Governor Simon Bako Lalong has advocated for vibrant youths and stakeholders on the Plateau, whose desire was to see to the proper formulation and implementation of policies and programmes of Action for the Youth was his delight.
Addressing the Plateau state Youth Council at Azi Nyako Dadi Kowa in Jos North Local Government Council, Lalong said, this nostalgic feeling was what nurtured my conviction and drove my passion to see to the speedy resolution of the issues in contest, that led to the litigation that subsisted for a decade.
The dished out 10 million naira including a Hilux Bus with 6million for the conduct of fresh election into the new executive after 10 years of absence of leadership.
According to him,” today’s event is historic in the sense that it marks the formal assemblage of the Youth of Plateau State under a common platform, for the first time in more than a decade ,this Assembly speaks volume on the power of unity in the pursuit of a common goal”.
“I recall with nostalgia the days of our youth activism and how we looked forward every week to the Thursday meeting of the Larger House”, he added.
Lalong lamented that ,It is no doubt regrettable that politics, egocentric and ethnocentric self-serving interest, played a critical role in destroying the very fabric of our unity as Youth.
“I dare to say we lost the zest and avidity that characterized our youthful spirit and we became pawns on the alter ego of politics, thereby allowing ourselves to be manipulated by those who saw the decimation of our potentials as a united force, a political strategy for their uncensored leadership of our State” he explained.
We all have seen where the Ibsen CE of our voice and united action has brought us to and I am sure our resolve and commitment to the reconciliatory process that midwifes our arrival at the current destination, is a testimony of our renewed commitment to restore back the glory of the Plateau Youth Council (PYC).
He commended the Leadership of the Larger House under Chief Michael Makwal, for the efforts that kept what was left of the Youth Council until its full resuscitation now. I must humbly say our Government prides itself as having lived its promise of reviving the PYC, with the quick peaceful resolution of contending issues and the conduct of Elections across all levels, leading us now to the inauguration of the newly constituted Executive Council.
Governor Lalong congratulated all the elected officials of the PYC from the Districts to the Local Government and State Councils for their individual and collective efforts in ensuring a seamless and storm less election, that accommodate all under the principle of zoning and rotation, has shown that this time-tested principle of give and take which has nurtured our political experience as a State is worthy of preservation.
He pointed out that his Government is a product of this donation and it remains a potent means through which representational and developmental injustices would be addressed in our public space.
Speaking further he said, the Rescue Administration is very conversant with the Universal declaration on Youth Policies and the Programme of Action for the Youth as adopted on the 12th of December, 2016. The Commission for Social Development of the United Nations has outlined different initiatives based on inputs from Member States for mainstreaming youth participation into policy and legislative formulation. These practices will guarantee robust and consistent cross sectoral efforts that will make for the right focus on gender equality and empowerment for the girl child and young women, marginalized groups and make for inclusive participation on all programme of Action for the Youth. Your desire to have a Youth Summit to review past Youth policies and have a Youth Development Plan is therefore welcomed; we will support this initiative and collaborate with the Council to ensure it sees the light of the day, as soon as you inform government of the modalities outlined for this.
In the meantime our several interventions and the various programmes of Actions and Structure as put in place have shown that we are well on course. Upon assumption of office we established the Micro Finance and Small, Medium Enterprises Agency (PLASMEDAN), which is saddled with the responsibility for promotion of financial literacy, entrepreneurship, vocational and skills acquisition, youth and women empowerment programmes. Already through this Agency we have provided training to over three thousand (3,000) youth and women in the State, out of this forty-eight (48) people are living with disability.
I have also flagged off phase two (2) of the programme for which 200 participants are to be drawn from each Local Government Area across the seventeen (17) Local Government Areas; a total of three thousand four hundred (3,400) participants will be receiving training in different entrepreneurship areas, and would be supported at the end of the skills acquisition with start-ups. The PYC will need to in her areas of NEEDS Assessment, liaise with the various Local Government Social Welfare Departments for the various youth to be captured.
