His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Plateau State, the Rt. Honourable Simon Bako Lalong,
His Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Prof. Sunni Tyoden,
The Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Peter Azi,
The Secretary to the Government of Plateau State,
Honourable members of the national and state assemblies,
The Chief of Staff Government House,
Management Committee Chairmen,
Royal Highnesses and Majesties present,
The Chairman Larger House of Plateau Youth Council,
Caretaker President National Youth Council of Nigeria
The Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association,
Other Guests present,
Men of the Security Agencies,
Gentlemen of the press,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
Permit me, distinguished members of the audience to extend fraternal greeting of honour, respect and obedience from the Executive arm of the youth council.
Permit me also to recognize other members of the distinguished audience, particularly our special guests of honour, and other senior ranking members of the state government as well as agencies.
Permit me further to extend my valued recognition to our youth local and national for whom this event is of paramount importance.
Finally, permit me to recognize all invitees for the sacrifice of their time, resources and energy to witness this occasion despite their other equally important engagements, the swearing in and inauguration of the EXCO of Plateau State Youth Council.
To begin, I must first praise and commend the courage and resilience demonstrated by His Excellency the Executive Governor of Plateau State towards ensuring the restoration of a platform for the youths of Plateau State. On February 27th 2015, His Excellency came to the Larger House on invitation and promised the youths of Plateau State that he would restore the youth council if elected. Today, history has been made. You kept to your words and we are extremely proud of you. Your display of character, integrity and commitment towards the out of court resolution of the PYC case that lingered for more than a decade is unequalled. You displayed such remarkable qualities of leadership and exceptional governance when you came to show your support to all the contesting candidates for the post of chairman of which I was part of. The assurance you gave of your neutrality in the election was a soothing balm to the wounds created by our misplaced understanding of democracy and a serious tranquillizer to the deep cuts of tension left by old conflicts. Your intervention was indeed timely and a crisis was averted. In the place of fear, you chose compassion. When many were afraid of the Youth Council, you had compassion and gave us a choice and a way.
We congratulate you and your team on the many laudable achievements within the past two years, particularly in the area of restoration of peace and order on the Plateau. We salute your courage for appointing youths into your administration. You believed in the youth and empowered them and there is no denying of their contributions to the success of this administration. Your decision to appoint the youths is your recognition of the role the youths play in nation building and particularly the role they played in the birth of the rescue administration. Worthy of mention is the mobilization of youth participation in the plateau project, and the mandate protection responsibility the youth took across all polling units in the state with the aim of forestalling the rigging of election; this thus demonstrates the youth’s recognition of a need for a united Plateau.
BODY OF SPEECH
The Youth Council election like many other elections we have witnessed was faced with various challenges. We had our fair share of propaganda, blackmails, name callings and quarrels; we were infiltrated by so much negativity like never. We had reasons to disengage and be apart for various interests, and before. But despite it all we emerged stronger than we had anticipated. I appreciate my Co-contestants and all the youths who contested across all the districts and Local Government Areas. Many identified and respected the zoning system, which guarantees the principle of accommodation and consideration for all irrespective of our sundry.
Now that the elections are over, it’s time for the start of a new leadership, and more importantly it’s time for a collective effort. We must all sheath our swords; mend the fences and come together to form a formidable team. We must understand that although the journey ahead might seem like a herculean one, we would overcome and would only do this with everyone on board.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are not unaware of the grave responsibility and task ahead of us. The vacuum created over the past 10 years can be likened to a child whom after a grave illness must learn to walk again. We as a people must learn how to walk all over again. We are not ignorant of the facts that there will be hurdles along the way, but we shall overcome if we believe. As Obama once stated, “The road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term …” but we believe we will get there. Though we are not born with a fixed amount of resilience, but we say today, that we must build this muscle so that we can heap from this valley of despair hope for our people.
