By Toby Prince
The Kogi State Government has, between 2016 and 2020, recruited and trained about 75,000 youths who were provided with tools to expose them to agricultural, technical works, information technology, and other opportunities.
This was disclosed recently by the newly-appointed state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Kingsley Fanwo.
Fanwo, who spoke during a public function in Lokoja, Kogi State capital, also scored the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello high in youth empowerment.
He listed various empowerment programmes rolled out during the first term of the administration to include agricultural renaissance, educational scholarship, and bursary increase, among others.
He hinted that the Youth Development Commission Bill passed by the House of Assembly, and signed into law by the Governor will lead to the institutionalisation of youth development in the state.
According to him, sports development, and job creation through the Kogi Vigilante Service, Forest Guards, KGIRS and appointment of young people into government are other areas the administration has leveraged the youths to bring out the best in them.
He added: “We also hope to do more by training more young people to self-independent. We have trained about 75,000 in the last four years and provided working tools for many of them, not all. Some of them were also exposed to agricultural opportunities. We will be training over 100,000 youth in the next four years.”
The state, in order to improve intelligence gathering and move youths from the streets through engagement, thereby complementing the regular security agencies in the fight against crime, established the Kogi Vigilante Service, which is populated by youths, and so far recruited and trained over 6,000 operatives in the last three years.
The Kogi State Rice Mill at Ejiba in Yagba West Local Council with the capacity to produce over 1,000 bags of 50kg high-quality rice daily is expected to create over 5,000 direct and indirect jobs for mostly the youth populace.
Government projected that over N300million would be injected into the Kogi economy every month through the factory while generating additional N120million through internally generated revenue (IGR) monthly.
The Youth Development Commission law makes provision for youths’ engagement whereby serving as a platform created for them to explore many opportunities that will be available.
On November 14, 2018, the House of Assembly passed the Youth Development Commission bill supported by all 25 members of the House, which was signed into law by Governor Bello five months after on April 24, 2019.
The law focuses on technical work, agriculture and information technology to address high youth unemployment, illiteracy, extreme poverty, lack of social cohesion and sense of purpose, resulting in youth restiveness and violent extremism.
According to ActionAid Nigeria, out of the 1.8million youth population in the State, only a very negligible proportion are meaningfully engaged through sports under the Kogi Ministry of Youths and Sport.
The Youth Development Commission Act was therefore aimed at addressing the drivers of youth restiveness and violent extremism as a result of idleness, unproductivity, and underutilisation of human resources, which bedevilled the young population in the state.
In addition, the Act targets to address youth neglect in the political and democratic processes, unemployment, youth empowerment, gender sensitivity and sustainability of ad-hoc youth interventions and initiatives.
The law is anticipated to open up shrinking political, economic and social spaces for Kogi youths.