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Exposing The Youths To Leadership : The Umahi’s Example

One of the most quoted lines is, "The youths are the leaders of tomorrow". Many people have questions about that assertion owing to the bleak future faced by the youths. If the youths are truly the leaders of tomorrow and not rhetoric leaders, leaders in every aspect of life have the duty to make conscious efforts to actualize this.

The future holds dreams and promises for the youths. This can be achieved through dedication, perseverance, hard work, proper education, and words of wisdom. Youths do not grow in isolation but by following paths laid down by their elders: parents, guardians, teachers, leaders, etc.

It is imperative to note that a flower that is not properly tendered while growing, is bound to grow wild. The resultant effect is that rather than beautifying the environment, it will constitute nuisance to people. Thus, when the youths are overlooked and abandoned, they often become the antithesis of what society expects them to be and become an anathema.

The advice of the elders, policies of the government, acts of omission, and commission by the youth go a long way to stimulate in the youth the need to dream big and achieve their dreams.

The transitional age between youth and adulthood is the most challenging especially to the government. The values and morals instilled in them go a long way in determining what most of them will become in the future. They are either motivated to succeed or perish in their ignorance.

According to Benjamin Disraeli, "the youths of a nation are the trustees of posterity".

How do you then entrust the posterity of a nation to a disgruntled or disorganized group of people? This is where wisdom on the part of the leaders comes to play. And Gov. Umahi rose (and he is still rising) to the challenge by:

Before the coming of Engr. Umahi as the Governor of Ebonyi State, the stories of the youths in the state were that of thuggery, extortion, school dropouts, gatekeepers, house-made, people with no academic and leadership future. Wherever robbery or other vices are mentioned, people are quick to allege that such were perpetrated by the teeming Ebonyi youth scattered at every busy corner of the 36 states and Abuja.

Upon his takeover of the reigns of government in Ebonyi, Gov. Umahi constituted his cabinet made up of a greater percentage of youths. While some served as Commissioners, a large majority served as Senior Special Assistants, Special Assistants, Executive Assistants, Senior Technical Assistants, Technical Assistants, etc. Others were appointed to boards and parastatals.

To show his love for the youth population of Ebonyi State, most of the Development Centres Coordinators are youths

The Bible admonished that children should be trained well so that when they grow up, they will not depart from that good path. It is therefore a clarion call to every leader to put in place, policies and programs that would direct the attention of the young ones away from the vices in the society.

It was the Greek philosopher, Diogenes who said:
"The foundation of every state is the education of its youth".
Gov. Umahi having witnessed the stereotyping of Ebonyi people as semi-humans and using other derogatory adjectives to describe them, decided to bring succor to parents whose wards are divinely gifted but could not afford the cost of quality secondary education. The idea for the King David Gifted Academy is to raise brilliant kids who would become future leaders in every sense of it. Thus, Ebonyi is aspiring to recreate Bennet Omalu, Philip Emeagwali, Albert Einstein, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Chinua Achebe, Nnamdi Azikiwe, etc

Outside the appointment of Ebonyi youths into political positions, Gov. Umahi had empowered 520 Ebonyians, hawking in the streets of Lagos, empowered hundreds of people with tricycles, empowered the Widows and civil servants with a large sum of money, and On July 29, 2021, forty (40) Ebonyi youths were made millionaires with some of them going home with 5m while others went home with 1.5m. This is outside other forms of empowerment like gifting of cars, farm inputs, etc. During the handover of the cheques to the beneficiaries, Umahi said:
"We are doing everything possible to see how we can get our people to do something with their hands. That is the only way that this state can grow. It can only grow with all of us committing ourselves to work hard and then getting small businesses, and then, we can employ others".

When most Governors and leaders in Nigeria were unaware of step(s) to take after the #EndSARS protest that rocked the foundations of the country, Gov. Umahi was the first to convoke a youth summit. During the summit, he launched an N3billion Youth Empowerment Programme. Pragmatic leaders are proactive, and Umahi has proved that he is ahead of his mates.

Agriculture has become the bedrock of many societies in this 21st century. Gone are the days when farmers are regarded as poor, and farming left in the hands of the elderly. Mechanized farming has ensured that any human can invest in agriculture irrespective of age. However, the bottleneck has always been the non-availability of start-up funds.

Gov. Umahi has made it clear from the outset, that he would like every Ebonyi youth to be engaged in one job, career, or business. He understood that when they are engaged, they will not be enticed to go into any form of crime but would help to safeguard the state. Furthermore, it would ensure that there is food sufficiency in the State.

He has matched his talk with actions through the provision of soft loans for Ebonyi youths who are interested in agriculture.

That Ebonyi is one of the safest states in the country is not by default. A price was paid, and gain made.

Before the constituting of the regional security, Ebube-Agu Security Network, Gov. Umahi had constituted the vigilance group, the Neighbourhood Watch to provide security for the state. Gov. Umahi provided an avenue for a symbiotic relationship between his administration and the youth through security. Whereas the youths help in providing security, the government in return pays them for their efforts.

By dint of conscious efforts, Gov. Umahi has become the greatest youth-friendly Governor among his contemporaries. This has in no small way ensured that idle minds that would have been used to foment troubles are properly engaged.

Francis Nwaze, Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Writes From Ebonyi State

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