The Rivers State Chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, wishes to express its displeasure over the increasing rate of youth unemployment in the State despite the huge investment opportunities that exist of which the PDP led State government has failed to take its advantage to engage thousands of idle youths roaming the streets.
It’s on record for instance that following the amnesty granted the warring militants in 2009, the World Bank started dialogue with four core Niger Delta States namely: Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo on how to address youth restiveness which had led to persistent tension in the region and negatively affected the economy through loss in foreign exchange which should have been used to finance National Development and local investment.
The World Bank also noted that youth restiveness in the region is a deterrent to foreign direct investment (FDI).
It’s therefore in the bid to address this malaise of youth restiveness and refocus the youths in the region that the State Expenditure Effectiveness For Opportunities and Result (SEEFOR) was born.
It is hoped that with the right interventions in skills development and training, this army of unemployed youths could be turned into a large asset for the economy.
In the light of the above, the project objective of (SEEFOR) is to enhance opportunities for youth employment and access to socio-economic services, while improving public expenditure systems in the participating States.
Specifically the project aims at sustaining and building the capacities for our youths in the following areas viz;
1. Engagement of youths by private firms to undertake labour -intensive small public works.
2. Grants for community driven development initiatives/micro projects.
3. Grants to public technical and vocational institutions to provide training and skills development for the youths.
The project will benefit youths who are unemployed and or seeking to be trained in vocational and technical courses. Community groups and associations in the four participating States, including farmers, women groups and youths in the rural areas will also benefit through support to community driven development.
The project has a life span of two electoral terms (8) years and the project design aims at achieving sustainability of the activities supported and outcomes expected especially on the youth employment component which complements the youth employment schemes of the State governments and the recently announced federal government job creation programme through direct labour.
As a follow-up to achieving sustainability and building capacities for youths in Delta State, the commissioner of finance and economic planning, Mr. Kenneth Okpara announced the appointment of Mr. Benson Ojoko as the State coordinator for (SEEFOR) project in Delta State. In same vein, he also announced on the March 6, 2012 that the (SEEFOR) project will create 20,000 jobs for youths in 4 years. He made known that the sum of N150m counterpart funding has been provided, office accommodation secured and key project officers appointed.
In Edo State, the commissioner for finance and economic planning, Dr. Chris Obare has disclosed that the State was fully prepared for the take-off of (SEEFOR) project in the State. The State commissioner explained that the State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has demonstrated great passion for the project through the payment of its share of the Counterpart funding. He disclosed this at a meeting of officials of the Federal Government and the International Development Association (IDA) in Benin to examine the level of preparedness on (SEEFOR) project.
In a similar vein, the State project Co-ordinator in Bayelsa State, Mr. Anyems Adogu has stated unequivocally that youth restiveness and other vices in the State will soon be a forgone alternative by the take-off of (SEEFOR) project in the State.
If these three States are gearing up to commence the implementation of (SEEFOR) project by their public proclamation, why is Rivers State lagging behind in implementation? Why does there seem to be no direction or a clear policy statement about its implementation?
These three States of Delta, Edo and Bayelsa are already at a different level of implementation and have attracted the leader of International Development Association (IDA) Dr. George Larbi to their respective States in a meeting aimed at streamlining bidding documents to minimize bureaucratic bottlenecks.
We are therefore calling on His Excellency, Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the executive governor of Rivers State to prevail on the co-ordinating ministry for SEEFOR project in Rivers State to expedite action and come up with policy statements to enable our youths benefit from the programme like their counterparts in the States mentioned above and complement the initiatives of the World Bank.