Worthy of mention is the fact that in order to guarantee access to a revolving low interest facility for business start-up funds, we have almost completed documentation with the Bank of Industry to access two billion naira (N2bn) fund. As we access this fund for which we have also captured our counterpart contribution in the budget, it will also open access to funds for the development of our creative and entertainment industry on the Plateau, which in itself is an employment provider.
Our three (3) E- Dimensional Approach of Empowerment, Employment and Engagement of Talents, will see us exploring and expanding on the viability of the Agricultural Value Chains, to provide employment and economic empowerment to our teeming youth while also guaranteeing food security. The opportunities in integrated animal farming, the agricultural process and packaging industries, crop and vegetable production should be areas of interest for our youth.
As a State we have already keyed into the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Fadama III Programme, and Fish Farming with the resuscitation of the Panyam Fish Farm and the Dry Season Farming Programme. The Tractorisation Policy of Government will see us subsidizing up to 40% for the purchases of tractors for massive land cultivation, and with the Bokkos Fertilizer Blending Plant now in production, ease to fertilizer as an essential farm input is guaranteed. This I believe is not an opportunity the Youth will allow to be spirited away on the ground of a wait for white collar jobs.
In the areas of Education, we are doing our best to ensure that the school’s first remaining open. We remain committed to maintaining industrial harmony and this can be seen in the way we negotiated and resolved the industrial unrest that almost crippled the sector from the primary to tertiary institutions.
We have also not relented in the payment of bursaries and scholarship; the goodwill we have shown in paying inherited arrears for the Law School Graduates and Students on International Studies, will be sustained until we clear all pending scholarships for students. You will agree that our current financial challenges have been a major source of concern, hence our broad based approach now to mop up all revenue from all taxable sources, to enable us meet up the demands of governance.
You will also recall that in order to sustain excellence in learning, I made a declaration at the first convocation of the Plateau State University (PLASU), that all First Class Graduates of the State in any University, will be granted employment and training up to Doctoral Level. This is our effort in ensuring excellence in learning while also raising indigenous Academics for our various Tertiary Institutions.
This directive has already been given effect and would be sustained all through the life span of our Administration. We are also not resting on our oars in funding the various institutions for facility improvement and Man-power recruitment, so as to secure Accreditation for the various programmes being run in all the Tertiary Institutions in the State.
I have taken the opportunity of this Inauguration to not only unveil our programme of action for the Youth Constituency, but to appropriately charge you on the right conduct and line of action expected of you, if we are to break the circle of despair occasioned by present economic realities. This period calls for critical thinking, strategic action and commitment to all economic empowerment programmes that will guarantee self-reliance. While Government provides the Platform and facilitates the process, the entire Youth must show an indomitable will to the realization of the empowerment programmes.
As I conclude on this Speech in the expectation that this session is only a first in the series of many other interfaces, the Plateau Youth Council (PYC) will be having with Government after the convocation of the Youth Summit, I wish to put forward the following concluding charge for a better PYC.
The PYC as a corporate body must remain non-partisan and non-religious. You should remain a pressure and advocacy group serving as a resource centre, for the identification of youth empowerment outlets and avenues for self-sustenance and actualization. You should strive to engage structures of Government progressively, consolidating on gains rather than engaging in confrontation.
Being a rich reservoir of voters, you must not allow yourselves to be used as canon fodders for conflicts or political brigandage but avail yourselves to the process of a search for credible leadership and peace building in our State and Country.
Finally, be guided in all your life’s pursuit with the fact that there is no short cut to success; the road to success is passed to a desired destination only through hard work, determination and the wise application of knowledge. Experience, Education and Exposure must combine to bring you to a desired end. In this wise I conclude with the words of the late Mahatma Gandhi on the seven social sins that will destroy the world. The antidote of each of the ‘deadly sins’ is an explicit external standard that is based on natural principles and laws. These are a living life of;
“Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce with morality, Science without humanity, Religion without sacrifice and Politics without principle”,Lalong stressed.