By Peter Duru
Benue youths have asked the old generation of leaders to handover the baton of leadership to the younger generation to enable the young vibrant minds effectively tackle the numerous development challenges facing the state and country at large.
In a communique issued at the end of a three day Benue Youths Summits convened by Governor Samuel Ortom to address the issues raised during the recent ENDSARS protests in the state they insisted that the baton change would enable the youths to lead the state into the 4th industrial revolution.
The youths who gathered from the 23 Local Government Areas of the state representing different political parties, professional and socio-cultural organisations acknowledged that the past and current leaders of Benue had been the torchbearers of the state.
According to them, “the journey has been a tough one, with compounding challenges. The world has entered a new era in which this generation of leaders must assume the role of statesmen who paved the way for younger generations to lead Benue into the 4th industrial revolution.
“This is a task that requires bold new ideas in order to conquer the future. In the famous words of Albert Einstein, ‘you cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that created it”.
“In 2020 young people make up at least 65% of Nigeria’s 206 million people (UNFP, 2019). Of this number an estimated 100 million are 26 years old and below. A genenational change is therefore inevitable.
“The time has come to pass-on the baton to the younger generation. The experience and wisdom of the old are invaluable but it is the ideas, imagination, enthusiasm and creativity of our youths that will evolve the solutions and guarantee a successful future for Benue state and Nigeria.
“Your duty is to mentor and blood-in the next generation of credible, committed and visionary young people in every facet of life. The challenges we are facing today are only a prelude to what will happen to us in the coming decades if not addressed.
“In the famous words of Jimmy Carter, ‘we must accommodate the changing times while we cling to principles that never change.”
The youths in the communique also demanded the establishment of a Benue State Youth Development Commission, the immediate formulation and implementation of a State Youth Development Policy, formulation of robust agricultural policy and provision of various agricultural incentives for the youths of the state.
“The government should adopt the Disability Bill in Benue State to enhance inclusion of persons with special needs into governance, appointments, Create platforms and avenues for the youth with special needs to be more actively engaged and provide a scholarship scheme for people with special needs.”
While demanding for the establishment of skills acquisition centers in the 23 LGAs of the state, they added that “government should prioritize education by allocating to the ministry the UNESCO recommended 27% budgetary allocation.”
While declaring the summit closed, Governor Samuel Ortom assured that the resolutions reached by the youths would be deliberated upon for possible implemented by his administration.