Understanding our mindsets and changing our value system through character content development is a sine qua non for achieving any set objective or meaningful goal. We will collectively take a leap of faith to correct the wrong impressions that the world has about us as a nation. We will also endeavor to take a step in the right direction towards recreating ourselves. The plethora of issues that have bedevilled the youths of Plateau State cannot be fully stated in this speech. We shall attempt to list or enumerate a few so we can establish the need for a turn in the searchlight to this critical and yet very important constituency.
Even as we stand here today, our brothers and sisters have been held captive by social vices such as drugs/substance abuse, deep rejection and isolation. Also the problem of unemployment is still very evident as many of our young people roam our streets because they are not engaged or empowered. There is little stability that the educational system can provide when there are shortcomings in other basic areas for young people. Entrepreneurship is lacking, and youth engagement is low. This of course has been a major challenge in the confidence building on the Plateau. The issues of religion and ethnicity are as old as the country itself. One would wonder which of these divides us more. The polarization across political parties or affiliations had made us worse.
The campaign was tagged ‘‘The Age of Reasoning’’. Agreeing on issues and finding a common front is not an option if we must survive. We need to think beyond the idea that has brought us this low. We must find a way of looking at our circumstances and finding the good in it. We cannot be the cradle of leadership in this great nation, a great people with a rich heritage, an intelligent heterogeneous clusters with influence all over, and yet our blessings has turned into an entrapment. We must come together and agree on a way forward.
1. My first duty as Chairman of Plateau Youth Council is to call a Solemn Assembly of Plateau Youths tagged ‘PLATEAU YOUTH SUMMIT’ to be convened and supported by the Government. The Plateau Peace Building Agency will be our major partner in this project. It’s time for reconciliation, recreation and reintegration. We shall gather as a people who seek to restart our lives all over again. We need to acquire the skills to function properly in a post conflict society. Our prosperity will largely depend on these skills. The solutions to the issues that have plagued us will emanate from this summit. Arising also from this summit is a Youth Development Plan that would be formulated and adopted.
2. We shall initiate the process for the creation and establishment of PLATEAU YOUTH DATA BANK, which will Commission a NEEDS assessment of the youth across the 17 Local Government Areas of the State and those in internal Diaspora. This will provide the essential template for the creation of a YOUTH COMMISSION on the Plateau. Issues of youth engagement, education, empowerment, entrepreneurship and employment shall be addressed by the Youth Commission. The Youth Commission will coordinate, implement, supervise, monitor and evaluate programs for youths in collaboration with the State Ministry for Youths and Sports. The Commission will work with government, nonprofits organizations, community leaders, faith based organizations and private entities to develop strategies to improve the lives of Plateau youths.
We shall engage the Federal Character Commission, our representatives at the national assembly, boards, and all stakeholders for job creation, and networking. We will consider engagement from youth organizations, cultural organizations, sports, arts, music, volunteer work, career development, religion, politics, and social activism subject to the evaluation and approval of the designated committee.
3. We shall work towards the inclusion and participation of youth in governance. This would be at all levels of policy formulation and Implementation. We recognize that the current representation is inadequate; it is however better than it has ever been. We aim to work towards bridging gender inequality by ensuring that the female folks are equally and adequately represented.
4. We shall focus on Strategic Youth Empowerment through various agricultural value chains and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Agency (Plateau State Microfinance Development Agency. We shall facilitate Start Ups programs, Seed fund and equipment support for vocational and skills acquisition programs and the Identification of best Business Plans/Proposal for funding under a repayment plan akin to the Federal Government Youth with Innovation Program. Also we will be creating links with Federal Agencies like the Industrial Training Fund for entrepreneurial training.
5. There will also be the renovation of the Azi Nyako Youth Centre Dadin Kowa and the renovation of the Youth centres in Pankshin and Shendam as our priority. These will serve to generate revenue for the youths and reduction to the barest minimum the dependence on government for funding of smaller projects. It will also serve as a hub of learning and information sharing for the youths as well as training of all sorts.
6. We will engage in the legislative advocacy and lobbying for Good Governance Laws and resolutions whilst also ensuring that the usual practice of oversight and picketing all Federal Government recruitment quotas for the state is filled appropriately at the National level and for Federal Agencies in the state.
