For the past few days Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state has been holding town hall meetings with youths from the three senatorial districts of Delta state. Last week, the governor slammed a curfew on the state which ran from 6pm Thursday October 22 to 6pm Saturday October 24, 2020.
Actually, the curfew was good as it calmed down the tension in the state. Youths were seen destroying properties and breaking through warehouses to collect food items because they are hungry. People have been calling them hoodlums but I refuse to call them hoodlums because they only wanted food which was rightly meant for them.
Those I will call hoodlums are those who destroy government properties along major cities but not youths who entered government warehouses to collect CACOVID food. These youths are not hoodlums. However, as I gave definition of hoodlums on facebook a few days agone, hoodlums are the making of government. No youth will be a hoodlum if he has a job to do.
But when people in power at both state and federal levels steal national and state wealth and do not create opportunity for the youths, they themselves are hoodlums. Hoodlums are made by bad government that is out for self-enrichment and not for the good of all. They block opportunity for the youths and refuse to create jobs away for political patronage for their people. These youths having no other means become hoodlums, terrorising people, even the government officials on the streets.
Now, let’s come back to issue on ground. Okowa has been holding town hall meetings with youths but we have not heard of employment opportunities for Delta youths It is good meetings are held with youths to hear from them. But what is government doing.specially, differently for these youths? Other governors, especially in the Niger Delta have made some decisions for youths.
A few days back, we understand that Cross Rivers state governor, Ben Ayade, gave directives to employ 2000 youths into the state civil service, he also directed all the local governments to employ 1000 each and it was calculated to be 20,000 youths to be employed across the state. He also directed stoppage of tuition fees for indigenes of the state in the state higher institutions.
Rivers state also made similar pronouncements and many other states did same. What has Okowa done in that direction. There are thousands of graduates in Delta state that have no jobs to get them engaged. Since the emergence of the governor in 2015, there has been no civil service employment in the state.
The only employment I can recall was the teachers employment of 1000 for rural schools. 3000 civil servants were suspended when the government of Okowa came on board in 2015 and from then till 2019, there was different degrees of battles. But the government only absorbed less than 500 out of a total of 3000 civil servants suspended by the governor. Others have been abandoned to their fate.
There are a lot of vacancies in the state civil service. Many people are retiring everyday, some are dying, some are changing jobs but the government has refused to employ youths to fill the vacancies. The flimsy excuse that Delta has a higher wage bill than other states does not hold water. Also, the saying that Delta has more civil servants than each of other states is also not tenable.
There are many agencies in the state that in dire need of workers but the opportunity to employ is not given to them. The money coming into the state is for the people of the state. And one way of government being useful to the people is to create jobs for graduates as they come out of the higher institution. But this is not being done I the state. it is a sad development.
When the government came on board in 2015, I could recall vividly the governor said he would create 6000 jobs in one year from the state job creation department. But unfortunately, for the past five years the government has been in power, it has not empowered up to 6000 youths across the state. Even the ones being done by the office are politically carried out. Many will apply but will not get the job. This is not too good. If one does not have any political connection he cannot get the empowerment.
Even at that, a person cannot graduate from the university and begin to work as a tailor, a vulcaniser, a barber, a hair dresser, doe that make sense? What about medical doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers and other professionals, including nurses and pharmacists? Should these groups go into such empowerments? It should not work like that.
Okowa’s government must look beyond this youth hall meetings, curfew imposition and create opportunities for youths in Delta state. Delta is one of the states with the highest allocation in Nigeria. So, saying Delta has no money I stand to say to that. For those saying Delta is broke, you need to reset your brain. Delta is never broke, there is money in Delta and it should be used for the good of the people of Delta state.
So, Okowa must go beyond town hall meeting with youths and look for ways to employ youths and get them gainfully into the state civil service. I know some will say government cannot employ everybody, that is very correct but how many has the government employed before we say it cannot employ everybody. But then, it must create the right environment for youths to create jobs for themselves before that can work.
The government must create the environment for youths to excel. If loans must be given, it should be done away from politics. Not all of us are politicians and all of us can never be. Again, not all politicians are in PDP or APC. The governor is the governor of everybody in Delta, whether PDP, APC or those of us not in politics. But it is unfortunate that only those in PDP are benefiting from the government of Delta. This is wrong. These are the reasons why we have multifarious problems in the state.
We are no more hearing of micro-credit programme in Delta. That office seems to have perished and buried. When Dr. Antonia Ashiedu was in charge of that office in the administration of former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, that office was a beehive of activities. But now, we have not heard anything like pin from that office. What is happening in there? We don’t understand.
I understand Orezi Esievo, a former member of the Delta state house of assembly is in charge. I have not seen what that woman is doing there. Somebody will come out and say go there and see. I don’t need to go there. We need to hear and see, not going there to see for myself. We must wake up in Delta and meet the need of youths. Youths need job. If 15,000 youths are gainfully employed in this state, what time do they have to go for protests? They wont go for it.