Examining Oborevwori’s Youth O’clock Agenda

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By Felix Ofou

“Young people have the power to change the world; they just need the opportunity to do so” – Malala Yousafzai

Twenty six year-old Malala Yousafat is on record to be the youngest person to have been bestowed with the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17 for her role in seeking education for the girl child. A United Nations (UN) ambassador, she is known to have traveled all over the globe bringing message of hope to the downtrodden and the underprivileged.

A strong advocate against all forms of discrimination, Malala has demonstrated that attaining greatness and doing great things is not the exclusive privilege of the aged and the elderly.

Rt.Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, Governor of Delta State, opted for relatively younger persons in composing the cabinet and executive council. He jettisoned previously established principle of recruiting mainly from the political class and among leaders. Like Malala, Oborevwori opened the gate for the younger generation to have a taste of power. Welcome to Youth O’clock, as it is said in Delta!

No doubt, the Governor must have encountered the “Malala effect” and surmised that young people can actually change the world with their energy, optimism, resilience, creativity, dynamism and self-confidence. He must have understood that the youth are in continuous search for solutions and answers. Their physical strength, can-do-spirit, passion, innovation make them irreducible assets anywhere, including the corridors of power.

Deltans, especially the youths are genuinely excited to have elected a governor who understands inclusivity and the issues around young people. Unlike in the past when they were recruited mainly as thugs to harass and intimidate opponents of the powers that be or snatch ballot boxes during elections, the youths of Delta have been given a pride of place for them to play significant roles on the affairs of state.

So, under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, the citizens now enjoy the power of young minds in shaping the state under the Youth O’clock Agenda, a policy that is bold, unprecedented, visionary and courageous policy of government that will definitely stand the test of time. Clearly, this amiable governor is on the side of the people and history will be very kind to him.

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For so long, inclusivity with regard to young people took a back seat and created a huge vacuum, both in government circles and in government business. Today, we are all witnesses to the consequences of excluding the most energetic and innovative segment of our society.

However, it is gratifying to note that in no time, Delta State is already reaping the benefits of youth participation in government. Everybody now knows that when young people participate in decision making, it leads to a multiplier effect that would at the end of the day, serve the interest of the society for good. When we engage young people in government, there are chances of increased productivity, confidence and self-belief.

After all, this all-important age group has what it takes to innovate, provide insights, take on challenges frontally, and provide results because a lot is at stake. Today, Delta State, with this Youth O’clock Agenda, is helping in empowering young people with important life-skills and also creating and developing awareness around citizenship and human rights issues.

Concerned Deltans who already know the policy direction of the governor based on his abilities and track record, are very excited, proud and optimistic of a greater future with the involvement and active participation of young people. That is why they applaud the governor for painstakingly appointing tested youths and some of the best hands across the major zones of the state. It is very evident that the youth are poised, and ready to deliver their best with their well-merited appointments.

Just imagine, for a moment, the array of stars in the cabinet; from the Deputy Governor, Sir Monday Onyeme, to other principal actors serving Delta State at this critical moment. Most of them are young (30s to 40s), articulate, resourceful and reliable Deltans. And they have all brought to the table, their exposure, education and wealth of experience to the service of their state at a time in the history of Delta State. Not many states in Nigeria today can boast of as many people in this age bracket, holding very important positions and working assiduously to write their names in gold. But, in Delta State, this is the story, and the people are very proud of everything good happening under the dispensation of Governor Oborevwori.

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For instance, the case of Orode Meyiwa Uduaghan, the 34 year-old Commissioner for Girl Child Entrepreneurship and Humanitarian Support Service. Her passion for the girl child and women suffering from debilitating cancers was well known before being assigned this novel portfolio to further prove her mettle.This is reinvigorating and a very vital step taken by the Governor.

Also remarkable in Oborevwori’s cabinet, is Barrister Funyei Manager, Commissioner, 36, Special Projects, assigned to supervise the N37 billion flyover and expansion currently being executed by construction giant, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc as well as 36 year-old Onoriode Agofure, Commissioner for Transport.

Then, there is Jahmani Tommy Ejiro, Commissioner for Environment, who is only 38 years and 40 year-old Dr Joseph Onojaeme, Commissioner for Health, who blazed the trail as a medical doctor and philanthropist before his appointment into the cabinet.

Others include Darlington Nnamdi Ijeh, Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, 49 yeras; Engr. Michael Ifeanyi Anoka, Commissioner for Urban Renewal, 40 years; Hon. Jerry Ehiwari, Commissioner for Power and Energy, 36 years; Vincent Oyibode, Commissioner for Oil and Gas, 48 years; Dr. Daniel Odinigwe Odigie, the 42 year-old Commissioner for Science and Technology; 57 year-old Dr. Ifeanyi Michael Osuoza, Commissioner for Information, Ekeme Owhovoriole, Justice Commissioner, (in his early ’50s), Kanemala Penewou, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs (also in his ’50s) and many others in their early ‘40s and ‘50s, including Sir Monday Onyeme, who only turned 59 this week.

Of course, Dr. Kingsley Emu, Secretary to the Delta State Government (62 years) Prince Johnson Erijo, the 56 year-old Chief of Staff to Governor Oborevwori, Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, Senior Political Adviser (66 years), Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon, Senior Policy Adviser (62 years), Dr. Festus Okubor (63 years) among other sages help make the cabinet a perfect blend.

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Perhaps, it is against this backdrop that one can put in perspective, the recent endorsement of Governor Oborevwori and his administration by over 235 youth groups following alleged attempts by cynics and opposition elements to cause hysteria against the government. Besides, PDP youths across the three senatorial zones have also been emphatic in their support for Oborevwori.

The governor set the tone for what is expected from the commissioners and other appointees in his administration. “A lot is expected from this administration in the light of the massive support we received from the electorate in the general elections. Hence, you must roll up your sleeves and get to work immediately because there is no time to waste. I note with pleasure that this state executive council is an inspiring blend of youth and experience, and meets the requirements of competency, spread, and sectorial representation. The youths represent a breadth of fresh air while the old hands are needed for maturity, wisdom, mentoring and stability of the system”, he stated at the inauguration of the commissioners.

However, the Governor stressed the need for humility and service to God and the people of the state. “I charge you to be humble. Being a commissioner does not make you superior to others. So, you must shun pride and arrogance. This appointment is simply a call to higher responsibility and you must justify the confidence that has been reposed on you with good judgement, tenacity of purpose, compassion and unwavering commitment to the development of the state and welfare of our people”.

As we await the judgment of history on Oborevwori’s courageous resolve on inclusivity, it is hoped that everyone in the team will justify their being considered for such a high office by delivering the dividends of democracy. Time and the immediate signs so far bode well to justify Oborevwori’s deliberate strategy to adopt the Youth O’clock agenda.

– Ofou is Executive Assistant on New Media to Governor Oborevwori

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