By Thams Rhooney
I have watched with keen interest the silent revolution in youth engagement taking place in Delta State in the last six months and decided to comment on the young commissioner leading this change initiative powered by Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan.
The commissioner of Youth Affairs, Ebifa Ijomah, is telling the world that the youths can get off the track of violence once someone in authority engages them on issues that bother their hearts.
Dialogue in short, is the philosophy of the governor and his commissioner for youth affairs. I have been a keen observer of the peace and conflict resolution style of this scion of Professor B.I.C. Ijomah, a renowned statesman from the state.
I have heard a lot from youths across Delta State, who confirm by their comments that the commissioner has given them a new lease of life and a sense of belonging.
With Ebifa Ijomah, I hear the youths are sheathing their swords in many feuding communities and are coming out into the open to embrace dialogue.
Though the Governor was distracted to no end by the persistent litigation to unseat him, he is now settling down with the crack team of commissioners, executives, some of them young and vibrant in his new cabinet. After the recent historic Supreme Court affirmation of his election as Delta State Governor, he seems determined in his aggressive drive to tackle youth restiveness and unemployment in Delta State.
When I visited Delta State about the middle of 2011, when two interactive youth summits were staged by the Directorate of Youth Development, I was fascinated that contrary to the widely held view of tardiness and unruly behaviour of the average Delta youth, I met youths in their thousands who were cultured, well-ordered, with the comportment that attends young men with high expectations and who were ready to embrace patience in reaching out for actualisation of their demands, no matter the contentious nature of those demands.
The youth summit staged by Hon Ebifa as part of the 20th Anniversary celebration of the creation of Delta State anchored by Hon Mofe Damijo, the commissioner responsible for culture and tourism, was graced by the governor who interacted with the youths and tutored them on a lot of matters, mostly as a father to his children; some of their questions he also answered to the satisfaction of all.
The youth summit on 17th November 2011 took the cake in the interactive strategies for peace building and youth development. Even though the governor was unavoidably absent, he was ably represented by Professor Hope Eghagha, commissioner in charge of higher and tertiary education.
The Director-General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Abuja, Dr Joseph Golwa was the Guest Speaker and made inference of comportment and patience, which he said prevailed now in Delta State which he claimed were contrary to the impressions he had before arriving Asaba.
He praised the Commissioner for Youth Development, Hon. EbifaIjomah for making such a friendly impression on the teeming youths that made them change their mind-set willingly to sit through hours of motivational talks and exhortation without irritation or agitation.
As a youth development advocacy expert who has followed trends in youth restiveness and agitation, I was willing to concede that Delta State had indeed developed unique and viable initiatives for curbing the menace amongst our youths of today in their state and there was to me, a hope not far flung that, yes indeed our future leaders were being made in Uduaghan’s Delta.
My dream is to keep a watching brief on developments as it relates to the youths in that oil rich state, this year and to further confirm if Ebifa and his boss will keep the tempo and accelerate job creation and employment opportunities to stem this army of active young members of Delta State.
Thams Rhooney wrote in from Asaba, Delta State