Through our leadership, we aim to share the thoughts, hopes, expectations and fears of young people on the Plateau. We will ensure the authentic voices of young people are being heard by political actors, donors, civil society and the wider public. We will demonstrate that young people can rise above partisan politics, grasp the wider development issues at stake and make useful contributions to the wider debate. Together, we shall counter the negative discourse around youth engagement in electoral processes; bring together like-minded organizations and individuals to share information and participate in a youth-led advocacy project.
We assure government that Plateau Youth Council, though supported by Government will serve as a shadow government, contributing her suggestions on all aspects of good governance and would not be a pawn in the hands of any political class which would lead to the detriment of the youths of plateau. The PYC will be non Partisan and would be administered without any political, religious or ethnic bias. Plateau youths brings forth a new dawn for the brotherhood, unity, peace and progress of plateau state. The ground with the new leadership is now set for building bridges and establishing new frontiers for a secured and guaranteed future for the Plateau Youth. We hope to be the pioneer of an innovative and progressive system that would inspire other states in our beloved country and beyond, and we also hope to see the birth of future leaders from this very system.
Thomas Jefferson said, and I quote “We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.”
It’s the age of reason. Let reason prevail. Let reason be our watch.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, may I salute a fearless, humble and generous leader, Chief George Michael Maqual. The Chairman, Larger House of Plateau Youth Council. A man, whose belief and passion birthed this movement.
Chief Maqual, You are indeed a great man, you’re an inspiration to many and a creator of leaders. We are not ashamed to call you our mentor, our friend and father. Your position created a benchmark for today’s event, and your sterling contributions will forever remain with us. We shall tell our children, children’s children and a thousand generations to come what you did for the youths of Plateau state. It was indeed a long walk to freedom.
To the Chief of Staff, Chief John Dafaan, you were a lender of the last resort in this movement. We thank you for never letting us down despite the so many jobs on your hands. You filled the gap for His Excellency, and you have proven to be a dependable friend, leader and ally. God bless and keep you.
To the Director of Research, Government House, Prof. John Wokton Wade, you are simply the best and we appreciate you.
To Tsenba Bako, the ray of light at the end of the tunnel for the amicable consent judgment and out of court settlement came from you. You said it was possible. Your understanding that we were at a critical point in history was amazing. You collaborated with all stakeholders, and people in government to give us hope. Today, the youths of Plateau state salute you.
To the veterans who believed in us, to the veterans who stood on the side of truth against all odds, to the veterans who were never fatigued by our constant complains, to the veterans who staked everything despite the back lashings, to the veterans who said, this is your time to take over, we are eternally grateful. Telzing Miri, Amos Dombin,Dul Sunday Longbap, A A Madaki, Georgina Dashe et al, you are the heroes we celebrate today.
To the Electoral Committee, we salute your courage and display of professionalism. You did a wonderful and amazing job. Thanks for standing your ground.
To our Parent and supervising ministry, the Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, we are proud of you.
To God Almighty, you are the reason why we lift our heads devoid of shame and reproach. Hail Our King.
‘‘Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck and to provide for our posterity is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together in this work as one man, we must entertain each other in brotherly affection, we must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others necessities, we must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other, make others condition our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labour and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, our community as members of the same body, so shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. The Lord will be our God and delight to dwell among us, as His own people and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways. So we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness and truth than formerly we have been acquainted with. For we shall find that the God of the heavens is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies, when we shall make a praise and glory, that men shall say of succeeding plantations; the Lord make like that of Plateau state(paraphrased). For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in His work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us….. ’’ John Winthrop
We are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. I have been guided my entire life by John Winthrop’s sermon before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella three hundred and eighty seven years ago, as we are faced with the task of building a new youth council on a perilous frontier. We cannot afford to disappoint because the eyes of the world is on us. We must rise and shine for the Glory of the Lord is upon us. Failure is not an option.
Dr Fabong Jemchang Yildam
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