OPEN LETTER TO ALL RIVERS YOUTHS by Awala Uwuma



My fellow youths of our dear Rivers State, my name is Awala Uwuma, I am a female indigene of Ahoada East LGA.

As one of the young persons affected by the actions and in-actions of the political class, I have decided to share with you what though appears as my story but what is, in essence a story of all of us irrespective of the divide you belong including those who claim neutrality.

To begin with, let me inform you that I am one of those who have experienced the two major political divides, talking of the APC and PDP as applicable in our state. It is my experiences that have informed this discussion.

You know it is not for fancy that governments exist, rather governments exist to resolve the difficult collective challenges in the society. But because a lot of challenges exist in the society, government through scale of preference, determines and resolves these challenges by order of priorities. It is by resolving these challenges that the citizens overcome their own personal difficulties and achieve life dreams.

Reading through the speech presented to Gen.Yakubu Gowon by one of the founding fathers of our state and its first indigenous Military Administrator, Commander Diette-Spiff (Rtd), I came to realize that Education and Manpower development in the Niger Delta was one of the core reasons this state was created.

Being so, it therefore follows that Education and Manpower development must be a core component of every government.
I ask us, 50 years later, how much of that objective has been realized, have we become more educated today than we were few years ago?

In order to achieve these goals, the immediate past State Government embarked on unprecedented massive Scholarships both home and abroad and paid bursary to students from the state. The government also constructed modern Primary and Secondary Schools in nearly all the wards and LGAs of the state.

I know of at least 20 Rivers people who have become better educated by the opportunities provided by our State under the immediate past Government of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

As in every human community, we are expected to make progress, to move from one point to another.
Nearly 3 years later, do we have better schools, do we have more people on Scholarships, have we created better opportunities for our people?
I sat down to analyze the place of young persons in the present administration and my conclusion is as good as whatever yours could be. Amongst hundreds of us who worked to bring about the government, only few of us have been recognized. And the few recognition was not a function of the beneficiaries competence but on other considerations. Examples are the two young men working as Special Assistants on Social Media,one got the job because he is an In-law to the Governor, while the other is one of the nominees of Barr.Nimi Walson-Jack. But even at that, the youths were appointed to be on Social Media and not any strategic portfolio. Why not something more important? I expected that considering the roles youths played in installing the government, they would have been assigned better portfolios where they directly partake in policies and programmes that affect their fellow youths, but they ended up on the Social Media.

Another cardinal objective for the creation of the State was to facilitate Infrastructural development in the heart of the Niger Delta. 50 years is long enough time to review the journey of Statehood.This is 21st century and our State is still at the stage where its government celebrate construction of markets. We are still at a stage where it is taking nearly 4years to renovate less than 1km from Agip Junction to former Mr.Biggs popularly called Abacha Rd.

Almost all our fellow Niger Delta states are constructing sustainable and future looking projects.
Edo is constructing an ambitious 200B naira Industrial Park and has also partnered BUA Group on a $1B Cement factory;
Cross Rivers is embarking on the Bakassi Deep Sea Port and another Superhighway that connects various parts of the State from goods entry points to the City centre.
Akwa Ibom is dualizing and remodeling the Ibom Airport to attract more Aviation activities, the State recently got the VP to commission the multi billion dollar Syringe factory,the largest in Africa. The State has a partnership with a company to manufacture meters here in Nigeria, with the ever increasing population in need of electricity, one can only imagine how much the state stands to gain and the employment opportunities it will create when such projects goes live. As if that's not enough, the State is seriously pursuing its Ibom Industrial City Plan.

Even Up North, Governments in Kaduna, Kano, Niger down to even Jigawa are moving into sustainable projects that will impact on the lives of the present and future generations.They have long grown beyond deploying dance troupes when commissioning renovated roads.
Even though all the aforementioned projects have not been completed, they show governments with vision and creativity, they exemplify governments that understand the need to plan not just for today but also for the future.

But then, I look back home in our state and see a government celebrating renovation of ordinary jetties.

Who really has bewitched us?
With all these going on in these other states, our Rivers government is giving out SUVs worth millions of naira to people who are actually not in need of them while poor Rivers students languish away in UK because the same government has refused to continue funding their education. Those back home here are also not living any better, for the first time in 50 years, they have not received bursary for over 3 consecutive years.
I checked and realized the minimum cost of each of the 16 SUVs is between 60-65m. 60m multiplied by 16 gives us 960m, a little less than 1B. That amount would have done a lot other better things. It can pay the pension of our dying Pensioners for almost 6 months. It could have greatly reduced the over 24months salaries arrears owed staff of RSSDA and 7months owed those of Greater Port City Development Agency.

Even, that amount would have impacted greatly on the lives of hundreds of supporters of the Governor in this difficult economic time. Imagine the Governor had opted to use that money to empower his young supporters, it means that nearly 960 of them would have become richer by 1m each. Even though they are given 500k each, then almost 2000 young persons would have been lifted off the poverty mark.

Instead of looking towards the direction of the youths, the Governor chose to enrich the already wealthy. If added to the fact that the state has not celebrated any Youth day since this government came on board, one then begins to seriously wonder what place young people occupy in the scheme of things.

I remember Sen.Lae Maeba threatened on radio, shortly before the 2015 elections, that the first thing they would do would be to burn down the already thriving Banana Plantation in Tai & Khana LGAs of the state that provided employment for local women and youths of the area and truly, the plantation was burnt down few days after the present government came on board.The saddest thing is that since then nothing new and better has been brought as replacement for the plantation.

I really do not know, as a matter of fact, what facet of our lives has improved as a State since this government, please if you know any that are verifiable, you can do well to remind us.

Like I said earlier, the essence of this letter is not to convince you to agree with my opinions but to raise very critical issues for collective consideration.
Finally, like I said earlier, I have been on both divides, I have seen things from the both perspectives, I have come to now appreciate what we actually lost in 2015.
May we never repeat such a mistake in 2019.
Finally, like I said earlier, I have been on both divides, I have seen things from the both perspectives, I have come to now appreciate what we actually lost in 2015.
May we never repeat such mistakes in the future.

I remain Comrade Awala Uwuma, your Ekpeye Sister. One love.

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