out that the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel has the youth at heart, hence the provision of programs that engender youth development. He mentioned some of the programs carried out by the governor for youth of the State to include: Small and Medium Enterprise Development,
Skill Acquisition, Youth in Agriculture and Ibom 3000.”
“Exactly our concern! we can see that the governor is trying to create jobs for young people, but they are not systematically monitored, evaluated, measured, holistic and sustainable so we requested for a legal framework through this bill to secure the future of our youths today and in the years to come.”
YOFCI recommended that the Governor/SSA grant immediate audience to youths under the umbrella body of Youth Advocacy Cluster (comprising of over 52 youth focused organizations) that pushed for the bill to address any concerns, where there are, regarding the assent of the AKYDF Bill.
They called on the Governor and his SSA to use proper channels of communication to communicate with young people in this regard.
They insisted that the Governor should consider giving assent to the bill for the development/empowerment of young people in the state.