ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
A coalition of youth groups under the auspices of the Eminent Youths and Students Leaders (EYSL) in Bayelsa State has commended the disposition of Governor Douye Diri towards the development of youths.
The youth organisations at the weekend presented the Most Youth-Friendly Governor Award in the Niger Delta to Senator Diri at his country home in Sampou, Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of the state.
The EYSL said the Bayelsa governor had re-defined youth engagement in less than two years in office with the number of young persons appointed into his government.
The coalition comprises the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Niger Delta University (NDU) Alumni Association, Bayelsa Comrades Family (BCF), National Union of Bayelsa State Students (NUBSS) and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).
Others are the Young Lawyers Forum, Bayelsa Young Lecturers Forum, Mobile Parliament of Niger Delta Students Government, Bayelsa Law School Students, Local Government Areas Federated Youths Presidents Forum, Ogbia Brotherhood Youth Council and the Think Bayelsa First Campaign.
Led by the IYC spokesman, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe, during the visit, the youths said they decided to honour the governor for placing a premium on youth development in the state.
Ekerefe stated that they observed that out of over 2,000 appointees of the governor, about 70 per cent were youths.
Describing the governor as one who placed premium on youth development, Ekerefe thanked him for accepting to receive them regardless of his numerous engagements at the end of the year.
He said despite the initial economic challenges that greeted the Governor’s first year in office occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, Diri still placed the development of the state as top priority by awarding contracts to open up the state.
Ekerefe said: “Every strategic leader of the Ijaw Youth Council and youth organisations represented by their leaders are here to pay you this special yuletide visit for placing premium on youth development in Bayelsa. You are a father and leader that understands the importance of the youths in government.
“We are also very pleased that out of the 2,000 appointments in your cabinet, close to 70 per cent are youths.
“As a governor, who came at a time of serious socio-economic challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed very carefully that you have been able to manage the scarce resources of the state prudently in strategic infrastructure development.”
While thanking the governor for his administration’s various capacity building and manpower development programmes directed at the youths, he however appealed for the creation of a ministry solely for youths separate from the current Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, in order to have a clear direction to address the challenges associated with youth affairs.
Responding, Governor Diri appreciated them for the visit and the award.
He also commended them for not resorting to antagonising the government and other leaders of the state but rather joining in the building process of the state.
He said youths across the world were known for building and if that is missing, then that society is doomed.
He said due to the importance attached to youth-related affairs by his government, the budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development was increased from the initial figure of N500 million to N2 billion in the 2022 budget.
He, however, stated that the request for a separate ministry for youths was not out of place and assured them that it would be looked into in the first quarter of this year.
Diri also charged the youths to channel their energy to positive ventures and towards development of the state rather than engaging in violent or drug-related activities.