WRITTEN BY UCHE NWORAH
The United Nations defines youth as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years. These ages are the periods of transition from the dependence of childhood to independence of adulthood.
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Youth also often refers to a person between the ages of leaving compulsory education, and finding their first job. The general definition of youth has also been expanded to include persons who may be between the ages of 25 and 30 although people who fall into this age bracket are described as being young at heart.
One of the biggest challenges facing most communities in Anambra state today is how to keep our youths engaged by getting them to stay in school or through creating employment opportunities for them. The thinking is that if our youths are not creatively and constructively engaged, this will lead to youth restiveness and the challenge this poses to the wider society is huge. They may resort to anti-social behaviours by engaging in petty crime, thuggery and so on.
The government of Chief Willie Obiano has since inception used different approaches to empower Anambra youths and keep them usefully engaged. The state government has trained no fewer than 5,000 youths at various centres in the state including the Federal Youth Development Centre at Mgbakwu which the Anambra state government rehabilitated in 2016. It also trained about 500 youths at the Technology Incubation Centre Nnewi. The beneficiaries of these training activities on completion also receive seed capital to set up their business. This is done through the Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA) which was set up by the Willie Obiano administration as a vehicle to empower small and medium enterprises in Anambra state. The beneficiaries of such loans and grants comprise both young and old but the importance of such interventions is that such enterprises are enabled and empowered to create job opportunities for Anambra youths.
The Anambra state government through the Ministry of Youth Entrepreneurship and Sports Development also has various schemes aimed at empowering Anambra youths either in sports, agriculture, education and in other sectors. It recently collaborated with the Ministries of Agriculture, Science and Technology and Culture and Tourism to organise a month-long talent hunt competition in the state. While speaking during the competition, Dr Onyeka Ibezim, the Special Adviser to Gov. Willie Obiano on Youth Mobilisation and Empowerment, said the programme was aimed at empowering youths who had interest and innovative skills in the fields of Agriculture, Science and Technology and that thousands of youths are to benefit from the Anambra State Government’s soft loans in the fields of Agriculture, Science and Technology following the talent hunt. Dr. Ibezim also said that individuals that made the final list at the talent hunt would be granted N500,000 soft loan while N5million will be given to those who form themselves into cooperatives to set up small scale farms and other small enterprises.
These efforts by the Anambra state government are all encouraging and worthy of emulation. Praise should particularly go to the governor, Chief Willie Obiano who has shown that he is a youth friendly governor. The Governor it was who appointed 30 year old Mr. Mark Okoye as the Commissioner for Economic Planning, Budget and Development Partners. There is no clearer sign of showing good faith and confidence in Anambra youths than by entrusting them with responsibilities. The governor also has other young persons working in his government and they are all doing well in their respective assignments. Mark Okoye himself recently made Anambra state proud by winning The Future Awards Africa Young Person of the Year award 2016.
While the Anambra state government continues to do its best to encourage, support and empower Anambra youths, there is need for the private sector to support what the state government is doing. This is because investing in the youth is investing in the future. This formed part of Governor Willie Obiano's message when he hosted the Chairman of the victorious FC Ifeanyi Ubah, Chief Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah and members of the team at the Government lodge, Amawbia after they won the 2016 Federation Cup. The governor used the occasion to donate the sum of N10 Million to the team for making Anambra state proud and charged the club owner to partner with the state government in other areas that will lead to youth empowerment and job creation in Anambra state.
It is therefore encouraging and heartwarming to see that the Chairman of FC Ifeanyi Ubah and owner of Capital Oil, Chief Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah is making good his promise to support the efforts of the Willie Obiano administration in the area of youth empowerment. Through the Ifeanyi Ubah Foundation, Chief Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah is sponsoring the 2016 Anambra Youth Fiesta and Talent Hunt. The event which is scheduled to hold at the Ifeanyi Ubah Games Village, Nnewi on Friday, December 30th 2016 starting from 4PM will feature talent competitions in the areas of singing, dancing, comedy and others. This is a big opportunity for aspiring artistes in Anambra state to showcase their skills to the world as the event will be covered live on the networks of the Anambra Broadcasting Service
(ABS), HIP TV and AIT. The eventual winners are set to be rewarded highly with cash gifts and performance contracts.
In the spirit of adding further excitement to yet another memorable Christmas and New Year celebrations Ndi Anambra are already enjoying as a result of the serene, crime free and peaceful environment enabled by the Willie Obiano administration, the 2016 Anambra Youth Fiesta and Talent Hunt will also feature live performances by the biggest artistes and comedians in Nigeria including Flavour, Phyno, P-Square, Davido, Patoranking, Yaw, AY, Bovi, Gordons and many more. Admission into the concert venue is free.
Other well meaning Ndi Anambra are encouraged to embrace this working public private partnership model of youth empowerment by thinking home, sponsoring and supporting such youth focused programmes in the state as that will go a long way in recreating and energising the local Anambra state economy.
Let us all join hands to support the state government by imbibing the spirt and mantra of 'Aku Luo Uno' which Governor Willie Obiano has been preaching. Kudos to Chief Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah and
the Ifeanyi Ubah Foundation for sponsoring the 2016 Anambra Youths Fiesta and Talent Hunt as Investment in the youth is investment for the future.
Nworah is a public affairs commentator.