Mr Ndifreke Patrick, Project Lead, Youth Development Cluster, Akwa Ibom State (middle) flanked by Mr Mfon Gabriel, Lead, Extractives at Policy Alert and Mercy Akpan, during a press conference.

Abasifreke Effiong

More than 14 Civil Society Organisations working on youth development projects in the Akwa Ibom State have said that the three leading candidates contesting for governorship of the state do not have a sustainable youth development plan.

The CSOs under the aegis of Youth Development Cluster, said they have analysed the manifestoes of the candidates of the APC, PDP and YPP, and none has a clear cut direction on what it will do for the youths.

At a media briefing on manifesto analysis of Akwa Ibom State Gubernatorial Candidates in 2023 Election, held at Uruanus hotel Uyo on Wednesday, representatives of the CSOs working on the project said “none of the manifestoes has a clear cut direction on what it has to do sustainably for the youths of Akwa Ibom State.”

The project lead, Mr Ndifreke Patrick, said more than 14 CSOs including Youth Alive Foundation, Youth For Change Initiative, Policy Alert, Youth Cluster of Persons With Disabilities, Greater Tomorrow Initiative among others, analysed manifesto candidates of the three political parties after they carried out a survey that indicated they are the leading parties in the governorship race.

He said the Youth Development Cluster is working on the project in five states in Nigeria, and lamented that despite the huge development gaps among youths in the State none of the three leading candidates, Akanimo Udofia of APC, Umo Eno of PDP and Senator Bassey Albert of YPP outlined a sustainable development plan for the youths of the state.

According to the group, “the manifesto of the selected party candidates analyzed were based on two factors which are: Global Youth Development Index (YDI) and The Akwa Ibom Youth Development Fund (AKYDF) Bill. The YDI is a measure of the process that enhances the status of young people, empowering them to build on their competences and capabilities for life and enabling them to contribute and benefit from a politically stable, economically viable and legally supportive environment, ensuring their full participation as active citizens in their countries whereas the AKYDF Bill is a bill for a law to implement a sustainable youth policy framework.”

“A key objective of the AKYDF is to create economic development opportunities through a legally established, independent, and recognized institution saddled with this duty.”

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“However, it should be stated that while all 3 parties reviewed highlighted their activities and initiatives with attempt at improving youth development, none of the 3 parties reviewed offered a sustainable policy framework that could be said to have a clear and comprehensive framework or plan to actually expect different and better outcomes for youth development as at the time of review of their manifestos.”

“The cluster particularly find these gaps worrisome as it would suggest that the thinking that goes into developing campaign manifestos seems to be far detached from the realities of the people with respect to the peculiarities of citizens challenges and asks in the bid to create an equitable, productive, and enabling society where young people can pursue and achieve their dreams. The manifesto analysis team however had made recommendations to all 3 political parties whose manifestos were reviewed.”

“Two (2) major recommendations that are fundamentally foundational to the expected youth development outcomes are the sustainable youth development framework contained in the Akwa Ibom Youth Development Fund (AKYDF) Bill awaiting assent of Gov. Emmanuel Udom and the formulation of a State Youth Policy awaiting the committee setup and release of funds for commencement of the process.”

“The manifesto analysis review team recommends that in the event of any concerns nursed about these policy instruments being proposed, the gubernatorial candidates of these political parties should be at liberty to have a roundtable policy dialogue designed to propose superior solutions for the good and profiting of young persons in Akwa Ibom State.”

“Within the window of this election cycle, we had to see what the governorship candidates have for the youths. We looked at the manifestoes of the YPP, PDP and APC candidates. From analysis of the manifestoes, we feel that there is a critical area that is lacking, there is no sustainable development framework for the youth.”

Speaking on behalf of youths with disabilities in the State, Ms Joy Ukpong, said its was disheartening to note that none of three leading candidates has a plan for the inclusion of disabled youths.

“Whatever manifesto you are writing shouldn’t exclude some group of persons. Youths with disabilities are not catered for in any of the manifestoes we analysed”, Ms Ukpong said.