DEVELOPED societies do not happen by accident. They are products of conscious, deliberate and focused planning. Included in this planning are programmes for youths. When we say the youths are the leaders of tomorrow, it has great implications. When you lay good foundation for the youths, the future is assured but when they are neglected, society pays for it. Part of the reasons Nigeria is in the current mess is the neglect of our youths.
Apart from the family, schools, trade institutions and others, one positive way youth potentials are developed and harnessed is through Voluntary Youth Organizations. You cannot record the history of Nigeria youths without the mention of the Boys Brigade, Boys Scout, Girls Guide, Man O’ War, St John’s Ambulance Brigade, Para Military Guard in Delta state and many others like the Baptist and Catholic youths. The fact that they are voluntary in service makes their role sacrificial. They do it without any profit or benefit motive than to make society better for everyone. The discipline associated with these bodies makes it easy for positive character formations.
They organise retreats and camping where they hold talks/seminars, drills and various interactive exercises, vital skills relevant to positive behaviour in society are taught in this forum and they are always in the sensitisation programmes of government. Any government that neglects these bodies is not a government that plans for the future as the saying goes; “neglect the youths, neglect the future”. All of these voluntary youth bodies are what constitute the Youth Council. We have the Nigeria Youth Council at the federal level, while each state has its own independent body, hence the Delta Youth Council. Because it is a humanitarian and philanthropic body, it is devoid of politics. They run their own constitution which clearly spell out how their leaders are to emerge and these are carried out under the impartial supervision of the Ministry of Youth affairs and copies of the constitution are with the ministry. They are independent in the conduct of their affairs but the ministry is always there as an observer. The government also offer subventions to these voluntary bodies to support their good works annually but I do not know the last time such subvention was paid by the Delta State government but I know they have been lagging behind.
At the federal level, the Youth Council has been embroiled in crises of leadership because politicians have infiltrated their ranks. Since the infiltration of politicians, there has not been free and fair elections, so what obtains now are different factions of leadership. The minister for youth affairs has been openly castigated at several forums for the way he has handled youth matters. Delta state should not degenerate to that level, that is why we are warning the politicians, especially the Speaker of the state Assembly Hon. Monday Igbuya and others like him to stay clear of Delta Youth Council activities. If you allow indiscipline and injustice to reign in youth affairs, you give room for many negative consequences; militancy, insurgency and other youth inclined crimes.
Our politicians in Delta state must be careful in the manner they approach the youth council affairs. They have been running independently for several decades without interference and have been so relevant in the affairs of the state. We have past leaders who have graduated from the council to become public office holders and they emerged as council leaders without any undue pressure from any quarter. Even, under military regimes, they were allowed to run their affairs independently.
It is now time for the Delta state youth council to conduct free and fair elections in all local government of the state and not the charade we are now witnessing where imposition has become the order of the day. When you impose candidates, you leave room for anarchy. What we have witnessed so far is very disturbing. People who passed through due process and were elected as representatives of their local governments are being supplanted by imposed candidates. If this is allowed to stand, it will mark the end of a democratic youth council and that will not augur well for the society at large. That is why I want to appeal to the governor, His Excellency, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and his commissioner for youth affairs, Hon. Peter Forteta to ensure that the elections at the youth council hold according to the laid down regulations. This will be for the overall good of the state, as a seed of injustice, planted innocuously can result in magnitudinal consequences that will be very difficult for government to handle. The government owes the people justice, equity and fairness.
What happened in Okpe, Isoko and other places must not be allowed to stand. Politicians simply impose their own candidates everywhere without regard to due process. If this is allowed to stand it will not augur well for the youth council in Delta state.
We have had youth council members in the past who have served and still serving in government and we did not experience such blatant interference during their tenure as youth council members. We have Hon. Mike Okeme, senior special adviser to government on labour matters; Hon. Frank Enekorogha, former Speaker Delta state House of Assembly; Hon. Bassy Ghangana, former deputy speaker; Chief Kali Ofomukoro. All of the above listed followed the rules and peace reigned during their time.
The Speaker Monday Igbuya and his politician colleagues must leave the body alone to conduct their affairs as they deem fit. Delta State Youth Council is not a political body and all well meaning individuals in Delta state must ensure that it remains so.
Sunny Ikhioya www. southsouthecho.com Twitter: @SunnyIkhioya