Emmanuel Nicholas

Finding opportunities for the youth is a critical challenge for Akwa Ibom State, where 40 percent of the population which is more than two million, are teenagers. With no signs that population growth will slow in the decades to come, it is imperative that Akwa Ibom State Government leverage the talent and energy of its youth to create dramatically higher levels of prosperity and equality and avoid the latent risks of unemployment and social instability, an uneducated population could cause.

Today, Nigeria as a Nation finds herself in a precarious position on this most important issue. Youth unemployment is three times the Nation’s overall average. The World Bank found that teenagers represent three-fifths of sub-Saharan Africa’s unemployed population, and 72 percent of their population lives on less than $2 a day. To help their families, 30 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 are forced to work, which robs them of the educational opportunities that could break their families’ cycles of intergenerational poverty.

So what does the average unemployed youth look like in Nigeria ? She is an 18-25year-old girl, living in a rural area, literate but not attending school. Building her skills, reaping her energy, and realizing her aspirations would help every country improve its living standards and ignite economic growth. Empowering her with opportunities to reach and apply her full potential is both our most important challenge and our most vital opportunity.

I often put myself in the shoes of that 18-year-old girl, full of promise but with few opportunities to apply it. She is part of a generation of young Africans who are the most globally connected people ever to have lived on the continent. Although they can see the social and economic progress occurring elsewhere in the world, she and her fellow young Nigerian are largely isolated from that progress.

Offering the youths a quality education is critical for their success. However, only two-thirds of youth who start elementary school in Nigeria graduate, and only one in ten Nigeria students continues on to tertiary education. Even when she obtains her university degree, she will most likely have trouble finding a skilled job in the Country —which is why the country loses an estimated 20,000 skilled workers each year to more developed economies.

Simply put, Nigeria is sitting on a time bomb unless it creates its own jobs through the ingenuity, ability, and skill of its own people. It is the job of leaders to ensure that the millions of young people and women who are willing to put in the work to improve their future have every opportunity to experiment, learn ,adapt—and eventually succeed.

The way we educate our youth in Akwa Ibom State will make all the difference. Entrepreneurship must be an integral part of every young person’s education. We need to impart not only the technical skills of entrepreneurship, but also the mindset of the entrepreneur, through our formal and informal education systems.

Women bear almost all responsibility for meeting basic needs of the family, yet are systematically denied the resources, information and freedom of action they need to fulfil this responsibility.

The vast majority of the world’s poor are women. Two-thirds of the world’s illiterates are female. Of the millions of school age children not in school, the majority are girls and this why both Governor Udom and his wife Deaconess Martha Udom Emmanuel made girl child education number one in their agenda . To achieve this, Governor Udom Emmanuel has built a model Girls school in Abak to give quality education to the girl child .

When women are educated , they are empowered and all of society benefits. Their families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves and incomes increase. In short, communities become more resilient.

Governor Udom Emmanuel’s commitment to empowering our youth with education is inspired by the belief that if we can facilitate the education of youth, we can make an exponential impact on social justice and environmental issues.

Our young people are our future leaders, one of the best places to invest our time and resources.

Young people who do not have adequate education are often considered “at risk.” They are at risk of engaging in criminal activity, drugs, joining gangs, violent behaviour, or being the victims of violence. Psychologically they are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and mental illness.

Akwa Ibom Governor started the empowerment of the youth from the first year of his administration by granting every Child of school age , Free ,qualitative compulsory education from primary to Secondary School and providing scholarship to thousands of students to study in tertiary institution .

The State Government also pays subvention to primary and Secondary School student to cater for logistics and expenses for the administration of each child.

Governor Udom Emmanuel also rehabilitated or constructed hundreds of class room blocks, to make the learning environment comfortable, as school laboratories built and laboratory equipment worth hundreds of millionssupplied, construction of hostels and supply of hundred thousand of desks and text books were also undertaken.

Other accomplishments of Udom’s administration in the education sector include payment of SSCE fees for all students in public secondary schools; payment of NABTEB fees for all students in public technical colleges; Procurement and distribution of science equipment and materials to public secondary schools; implementation of the 27.5 per cent new TSS for teachers, payment of grant to law students as well as pre medical and medical students.

Provision of lecture halls , Radio/Tv studio for mass communication students , construction of New administration block , more engineering/ science Laboratories and construction of internal roads in Akwa Ibom State University at Obio Akpa and Main campus in Ikot Akpaden .

Governor Udom Emmanuel is also sending hundreds of Akwa Ibom State Students abroad to study professional courses that will add value to the economy of the state upon their return after completing the courses.

This is to make sure the Akwa Ibom Child is taken away from the street where he or she would indulge in vices, with a proper education they will be able to be gainfully employed.

A prudent leader knows that education is the key factor of greater economy of any nation and he won’t dwell in frivolities but with great educational agenda that will turn around the living standard of his people, as he won’t stand to see his people languish in poverty caused by illiteracy, but he will move with compassion and prodigious passion to save his race from dying in penury, and provide basic education that will empower the people

Governor Udom Emmanuel’s passion is to see an average Akwa Ibom person being able to graduate from tertiary institution, gainfully employed, afford three square meals a day, have a means of transportation ,being able to educate his children and feed them , where to relax after work with family, drive on comfortable terrain and have a house to call his or her own , in all, being able to be self-sufficient and self-independent

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