After 8 months since the second reading of the Akwa bom Youth development Fund Bill, which will seeks to help create jobs and economic development opportunity through a legally established, independent and recognised institution, plus attract funding from international donors to the tune of over 1billion naira annually to the state for youth development is yet to be called for public hearing.
This was the reason why Youth Advocacy Cluster (YAC) in Akwa Ibom State; a coalition of more than 50 youth groups and youth focused organizations to advance youth development and governance processes in the Country hosted a press briefing to air their views concerning the current state of the Bill in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
The press release read in part:
“We have been assiduously working with national, state, local governments, non-governmental youth organizations, to increase effectiveness on empowering youths, providing enabling opportunities, and inspiring real positive change. The complexity and magnitude of challenges facing the Akwa Ibom youth in terms of employment, empowerment and capacity building is enormous. There are limited opportunities for youths in the state to earn a sustainable livelihood. Thus, our cluster after conducting a state wide research developed a sustainable framework that provides new, authentic avenues for youth development in a holistic approach. This culminated into a Bill titled Akwa Ibom Youth Development Fund Bill sponsored By Hon. Emmanuel Ekpenyong, the Chief whip of the House with 8 Co-sponsors”.
This AKYDF initiative is also similar to that adopted by the Lagos state government on youth intervention of which the Lagos state government has invested 25 billion under the state employment trust fund for youths, and has attracted 75% of its funding from other international development Partners.
“The AKYDF Bill was proposed in October, 2015 as a major instrument to channel international, state government, public and private participation in solving youth unemployment, thus creating an enabling and sustainable framework for youth empowerment. As part of our strategies to achieve this, we have been engaging in a massive campaign through social media, radio, newspaper and advocacy engagements with legislators which led to the first reading of the bill in November 2016 and the 2nd reading on 27th April 2017. The bill at the 2nd hearing was committed to the committee on youth and security and committee on economic development for a deliberation to report back in 3 weeks after which a public hearing will be called for. It’s been more than eight months now, 245 days yet the committee has not met neither has there been a public hearing. Other Bills that came up much later have had their public hearing.
“Thus, we use this medium to once again call on the Chairman and members of the Akwa ibom State House Committee on Youth and Security saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the Akwa Ibom State Youth Development Fund Bill otherwise known as AKYDF Bill receive optimum attention and a public hearing. This coalition is calling on Hon. Victor Udofia, Chairman, Committee on Youths and Security and Honorable Udo Kirian Chairman Committee on Economic Planning to act on the AKYDF Bill and call for a public hearing. Any further delay will lead to a continued disenfranchisement of the youths of Akwa Ibom State”.
“We sincerely appreciate the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel for his support to the youths so far. We also appreciate the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly AKHA, Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke for his youth friendly disposition support of this Bill. We specially appreciate and say a big thank you to the AKYDF bill sponsor Hon. Emmanuel Ekpenyong and other co-sponsors of the bill for championing the course of this Bill. Our gratitude also goes to United State Agency for International Development (USAID) and Partnership Initiative for Development in the Niger Delta (PIND) for their support towards the achievement of this goal. We recognize our volunteers and supporters as well as members of the media for their continuous support to the realization of this laudable goal”.
The groups in attendance at the media parley are; Youth Alive Foundation (YAF), African Human Development Center (AHDC), Save the Constellation of Children (STCC), Handicap Student Association of Nigeria (HASAN), Care Team Nigeria, The Unemployed Graduate Development Initiative (TUGDI), National Youth Assembly of Nigeria (NYAN), Youth for change Initiative (YOFCI), Akwa Ibom Youth Parliament (AKYP). Others include; Women Initiative for self-Actualization (WISA), Akwa Ibom Youth Chambers (AKYC), Hypestation Nigeria, E-World Multimedia, Peace Knowledge Growth & Love foundation (PEKGLOF), Not Too Young to Run Campaign AKS, First Massive Literati (FML), Young Activist Initiative of Nigeria, Life Bridge Development Initiative, Greater Tomorrow Initiative, Anti-Corruption And Transparency Support Initiative (ACTSI) and Policy Alert.