In July 2008, Sen. Prof. Oserheimen Os unbor, then as the governor of Edo State, set up a special committee on Youth Development and Empowerment under the chairmanship of the deputy governor, Mr. Lucky Imasuen.
The brief of the committee which had as members, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Youth and Students, President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, among others, was to examine, analyze, modify where necessary, and present for approval, a memo for the establishment of an interest free revolving loan fund for youths with existing business ventures in the state. The initial deposit for the fund was N1b.
The committee set to work in earnest. After about two months of extensive and exhaustive research and consultations, the committee came out with a report approving the memo with a detailed plan of administration and execution. The governor was pleased with the idea. The draft was scheduled for the consideration of the State Executive Council and the anticipated capturing in the 2009 fiscal budget. But the dream was not to see the light of day as Sen. Osunbor was removed from office in November 2008 by the election petition appeal court.
The above story illustrates the serious commitment of Sen. Oserheimen Osunbor to the empowerment of the youth. It is relevant to note that virtually every memo or advice that His Excellency Sen. Oserheimen Osunbor received on matters of youth and students not only got approval but accelerated approval. Interestingly, he ensured that his final instructions were carried out. It is also worthy of note that it is in the light of this special interest that the payment of bursary was approved and implemented in 2008, which was in fulfillment of his electioneering campaign promise.
Just as with the youth empowerment fund, Sen. Osunbor had instructed the Special Adviser on Youth and Students to liaise with the Ministry of Education to fashion out a quality scholarship scheme for Edo students in all tertiary institutions with emphasis on excellence and indigence.
The governor had reasoned then that to engender quality capacity building for the state, there was the need for the government to create a situation whereby the best we have are encouraged to attain their peak in academic and intellectual pursuits. For this reason he was passionate to have a very meaningful scholarship scheme, himself being a scholar of note.
Towards realizing Sen. Osunbor’s boundless interest in youth development and empowerment, in 2008, this writer had the opportunity to meet with foreign technical experts in Spain and China respectively, to discuss the possibility of training our youths to acquire technological skills abroad and locally through partnership. The dream could not come to pass because the administration was truncated.
It is on record that what is today a veritable platform for Edo Students Orientation, Organization and Mobilization, the National Association of Edo State Students (NAES), was encouraged and inaugurated by Sen. Osunbor’s administration. The objective was to give the students the structure for national synchronization in advancing their dealings with government and themselves. By the time the PDP government was removed from power, plans had already reached an advanced stage to financially stabilize the association.
In the twilight of the truncated administration, it is also on record that the government had perfected plans to develop the enormous musical potential of the Edo Youth. Throughout the month of September, it organized through the office of the Special Adviser on Youth and Student affairs, a musical competition for choirs of churches in the three senatorial zones, with a spectacular grand finale in Benin City on September 30th, 2008.
Beyond the programmes as articulated through the office of the special adviser, it is on record that Osunbor’s government achieved so much in the area of youth development and empowerment through the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Besides infrastructural development, Osunbor believed in the development of the sportsman for whom the infrastructure would mean nothing if he is not inspired and empowered.
Space would not be enough to enumerate all of Osunbor’s commitment to the development and the empowerment of the Edo Youth. It suffices to say that he has demonstrated the inimitable capacity, vision, focus, and sincerity of purpose to take them to the Promised Land. This is in marked contrast to his successor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole whose greatest achievement in the area of youth development is the employment of casual labourers, empowerment of thugs and public announcement of unfulfilled grandiose promises.
A case in point is Oshiomhole’s promise of employing 10, 000 youths in six months upon his assumption of office. Three years down the line, he handed disengagement letters to 10, 000 youths that had lived in the hope of his promise of employment but were never employed. For the three years that they waited patiently, he paid some of them N10, 000. Curiously enough, as the governorship election beckons, Oshiomhole has said he is going to employ another set of 10, 000 youths. One begins to wonder the game plan.
On the other hand, Osunbor is set for a comeback to finish the marvelous job he began and was doing. And no doubt in this circumstance that the people yearn for a change, particularly for the youth, Sen. Osunbor is an agent of change they can trust.
Nosa Omorodion was the Special Adviser to Gov Osunbor on Youth and Students Affairs