It is said that the youths of a nation are the trustees of posterity; and their power the common wealth for the entire world. Thus the Enugu state government under the leadership of his Excellency Rt. Hon. Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has been working tirelessly to ensure that youths are fully involved in sustainable development.
Speaking at the public hearing event organised by Connected Development, themed “Enhancing Youth Participation for Sustainable Development”, the Honourable Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Dr. David O. Ugwunta reiterated that the administration of Rt. Hon. Dr. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi from inception saw the need to carry the youths along in the development process; and as a result has appointed so many youths into strategic positions. Dr. Ugwunta noted that the State Government has through the Ministry of Budget and Planning “Citizens Engagement” platform has provided an opportunity where the youths can participate in discussions pertaining to budget preparation and implementation as well as nominate projects and programmes in the budget, they would want the State Government to implement. Recall that aside the numerous development projects in the Economic Sector of the 2021 budget, Enugu State Government allocated over 2.5billion naira representing 2.5% of its capital size of over 101billion naira for youth oriented programmes in the areas of SME, Agriculture, Science and Technology, Human Capital and Poverty alleviation, labour and productivity amongst others.
Dr. Ugwunta equally stated that the state government all in a bid to empower the youths for sustainable development through the Enugu State Scholarship and Loans Board runs a mentorship programme where the Board have recruited about six mentors in various institutions across the globe to mentor Enugu State citizens on accessing fully funded scholarships abroad. Both internationally and locally, the State government has been sponsoring young people from the State on scholarship.
Reacting to questions raised by participants in the public hearing pertaining to the budgetary provision of 10million naira in the 2021 budget for the Tech Hubs, Dr. Ugwunta stated that the State Government recently inaugurated the two Tech and Innovation Hubs as a youth-focused project targeted at alleviating the crippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by empowering youths in the State to develop IT skills which will in turn leverage them in the fast changing and competitive world. Thus, the 10million naira allocated to the project in the 2021 budget was for the completion of the construction and equipping of the Hubs which its construction started in year 2020. He clarified that the Tech hub domiciled in the Ministry of Science and Technology is not yet backed by an Act of legislation and this explains the reason why it could not appear in the budget of the State as an Agency of Government. He further noted that the Managers of the Hub which were recently recruited are expected to come up with their programmes / projects for inclusions in the 2022 budget and beyond.
Further reacting to a question asked on “what the State Government is doing to revive the educational sector in the area of medicine, research and substandard quality of education”, Dr. Ugwunta said that the State Government is currently building a world class teaching hospital, 2Nos 12 classroom faculty buildings, 2nos 10 classroom Faculty Buildings, 2Nos 8 classroom Faculty Buildings and 2Nos 120 rooms Hostel building at ESUT College of Medicine, Igbo-Eno. Recall that as at the end of year 2020 Enugu State through ENSUBEB has constructed, reconstructed and renovated 339 classroom buildings and toilets, providing 1,595 fully equipped classrooms, provided 33,621 lockers, desks and chairs for pupils and teachers, distribution of 54,545 books and instructional materials to all primary and secondary schools in Enugu State as well as massive construction and reconstruction of classroom buildings, offices and hostels in Secondary Schools across the State.
On the issue of “what the state government is doing to alleviate water scarcity in Enugu state”, Dr. Ugwunta noted that there is an ongoing Solar-powered Water Crash Project located at 9th Mile which is worth about 600million naira and nearing completion. In addition to this, he noted that there is an AFD-funded 3rd National Urban Water Sector Reform Project (3rd NUWSRP) ongoing in the state with a life span of 5-years (2018-2023). The deliverables of the 3rd NUWSRP include rehabilitation of Ajali & Oji River Waterworks, installation of power line, upgrading of water transmission system by installation of a second pipeline (12.8km long and 700mm diameter), replacement of about 240km of asbestos cement pipelines, expansion of the secondary network of 60km, replacement of 16,000 existing connections with new piping and metering and to supply about 40,000 new domestic connections amongst others.
However, Dr. Ugwunta urged the youths to co-create viable, impactful ideas and innovative programmes alongside appropriate MDAs for inclusion in the 2022 budget.
In his address, the South East Lead of the Organization, Dr. Daniel Ugwu, noted that the Connected Development, an NGO with support from ActionAid is saddled with the vision of improving access to information, empowering grassroots communities in Africa and working with the government to ensure that government projects are effective, people-oriented and youth-focused through one of its programme tagged, “Follow the Money”.
Dr. Ugwu commended the Enugu State government for giving youth-focused projects a top priority in the State’s annual budget. He noted that Connected Development, under its Strengthening Youth Focused Public Service Delivery Project, is carrying out this public hearing to engage citizens and government stakeholders to discuss government programmes and enhance youth inclusion in governance for sustainable development. The hearing, now in its third phase, aims to empower young people to influence public expenditure towards gender-responsive public service delivery through budget monitoring and tracking.