Many a young people have lost their dreams, while fantasising about their dreams and failing to lift a finger in making it come true. Not so with Vincent Omeje. He had the idea, he fantasised about it and put it to work. All that is left is putting it to the test, a few hurdles, not with standing. He told BLESSING UKEMENA and ONUKOGU KANAYO JUBAL why this ‘dream’ is an undying one.
A visit to any of the numerous stations of the Nigeria Police or any of the divisional headquarters as well as State Commands would reveal that the youths make up the largest number of persons detained for one offence or the other. The same applies to the various prisons inmates.
Apart from these, the recent bomb blasts and other vices such as kidnapping, armed robbery, social unrests which have bedeviled some states in the northern part of the country show the hand of the youths but the mind and sponsorship of older and influential Nigerians.
Just as is obtainable in other civilised climes, the youths play a major role in the socio-economic development of their individual nations. The wealth of such nations do not only lie in the amount of mineral and other natural resources available to them but also on their manpower resources which is the strength of the youths who are better known as the leaders of tomorrow.
Youths being a vital resource to their nations’s progress, must therefore be invested upon through adequate training and mentoring to redirect their energy and focus.
Although successive governments have initiated programmes and projects aimed at developing the youths, much still need to be done by governments, Non-governmental oganisations in the areas of training and empowerment in order to break the chain of vices in them.
It is in the light of this that Golden Hearts Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), is collaborating with the National Youth Congress of Nigeria (NYCN), to organise a summit for over 100,000 youths from all states of the federation.
The vice president of the organisation, Mr. Walter Okoye told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that the last census conducted in the country showed an overwhelming number of young people in whose hands the future of this country rested. He said that with the youth constituting the majority of Nigeria’s population there was no over-emphasising the need to properly educate and empower them to turn the fortunes of the country around for the better.
Okoye contends that while the newly evolved transformational agenda of President Jonathan is commendable for its youth education, empowerment and job creation focus, his organisation, the NYCN, is keen to see the young people provided with the enabling environment and platforms that will fast-track their integration in the nation’s development process.
According to him, “the proposed summit is meant to actually train youths for self transformation and to give them a new set of ideology that will re-direct their mind-set from being used as agents of violence to agents of change. The August 16 bombing of the UN House in Abuja was the handwork of a 27-year-old whose life was cut off at the prime of his youth”.
He noted that though President Jonathan is just a hundred days in office, the success of the several plans mapped out to ensure that youths are empowered should be the responsibility of every Nigerian.
“It is too early to tell if the government is doing much or little in relation to youth empowerment, the master plan is on ground and the budget has been forwarded to the National Assembly for approval. For now, I think the government is trying in the area of youth development and I believe if they can carry on with the current enthusiasm, we, as a country should be able to achieve much”.
Okoye said one of the things that government has been able to achieve so far is its increase in the monthly service allowance to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members in the face of governments negotiations with the organised labour over the issue of increase in minimum wage of workers. In addition to that, he said that the 4bn loan scheme that government has approved for corps members is a way of encouraging them and diverting their focus from white colar jobs to self-employment.
In his opinion, such gesture by the government will also help to check the involvement of unemployed and frustrated graduates in criminal activities.
“There is a direct relationship between the transformation of every society and the training of its young people. It has happened in Singapore, South Africa, China, United Kingdom, and Nigeria cannot be an exemption”, Okoye remarked.
The forthcoming 100,000-youth-summit will serve as the grand finale of the four previous summits by the NGO in the various regions of the country. The event would also feature a combination of a rally night at which notable speakers will address the youths on several areas and entrepreneural trainings to change them from being employment seekers to employment givers. The number of participants for the Abuja summit and those of the earlier ones at the that of the regional level is expected to make up the organisation’s initial target of 100,000 youths, while working toward raising the target above one muillion youths in future.
Okoye also added that his organisation intends to reach all youths within the country through social networking, electronic networking and the media. According to him, “we train people who can get the message across to their localities. We as an organisation want to raise leaders who will transform the society, we try to incite people to actually get themselves”.
He said that every nation that has people has the opportunity of change, ‘‘if Nigeria can train her young ones, there is the possibility of a better and well developed society where people can always focus on nothing else but moving forward’’.
The President of the National Youth Congress, Mr. Olawale Ajani in a phone interview, told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that the up coming summit is aimed at addressing the issue of unemployment which has become the bane of our society.
According to him, “there is no how government can create jobs without involving the youth who are the direct beneficiaries, and they cannot say they want to create millions of employment opportunities without informing the youth on how they intend to go about it. This is one of the issues we shall be discussing with government at the summit’’.
He added that government has made promises in the past to empower youths but there is nothing to show for it.