The Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, has called on the Federal Government to quickly resuscitate the Warri Port, saying it is key to curbing unemployment in the state and the nation.
The governor made the call at a Town Hall meeting with youths, including #ENDSARS protesters, civil society groups, students, social groups, community leaders and stakeholders across Delta South and Delta Central Senatorial Districts on Thursday in Warri.
Okowa said that with the congestion of the ports in Lagos, the Federal Government should revive Warri Port and other seaports in Delta to boost the nation’s economy and create employment for the youths.
He noted that the rate of unemployment was very high, but could not be immediately reversed, stressing that checking unemployment was not just about employing people into public service as not more than five per cent of the population would benefit from it.
Okowa disclosed that to tackle the unemployment trend, his administration adopted skills acquisition and entrepreneurship programmes to empower them.
“We will try to improve our processes of helping our youths to acquire skills and provide them with starter packs.
“The more active ports we have the better for the nation; our economy isn’t working the way it ought to work because Lagos is congested.
“The Warri channel needed to be dredged and the Federal Government has awarded phase one of the dredging but until phase two is awarded we will not be able to achieve any success story on that,” he said.
He thanked the youths for peacefully coordinating themselves and assured that his administration would address some of the issues raised, noting that town hall meetings were an opportunity to hear from the people directly and provide solutions to issues bordering them.
The governor said that the State Government was building multi-billion naira Storm Water drainages in Warri to address the perennial flooding in the city.
“Water channel in Warri is built up, so we set up a committee of those who knew what Warri was in those days and I am glad that today we are now at the operationalisation stage of the report.
“The Warri Stadium will be rehabilitated after we have succesfully addressed the flooding challenges in the area.
“Government is about the participation of the people and the governance process is not easy but I believe that we can do better and we can only do that when we begin to talk with ourselves.
“A representative government ordinarily should be about the people’s interest, but it appears we are not doing enough because if every representative returns home to meet with the people and seek their inputs on the challenges facing them, then we would have been able to address these challenges.
“Going forward, House of Assembly members, Commissioners, Council Chairmen and Councillors should communicate more with their people so that we can nip in the bud some of these, early enough,” he said.
Okowa urged the youths to show interest in governance and challenged them to show capacity that they could do what the elders failed to do.
“We have, as a government, encouraged more youths into governance because we believe that youths are the leaders of tomorrow.
“In our next local government elections, we will ensure that 80 to 90 per cent of youths and girls occupy councillorship positions,” he stated.
Earlier, Commissioner for Youths Development, Comrade Ifeanyi Egwunyenga, underscored the importance of youths in the social and economic development of any nation.
He said the Town Hall meeting was convened in recognition of the critical roles the youths played in nation-building.
Speakers at the meeting said, the ENDSARS protests were an expression of the anger of the youths in not just ending police brutality but also ending bad governance, unemployment and the hopelessness of tomorrow.
They called on the government to bridge the gap between it and the youths by bringing more youths into governance and called for an amendment of the Nigeria Constitution to pave way for restructuring and resource control.
The participants also deplored the economic deprivation, infrastructural decadence and political strangulation of the youths in Delta and urged the governor to address all the oppressive issues against them by government and security agents.
The youths added that the Warri Port, Delta Steel Company and other Industries in Warri axis should be resuscitated as a way of curbing the rising unemployment in the state.
The governor had earlier inspected the ongoing construction of Technical College in Effurun in Uvwie Local Government Area.
He expressed satisfaction with the pace and quality of work and urged the contractor to deliver the job on schedule.