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Open Letter in response to the interview with SSA to the Governor on Youth Matters Comrade Iwaudofia on the AKYDF Bill published by TheMail Newspaper

Open Letter in response to the interview with SSA to the Governor on Youth Matters Comrade Iwaudofia on the AKYDF Bill published by TheMail Newspaper

The attention of the Youth Advocacy Cluster (YAC) has been drawn to the recent publication by SSA to the Governor on Youth Matters Comrade Mr. Aniefiok IwaUdofiain the Mail Newspaper dated 25th November 2020, Vol.5NO.245 tagged WHY GOVERNOR EMMANUEL HAS WITHHELD ASSENT TO YOUTH DEVELOPMENT FUND (AKYDF) BILL.

We would like to ascertain that these are the views of the SSA or the feedback of the Governor on the AKYDF Bill, as there are misrepresentations and falsehoods in the article which we would like to correct with this letter.

The Youth Advocacy Cluster is a coalition of 52 youth groups and Youth advocates in Akwa Ibom state and they solely initiated, promotedand championed the AKYDF bill, which was sponsored By Rt. Honourable Emmanuel Ekpenyong and other House members in the 6th assembly. During the advocacy for this Bill we met many times with Mr. Aniefiok IwaUdofia to try and secure a meeting with the Governor to explain the benefits of this Bill which we also shared with him. He has not played any role since the emergence of this bill. Even though we shared the content of this Bill with him, he obviously did not take any time to read it because he does not have knowledge about its content, objective and proposed workability model.

For purposes of educating the general public, and the Governor the objectives of the Akwa Ibom Youth Development Fund (AKYDF) Bill are amongst others:

  • Create job opportunities for the teeming youths of Akwa Ibom State.
  • Create economic development opportunities through a legally established, independent and recognized institution saddled solely with this important responsibility.
  • Attract counterpart funding from federal and international donor agencies.
  • Drastically reduce youth restiveness and anti-social activities such as armed robbery, violence, kidnapping, stealing, and prostitution.

Furthermore, the Bill is fashioned to benefit the youths through structured, transparent, inclusive, accountable and coordinated data and impact driven initiatives such as microcredit and franchise schemes, technical and vocational education training, reorientation and public awareness programmes, transition to work initiatives, enterprise development, youth cooperatives, and data driven market and labor research. We are aware that the current Udom Government is already working on some of these initiatives but have a law that institutionalizes these initiatives in a holistic and coordinated manner will ensure sustainability and consolidate the efforts of government.

These objectives are embedded in a 7 key priority areas through which the AKYDF Bill will draw its implementing focus. The Bill is in the public domain and can be obtained at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly or on the internet at www.yafnet.org.

We would like to debunk some of the false statements that the SSA youths made about the AKYDF Bill that was passed by the House of Assembly on March 13, 2019, we wish to state as follows:

  1. The AKYDF bill does in no way by context or any clauseattempt 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. We challenge the SSA to point out such a clause, if there is any.
  2. 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.
  3. The AKYDF Bill was NOT hurriedly passed due to electioneering in 2019, that the bill was not a product of hastiness as unabashedly alleged by Mr. SSA. This is an insult to the Honourable members of the 6th Assembly.

Thelegislative processthe bill underwent was extremely tedious and thorough with members of the 6th Assembly making constant inputs, reviews and amendments. TheAKYDF Bill was first read in 2016, and had its 2nd reading in 2017, public hearing in 2018 and passage on 13th March 2019. 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.

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  • The AKYDF Bill underwent such detailed and robust legislative processes for more than 3 years before its passage, we wonder therefore 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 electioneeringadvantage. This is sad because the SSA was given this Bill in 2016 on two occasions.
  • 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 similarBill 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.

In conclusion, while we disbelieve that the publication by the SSA represents the views of His Excellency Mr. Udom Emmanuel, we appeal to the Governor to assent the AKYDF Bill same having been 20 months now after its passage or that Your Excellency should revert same to the House of Assembly for reconsideration of with any revisions that is inhibiting his assent.

Signed:

Youth Advocacy Cluster

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