Posted by Evelyn Affia
As a trained professional communicator from Clark University, USA, and a committed member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Comrade Aniefiok Iwaudofia, Special Assistant to the Governor on Youth Matters, exudes an ambient of strength, foresight and hope for the Akwa Ibom youth. In an on-the-spot interaction with Ibom Telegraph, he rekindled those virtues again. Excerpts:
Politicking towards 2019 is in top gear and the youths are bulk of the voters. How prepared are the youths in this regards?
There is a global agitation that is canvassing 10% for the youths. The idea is that in whatever thing you are doing, reserve 10% for the youth. In Akwa Ibom State, we cannot have 10% of who becomes the Governor in 2019 because we have already ceded it to Governor Udom Emmanuel. That has been agreed within the youth circle. It has been agreed in Heaven. It has been agreed on earth. And it might interest you to know that I keep saying CONGRATULATIONS to the Governor because I know he has already won the election.
The 2019 governorship is a walkover for Governor Udom Emmanuel. In the National Assembly, we need 10%. For the three Senators, you cannot divide, so we allow that because one has to be a political philosopher to become a Senator. For the House of Representatives, we need 10% as statutory for the total number Federal Constituencies and that is not to say we cannot get more. Among the House of Assembly seats, we need more than 10%. Commissioners, we need 10%. In the Chairmanship and Councillorship of the Local Government Councils, we need 10%. So, the youths of Akwa Ibom are prepared.
On your appointment as Special Assistant to the Governor on Youth Matters, you were given the mandate of taking the youth of Akwa Ibom State back to God and to see that they are fully empowered. How far have you gone with that mandate?
Upon my appointment on 1st July 2015, our mentor and leader, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel gave me a charge, to take the youths of Akwa Ibom State back to God. And that, I have been doing diligently for the past 20 months, to be precise, we have visited 20 churches across the 31 Local Government Areas of the state to seek the face of God and to pray for the youths of Akwa Ibom State to prosper, to be productive and peaceful and most importantly, to pray for our leader, Governor Udom Emmanuel. It is our belief that once a leader is at peace, he will achieve a lot to our own benefit.
We have been praying for the leadership of the state and the resultant effect has been very magnanimous and that is why Akwa Ibom State is the most peaceful state in West Africa. I said West Africa because I have travelled to a few African countries and I have not seen any state as peaceful as Akwa Ibom State. That is why we have youths of Akwa Ibom State being gainfully engaged and I want to say that the Governor has been very supportive.
Recently you were elected Chairman of the Akwa Ibom Youth Caucus. What has been the challenge so far?
For me, I see it as an added responsibility. It is true that when you are good at a particular task, more tasks are added unto you. That is why it is called job tasking. With this added responsibility as Chairman of the state Youth Caucus, Youth Caucus being the conglomeration of the entire youths leaders in the state, from political youth groups to faith-based and voluntary youth organizations, I want to thank the leadership of the Akwa Ibom State Youth Advisory Council that is headed by Isantim Kenneth Okon (Wayas) and other members of the Council who deemed it fit to enthrone me as Chairman of the State Youth Caucus.
The challenges are enormous but I know with God on my side and with the support of the youths of Akwa Ibom State, they are all surmountable. And we are going to move forward to coerce youths of the state, knowing that the job has just begun. We are ready to make Akwa Ibom State a safe haven for investor and to make the Governor have a very peaceful environment for his industrialization drive.
As the man in charge of youth affairs in the state, are you comfortable with the state of mind of the Akwa Ibom youth? Are the youths ready to be invested upon?
Governor Udom Emmanuel started by preparing the minds of the Akwa Ibom youths so that he could invest in such minds. And today, I am proud to say that an average Akwa Ibom youth has his mind ready for investment. In terms of empowerment, the Governor has rolled out inter-ministerial direct labour to youths in every local government area. The essence of putting it in the local government area is to allow the rural youths to also benefit from it.
The Governor has been paying school fees to thousands of students in the tertiary institutions. He has been establishing small businesses for youths of the state through the Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme (AKEES). I tell you, a lot of youths have been gainfully engaged and they are currently doing so well. More so, the Governor has been giving the youth low hanging fruits monthly to keep body and soul together.
Have you, at any point in the course of your duty, had conflict with other aides, particularly with Isantim Kenneth Okon and Prince Tony Akan?
No, I have never had conflict with any of my colleagues. People don’t really understand the offices. These are three distinct offices. If you were at the venue of the last Youth Get-Together, the Governor made it clear by saying “all the youths of Akwa Ibom State, wherever you find yourself, be it in PDP, APC or any other political party, as long as you are an Akwa Ibomite and you are a youth, you are under Comrade Aniefiok Iwaudofia, the SA to the Governor on Youth Matters.”
For convenience and proper coordination, the Governor deemed it fit to create other platforms to coordinate youth and other activities. For political youth groups, the Governor puts it under Wayas based on his experience as a former ALGON Chairman. Then Tony Akan, Grassroots Mobilization. This has to do with those in the rural communities which include youths, elders and women. Why mobilized them? It is for them to know what government is doing. Things like electricity, fertilizer and so many other things. So, this has nothing to do with my office. There is neither friction nor division and we have never had any conflict in the course of our duties. People are just speculating the issue of conflict of duty. We are working as a team to strengthen each other for the good of the state.
Advice to the youths of Akwa Ibom State.
We must be very resolute. We must rise to our faith of greatness knowing that with God we can reach our potential. We must believe in God, knowing that it is only God that gives power; it is only God that gives life. We must respect the sanctity of life as youths of Akwa Ibom State. We must protect government investments in all our respective communities. We must not allow traditional issues to juxtapose with our thinking and right sense of responsibility. We must give Governor Udom Emmanuel 100% support because with him, youths of Akwa Ibom State will be employers of youth from other states of the federation. So, the future is bright and secured with Udom Emmanuel, let’s believe in him. We have no other option than to queue behind him till 2023.
Let’s respect our elders, leaders and our forerunners. And finally, we must maintain sustainable peace in Akwa Ibom State. The state must continue to remain the most peaceful state in West Africa, knowing that no development can thrive in an atmosphere that is devoid of peace. Udom is our Man.