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EMPOWERING THE YOUTH

By NBF News
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Recently, Anambra State concluded a detailed capacity building programme encapsulated in the Anambra State Youth Reorientation and Empowerment Programme (ANSYREP). I am also delighted that by that, once again, our state has set new standards in youth development by incorporating character development and the inculcation of values into what would ordinarily have been treated as a vocational training, or skills acquisition, programme.

We have adopted the well thought out Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as our governance template.

The reason is that this template meets international best practices in governance and development planning; and no reasonable person goes around trying to invent what already exists. We took our time to weave all projects, investments and policies around it and crafted the Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS) as the vehicle for delivering on this laudable governance focus. I must also use this opportunity to say that the element of integrated development is of particular interest to us in this state. We insist on integrated development because any indiscriminate spending of public funds on physical infrastructure, without asking how this will benefit the majority of the people and the economy of the state, is nothing but leadership irresponsibility.

This is perhaps an opportuned occasion to reflect on the fact that Anambra State has lived through years of great dreams and shattered hopes. Curiously, our failures are not due to lack of capital or human resources. They are, again and again, traceable to our people's refusal to return to those core values of hard work, self respect and resilience that defines us as a people. This has created a disoriented generation that is danger of being completely ruined by the wrong role models.

Part of our plan in the reorientation of our people is to create a youth development culture that is comprehensive at the conceptual level, globally meaningful to experts and which has results that can be seen and measured. Now that our values and almost everything that defined us as ndi Igbo and Ndi Anambra is in danger of being lost, we need to make conscious and well thought out investments in the development of the personality and character of the leaders of tomorrow.

The 'replacement generation' we intend to bequeath to posterity must be one that understands etiquette and good manners and which knows that the norms of the land demand that people should work and earn their livelihood with dignity. It must be a generation with enough self-discipline to defer temporary pleasures in order to build lasting treasures. That is why this government is resolved to ensure that we have youths who know that the 21st century has decreed the extinction of all human beings who simply collect unearned income, eat it up and sit down to wait for more.

We want a youth generation that can challenge people in public office to live up to the true meaning service, particularly public service. We want a generation that will compel the society to re-educate itself on the real meaning of politics, political mobilization and the role of party ideology in the economic development of nations. That is the background to all that we are trying to do as a government in Anambra State. It is against this background that a re-orientation is necessary.

Our people must learn to stop following the wrong role models and dancing around misunderstood notions about success and happiness. To ignore these is to celebrate the wrong things, promote and glorify the wrong persons and popularize the wrong moral and economic values for the youth. We are now on the verge of evolving an elaborate national programme of leadership confusion, the high point of which is an unvoiced commitment to debauchery and taking liberties with public funds. The current orientation, from which we must move away, thrives in many places today as misleading beacons to an unsuspecting generation.

Anambra State has a GDP that draws most of its contribution from its human capital assets. It must follow the tracks on which nature has already given it a strategic comparative advantage. That is why we try to tailor all policies and investments towards creating the right human capital and the right social values and institutions to focus on global development paradigms that will make us part of the humanity of the future on a sustainable basis.

Please recall that the national Coordinator of National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), Dr. Magnus Kpakol, once observed that our state has the lowest poverty rate in the country and is the number 1 in the fight against poverty. This conclusion was from a close study of the number and, diversity and life span of private enterprises in the state. Our culture of hard work, personal effort, self sustenance and aversion for any form of dependence must be reawakened and fanned into a blazing flame.

The thrust of ANSYREP is to reinforce the basic industrious inclinations of our people and lead to renewed growth of Cottage industries and the industrial base and a private sector driven local economy.

It is perhaps because we need these and more that we are making the holistic framework of the ANSYREP programme part of our sustainable policy framework for strategic economic planning and human capital development. Knowledge and skill are the ingredients of the industry of the future and Anambra must be one of the most outstanding shareholders in that industry. My charge to the youth is that they must henceforth think carefully about the choices before them and rearrange their priorities. Like I said earlier, those who are out of sync with progressive ideas and global best practices will be swept away from the new world that is driven by knowledge, efficiency, strategic planning and efficient resource allocation and use.

Excerpts from Anambra Governor, Peter Obi's address at the launch of final phase of ANSYREP in Awka.