Anambra @ 27: Transforming fears to feats, legacies
“Youth are the leaders of tomorrow” is an age-old axiom that has been passed from generation to generation. It is also used as a marching song for students in various schools.
But modern Africa has continued to be run by elderly individuals, especially in politics. Thereby giving little or no chance to youths in the continent.
However in recent times, it seems a breeze of awakening has fallen on the youths of the continent. Sighting Nigeria as an instance, there has always been a call for youth inclusiveness in governance especially in the bid for presidential ticket and the request was granted during this regime of President Mohammadu Buhari after signing the ‘Not Too Young To Run Bill’ into law, recently.
The law brought down the age limit of presidential aspirants from 40 years of age to 30, and that of governorship from 45 to 35 years.
But long before the country found a speech space in the youth issue, it is n record that Anambra State has been seriously making waves when it comes to youth inclusiveness in governance. Before the “Not Too Young To Run Bill” which was only signed into law by President Buhari in the second quarter of this year, the administration of Chief Dr Willie Obiano, right from the outset of his first tenure in 2014 has set a record of encouraging youth participation in governance.
He has consistently appointed youths who are still as at today, the youngest commissioners in the country.
Anambra State Commissioner for Economic Planning, Budget and Development, Mark Okoye, was appointed in 2016 to handle the economy of Anambra State, a rare gesture in Nigerian politics as the youngster was less than 30 years when he was nominated. Most remarkable was that the appointment came at a period when the country was
in serious recession and most states couldn’t even pay half the salaries of their staff. Anambra State, under the leadership of Willie Obiano, trusted the young commissioner to handle the state’s economy and Anambra has been an exceptional state in payment of workers’ salaries till date.
In 2018, after winning his second term election, he maintained that good record by retaining Mark Okoye and appointing Mr Bonaventure Enemali, 33, as a Commissioner in the Ministry of Youth Empowerment And Creative Economy. As at today, there is no commissioner within that age range in the whole federation.
Obiano also made it easy for all youths in the state to get their permanent voter cards (PVC’s) to be able to participate in electing their next leader.
According to the 2006 national population census, Anambra has 1, 3888, 145 youths, which constitutes about 37percent of the total population in the state. Evidences abound that Anambra youths, under the administration of Chief Willie Obiano, are being taken care of and treated specially as the leaders of tomorrow. It was under the governor that a portfolio for youth development and digital entrepreneurship was founded, which is arguably the first kind in the whole federation, showing that Anambra State means business in youth inclusiveness in governance.
Recently, the state, under the administration of Dr Obiano, sponsored the training of 1000 youths in digi- preneur seminar, a seminar which trains youths free of charge on how to be entrepreneurs digitally and marketing anything on various social media networks and websites. Other trainings at the seminar include website designing, among others.
In that memorable event, Ifeanyi Aniagoh, Senior Special Adviser to the governor on youth Development and Digital Entrepreneurship, who is one of the co – sponsors of the event, thanked the governor for his interest in youth development.
He said, “His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano is the first governor to have an office on digital entrepreneurship.” He also stated that the main purpose of the seminar is to engage and empower the youth on how to capitalize on digital space irrespective of location and level in the society.
He added also that there will be lectures, skill training and prizes, adding that there are Digipreneur clubs currently existing in the 21 local governments of the state.
Digital Entrepreneurship, who is one of the co – sponsors of the event, thanked the governor for his interest in youth development. He said, “His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano is the first governor to have an office on digital entrepreneurship.”
He also stated that the main purpose of the seminar is to engage and empower the youth on how to capitalize on digital space irrespective of location and level in the society. He added also that there will be lectures, skill training and prizes, adding that there are Digipreneur clubs currently existing in the 21 local governments of the state.
Furthermore, Anambra State Government, with Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS), instituted a film academy, in the middle of this year and has graduated 27 students. However, the governor promised to build a movie village as well. With that, Anambra becomes the first and only state to have a state owned film academy.
The film academy has continued to be graced with icons like Pete Edochie, Yul Edochie, Bob Manuel Udokwu, Tony Muonogor, amongst others. A short movie that the academy produced was last month nominated as number seven in the the film festival, My Rode and Reel Film Competition.
In her bid to empower youths of her senatorial zone, Senator Stella Oduah, who is representing Anambra North Senatorial District, last week, sponsored 100 students, with youths in the majority, in the film academy.
Also a popular business man and philanthropist, Chief Anthony Enukeme (Tonimas), who is the traditional prime minister (Onowu) of Neni in Anaocha Local Government, while celebrating this year’s new
yam festival, earlier this month, empowered youths who were into agriculture with gifts of cash, buses, generators, wheel barrows, motorcycles, machetes and other farming materials.
Besides these, Anambra has been keen in fighting unemployment in the state. Recently, the state government collated about 8000 data of unemployed youths in the state and trained them in batches at Federal Youth Centre, a federal government youth-facility with over 500 bed-dormitory in Mgbakwu, Awka North Local Government Area.
The facility measures about 60 hectares and youths were trained in various skills of their choices, ranging from fish hatchery, hair making, computer maintenance, catering, wood work, shoemaking, confectionary and decorations, phone repair and solar power. Others are interlocking, landscaping, tiling, wall plastering, hair making and make-up.
These trainings were organized in such a way that participants, after their training, have access to state loans through the Anambra State Business Agency (ASBA) an agency set up by Governor Obiano to support small scale businesses in the state by way of granting loans to applicants.
This and a lot of other empowerment initiatives and trainings, organized for youths in the past four and half years of Governor Obiano’s administration is aimed at inculcating in the youths self-confidence, equip them with contemporary skills, make them self-reliant, take them off the streets and awaken them to the reality that entrepreneurship is a potential career path in the face of dwindling economy and massive youth unemployment in Nigeria.
So, it is not an overstatement to say that Anambra is the centre of opportunities for youthful progress. If every state in Nigeria would adopt Anambra’s style of investing in youths, Nigeria will rapidly attain tremendous development.