By Dayo Adesulu
The impact of any government on its citizenry is often determined by what it does for the youth, as they occupy the larger population of the society. Therefore, the perception of the youth about their leaders is a proof of whether a government has positively impacted their lives or not.
Also, because the youth are the core voters who determine the fate of any political aspirant, a good leader would do everything possible to alleviate their sufferings.
This scarce leadership quality among many politicians is incidentally found in Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State. In Akwa Ibom, the projected population in 2016 was 5,482,200. However, going by the 2006 population census of 3,902051, those in the state between ages 0-39 are 3,124,969.
Because the people of Akwa Ibom keep speaking of impactful programmes of Emmanuel, Sunday Vanguard was moved to research into some of his core projects, especially as they affect the youth.
On education, the administration introduced free and compulsory basic education in public schools. This initiative enables the poor to send their children to school.
After identifying seven community secondary schools in the state that were not viable, the governor converted them to model colleges.
He then embarked on training and retraining of teachers in those schools to ensure qualitative education.
During a three-day workshop on leadership and behavioural ethics held in the three senatorial districts of Akwa Ibom, prefects from public schools and a refresher course for the schools’ counsellors were taught basic leadership skills, organizational skills, good academic values, task coordination, punctuality and good moral values.
Some of the students, who spoke with Sunday Vanguard, commended the governor for his being education friendly, noting that his improvement of the quality of education in both content and discipline has not only secured for the state an advantaged listing in Nigeria’s educational endeavour, it has also earned students an enviable future.
He also renovated 208 school blocks in the 31 local governments of the state.
Emmanuel went further to distribute free text books and other educational materials to students.
Every year, over the last three years, the administration has been paying over N600 million to WAEC as fees for natives in public secondary schools sitting for the SSCE. The governor also gives subvention to public primary and secondary schools in the state.
This was just as he also initiated strategic interventions in tertiary institutions by constructing roads on campuses and purchasing equipment.
While many states of the federation are indebted to workers, Emmanuel, on assumption of office in 2015, paid gratuity and the backlog of ten years pension that previous governors in Akwa Ibom owed workers. However, paying such backlogs of gratuity and pension has not deterred him from also paying workers’ salaries and allowances promptly.
If there is an area the youth in Akwa Ibom would not forget the administration in a hurry, it’s in youth empowerment and capacity-building. Within three years of his administration, he had trained over 20,000 youths in various skills.
While he engages the youth by constructing ten modern sports centres, he also made available two billion Naira interest free loan for small scale entrepreneurs and traders.
On sports, Akwa Ibom State Youth Sports Festival was initiated by the Emmanuel administration to meaningfully engage the youth. The project has gradually turned the state into the football capital of Nigeria after hosting the Super Eagles during the Russian 2018 qualifying stage.
In agriculture, the administration has trained 450 youths on cocoa maintenance.
In furtherance of his youth-oriented programmes, Emmanuel has signed into law the Cultism and other Violent Behaviour Prohibition Order 2018.
According to him, the law was to re-energise the Criminal Code Law, Cap 38 Laws of Akwa Ibom State.
Little surprise the governor recently received the backing of the Akwa Ibom Christian Assembly for second term in office.
At the ‘Dominion Mandate Conference’ organised by Akwa Ibom Christian Assembly in collaboration with the Fathers of Faith at Ibom Hall Grounds, Uyo, the President, Akwa Ibom Christian Assembly, Arch. Bishop Cletus Bassey, said: “The emergence of Governor Udom Emmanuel into the political arena had changed the trend as he had held political position with the fear of God, leading to the peace and progress enjoyed in Akwa Ibom”. While describing the governor as a worthy ambassador of the church, he commended him for exhibiting strong Christian values in the administration of the state.