We will partner with LEAP Africa – CR DEPUTY GOVERNOR

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Cross River State Government has assured LEAP Africa of its partnership to hone the skills and knowledge of young people for effective participation, decision-making, and co-creation of knowledge in diverse spaces.

The Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Peter Odey while receiving a LEAP Africa delegation in his office in Calabar stated that the youths should always be at the centre of every decision-making process.

Mr. Odey stressed that today’s youth embodied the hope and promise of a thriving state and country that will eventually lead the African continent for generations to come. He said Cross River State would remain outstanding for always providing a platform for youths, emphasizing that the youngest member of the Senate, Senator Asuquo Ekpenyong, and the youngest minister-nominee, Hon. Dr. Betta Edu, are products of the kind of politics that Cross River State is known for, a youth-oriented leadership.

Odey who extended a warm welcome to the state and promised to take them to the Governor, said he would continue to reach out to young people to ensure they are properly empowered and prepared for the future in Cross River State.

He particularly thanked LEAP Africa for its regular and continuous engagement of Cross Riverians in its various interventions stating that “the youths hold a world of promise and it is imperative that a state as Cross River ensures the delivery or actualization of this promise.”

Speaking earlier during the courtesy call, the Director of Programmes for LEAP Africa, Ms. Amabelle Nwakanma, disclosed that the organization’s goal was to raise leaders that will transform Africa, through interventions for young people, and bridge the gap in leadership, education, employability, and entrepreneurship, as well as equipping and empowering young change-makers with effective tools for building sustainable social enterprises.

Ms. Nwakanma who disclosed that LEAP Africa through the Nigeria Youth Futures Fund disbursed up to $560,000 in 2022 to 130 individuals and organizations across the country, said another $900,000 would be disbursed this year to catalyze youth active participation and development, and Cross River State currently houses the regional hub for South-South Nigeria. She stressed, “We have some grantees in Cross River and the goal of the Fund is so we can empower young people in Nigeria in every state and the FCT to be more active citizens, to promote civic participation, and to provide funding for things that can be done at the grassroots level for national development. “The reason we are in Cross River [today] is so we can do a monitoring visit with our catalytic grantee, The Bridge Leadership Foundation, and also check in with other grantees in the state.”

Ms. Nwakanma talked about the Nigeria Youth Futures Fund, a $5 Million fund aimed at empowering youth for social change and activism through inclusive resourcing and outcomes-driven policy engagement, which she said was targeting young people aged 15-35 years while conceding that “the participation of Nigerian youth in leadership and politics has evolved and needs to be strengthened’.

Ikenna Ogbudimkpa, The Project Lead of the Nigeria Youth Futures Fund, also added that youth inclusion in governance is a priority and advocated for the governor to streamline young people in the administration, especially for the Youth Commissioner to be a young person under 35.

The Deputy Governor assured the team that the Commissioner for Youth will be a youth, and cited that Cross River is a youth-friendly state.

The team from LEAP Africa presented the Nigeria We Want Report curated through a visioning process from across the 6 geopolitical zones and 36 States of Nigeria including delegates from Cross River State.

Ms. Nwakanma noted that the report aims to be a guiding document for state administration, government institutions, and other stakeholders to mainstream youth participation and see youths as partners in development to co-create a future where Nigeria achieves her potential. She expressed hope that the recommendations would be considered by the administration as these would help in mainstreaming youth in the administration’s policies for the good of Cross River State.

The Deputy Governor confirmed receipt of advance copies of the report and pledged his commitment to reviewing and actioning recommendations especially as it has to do with young people.

The Team which included Kamaldeen Afolabi, the Grants, and MERL Specialist thanked the Deputy Governor and expressed commitment to partner with the Cross River State Government on their youth development efforts.

 

By Fred Abua