REVIVING IMO YOUTH DEVELOPMENT AND EMPOWERMENT CENTRES, A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Anyanwu Chinemerem Nwabunze

Youth Development and Empowerment Centres play essential roles in improving the overall well-being
of youths, families, communities and the wider society. It increases creativity and productivity among youths, empowers individual youths to become self-reliant
and it ultimately stimulates entrepreneurship.

Youth empowerment means all positive efforts taken deliberately towards improving the lives of young people; efforts channeled towards developing the capacities of young ones to draw out the best out of them, bearing in mind that they are truly the leaders of tomorrow.
Youth empowerment programmes is in vogue globally to create and support the enabling environment and conditions under which young people can act on their own behalf, and on their own terms, rather than at the direction of others.

The benefits of youth empowerment include crime reduction, poverty alleviation and eradication, national growth, security, technological development, employment creation and good governance. Youth empowerment leads to community prosperity for next generations, innovative, transparent social and political systems, less dependability on government by the youths, opportunity of voice on youth issues as well as advocate them at local and international level.

Usually, investors are more willing to invest in a State with strong
human resources, particularly the youths with skills. Skills development can therefore contribute to
strengthening the social links of a society by promoting employment, creativity and productivity for
sustainable means of subsistence. Skill acquisition training programmes have
been an integral part of national development plans and strategies in many societies. This is because of the impact of skills on human resources development, productivity, and economic growth.

Despite it’s
proven contributions,the former governor, Rocha’s Okorocha, for eight years, did not give Youth Empowerment Centers the attention they
deserved. And that appears to be one of the reasons for the rising rate of unemployment and poverty
in the State.

There is a need to establish a secure and poverty free State for youths to become
influential members of any society. Poverty, hunger, homelessness society, sickness and
lack of security are paramount issues that require immediate attention, if truly young people are expected to become leaders of the future. For many
youths in the State, these problems are daily challenges, when they cannot feed, clothe or
shelter themselves or their immediate family, they surely cannot realize their full
potentials, since the need for survival is so overwhelming that a good number of young
people have fallen victim to the pressures of survival. Many youths have ended up as arm-
robbers, kidnappers, prostitutes, scammers, or militants fighting unnecessary causes.

The failure of the past Imo government to revive Youth Development and Empowerment Centres, with emphasis on empowering the youths for self-actualization and
employment to cater for their basic social needs, exacerbated the problem with the youth class. It is therefore
imperative to note that, the world needs skilled workers. With Imo Youths
at the core, skills aquisition could fill the
void.

No doubt, the present government has shown it’s readiness to revive Youth Empowerment and Development Centres In State. With the recent inspection tour to Youth Development Centres by the Senior Special Assistant on Youth Development and Empowerment ,Mrs Irono with Engr. Rex Okoro , the Special Assistant to the Imo State Governor on Youth Affairs , it was underscored that there are still needs to pay more attention to Youth empowerment.

That again stresses the importance of skills acquisition by youths in growth of the State. The officials emphatically contended, “that the social and economic problems of Imo State will be drastically reduced if the present government can give adequate attention to training in skills, raw materials, machineries and equipment”.

It is only with skilled men and women that materials can be harnessed, manipulated and transformed into highly resourceful products, with quality skills acquisition programmes in our Youth Empowerment and Development Centres.

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