Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom on Wednesday enjoined Benue youths to be optimistic of what the future holds for them and get prepared by tapping into available opportunities, saying that there was nothing that could stop a determined youth.
Speaking at the opening of the Benue Youths Summit in Makurdi, the governor who use analogy of himself in rising from grass to grace because he was determined urged Benue youths to break limitation of any kind to attain success in life.
In an elaborate speech which he presented on the occasion, the governor noted that his administration would deliberately initiate policies that will develop youths in the State.
Ortom maintained: “It is with great pleasure and fulsome appreciation of the will of God Almighty that I welcome you all to this epoch event of the first Benue Youth Summit convened by and for the young people of the state with the full support of my Administration.
“We thank and praise God for making this historic day possible and for keeping us safe to be able to part of it. I commend the organisers for their hard work in putting the forum together and all the participants for deeming it worth their while to attend.
“It trust that you will be mindful that COVID-19 is still here with us and therefore be careful to observe all the safety protocols.
“Three weeks ago, I presented the 2021 budget proposals to the State Assembly, where I used the occasion to reiterate the policy and objective of the State Government with regards to the youth of the State.
“As I said, our policy goal and commitment are to ensure that every young man and young woman in Benue State is empowered to actualize their potential sooner rather than later.
“It is to this end that my Administration has set ourselves the target of ensuring that every young person in our state sees a future that is clear and within his or her reach.
“We are determined to ensure that every young person in Benue State has the preparation and the perspective to face life with confidence, and the assurance that he or she will have the opportunity to succeed. While the government cannot force everyone to be successful, it is duty bound to ensure that everyone has the chance to succeed and that no-one fails for lack of opportunity.
“Let me reiterate here why I believe it is important for young people to have the preparation, perspective and opportunity to succeed.
“I will use my own life story as an illustration. As many of you already know, I was only a teenager when I was forced by circumstances to drop out of junior secondary school and begin life as a motor park tout who would later become a bus conductor and a driver.
“I could have closed the road to my future by bitterly lamenting my circumstances, blaming everyone and neglecting to improve my prospects for a better future. Instead, God helped me to realise that I could travel farther, despite the limited prospects that were staring me in the face.
“That was the perspective on life that motivated me to embark the correspondence course in sales that paved the way for me to become a manager in a major corporate enterprise and to later resume my formal schooling.
“You would notice that it was because of my perspective that I could take from my meagre driver’s income to pay for my correspondence course that qualified me for a sales job.
“Work, training, schooling. That was the non-traditional order in which I started my journey to self-actualisation.
“Of course not everyone followed this order.
“Others missed out on one or more of these options altogether, as we see in the generation of pioneering entrepreneurs like Tilley Gyado, Padopads Awuna and Obande Obeya. Many of these pioneers did not have formal education at all but still went on to build successful enterprises.
“They also pioneered corporate social responsibility by building schools and health facilities that have contributed immensely to the growth of our state.
“The world has changed a lot since I was a young man and since these pioneers made their mark. The opportunities that were available to previous generations seem to have disappeared. For many young people today, things have become much tougher.
“High rates of unemployment and poverty, insecurity, economic decline, the impact of a disruptive pandemic and the total breakdown in citizens’ trust of government have been issues highlighted in the recent ENDSARS protests.
“Yet for many others, this changing world has created new opportunities that could not have been imagined even a few years ago. The ICT and digital revolution has created opportunities that previously only existed in science fiction.
“Many Nigerian youths, including quite a few from Benue, have already become notable figures in this new world. Fashion, sports, arts and entertainment, including music, film, comedy and other creative enterprises have become important routes to self-actualisation for many young Nigerians.
“I urge you our dear youths to key into the ICT revolution as it is a dependable path to self-reliance.
“Others are finding new doors of opportunity in old sectors. Transportation, agriculture, education, health, trade, banking, mining, construction and real estate, manufacturing, media and many other industries have been opened up by new technologies and disruptive new business approaches.
“A few years ago, who would have thought that Uber, Jumia, Konga, air bnb, interswitch, influencers and numerous others would be such huge enterprises employing millions and worth billions of naira?
“For us in Benue State, we have comparative advantage in agriculture. That is why our administration is making deliberate efforts to support our farmers through subsidy on fertilizer and farm machinery such as tractors.
“Let me inform you my dear Benue youths that the partnership this administration has with Bank of Industry is still running. I, therefore, encourage you to access the loans at only five percent interest rate to start your businesses through the agriculture-value chain -production, through processing and marketing.
“We can all see that many young people are finding and creating new opportunities and winning the future even as the circumstances have become more challenging. For those who have seized these new opportunities the future is here. We are keen that our young people are counted among the winners.
“Preparation is key to winning, because without preparation it may be difficult to seize or even see opportunities.
Having the right perspective is also important. Without the right perspective, even the most prepared will fail to see or seize the opportunities that may be available.
“There seems to be some truth to the popular adage that some see opportunities in every difficulty even as others see difficulty in every opportunity. In any case it is very matter of perspective as it is a matter of reality. Having the right perspective is crucial to closing the gap between the present and the future.
“Closing the gap between the present and the future is what this summit.
We are keen to help our youth as they prepare to seize the future that is now upon them. Hence, we are keen to engage with you to better understand how we can better support their quest to bridge the gap between the present and the future.
“It is not a platform for you to hear from officials. Instead, the summit is a forum for you to share your perspectives, to share how you see yourselves grabbing hold of your future and to share how you see the government and others contributing to that. It is an opportunity for us as officials to listen carefully as you discuss the issues that are important to you and what you believe can be done about them.
“Our expectation is that there will be a careful mapping of the specific needs of the different categories of the state’s youth in order to ensure that empowerment interventions are targeted and effective.
“On our part, we promise to listen attentively and to offer a credible response that will reflect how carefully we have listened. At the end of the summit I will be confirming what we have heard and how we are responding.
“It is therefore with a great sense of anticipation and expectation that I hereby declare the summit open to the glory of God and for the good of our people.”
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