STORIES BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME, Port Harcourt
It was a moment forfrank talk in Rivers State when youths gathered under the aegis of Integrated Youths Economic Empowerment Programme, IYEEP, to discuss the challenges of unemployment, cultism and other related vices facing youths in the country. They also condemned the killing of youths, women and children by the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram, in some states in the North.
President of Rivers State chapter of IYEEP, Mr Samuel Uchechukwu, identified unemployment as the greatest pain plaguing youths in the state and the country. While thanking President Goodluck Jonathan for coming up with, IYEEP, an initiative aimed at providing empowerment programmes for youths at the grassroots levels all over the country, Mr Uchechukwu also appealed to all levels of government to see job creation and youth empowerment programmes as twin areas they should give priority attention to, noting that it would reduce incidents of crime and other related vices.
“Unemployment amongst our youth is one of the biggest challenges in our a state,but this is a challenge we are willing and ready to address to unlock the vast potentials of Rivers State youth and Nigeria at large,” he said.
Uchechukwu said his body was going to empower about 600 youths across the state even as he pleaded with Boko Haram members to sheathe their sword and toe the path of peace. Continuing, he said they should accept offers made to them by the Federal Government to end hostility in the North. The youths also hailed efforts by security agencies in the country to bring the activities of Boko Haram under control.
Addressing of any disagreements
“We also use this medium to inform those responsible or encouraging crises in the North that violence has never been an effective means of addressing any disagreement. Therefore, we ask them to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue and accept what Mr President offers them so they can also benefit from the Integrated Youth Economic Empowerment Programme. We in Rivers State disagree with the killing of our fellow youths and children in the North who are the leaders of tomorrow,” he said.
National Coordinator of IYEEP, Mr Obinna Nwoke, said the body was part of the transformation agenda of the Federal Government aimed at developing youths in all corners of the country. He appealed to youths in the state to shun violence and acts capable of threatening the peace.
Most of the youths who spoke to Vanguard Metro enjoined government and the private sector to partner with a view to reducing the high rate of youth unemployment in the country.