Good times are here again for the youths of Rivers State as the state government is poised to employ 5,000 youths into the civil service. This good news was announced by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in a state wide broadcast to Rivers People on Wednesday, October 28, 2020.
The governor said: “I have, by the decision of the State Executive Council today, directed the Rivers State Civil Service Commission to take immediate steps to employ 5,000 youths into teaching and other career positions in the state’s civil service as an immediate measure to reduce the level of youth unemployment.”
Governor Wike, who noted that the country’s worsening economic situation has wreaked untold hardship, frustration and hopelessness on the unemployed youth population, however, assured them of his administration’s commitment to intensify efforts urgently to improve the state’s economy, create jobs and economic opportunities and, ultimately, improve the living conditions and wellbeing of Rivers people, especially youths.
“In addition, we shall also continue to support our youth to acquire relevant skills or take up opportunities in small and medium-scale enterprises to become self-employed and employers of labour,” he stated.
Recalling the recent #EndSARS protests across the country, which, unfortunately, turned ugly in some states, Governor Wike hailed Rivers youths for their display of great maturity, orderliness in procession, resistance to overtures from anti-progressive enemies of the state and an unshakable determination and resolve to make their voices heard without violence, destruction and casualties: “I wish to appreciate our youths and thank them for maintaining their cool and not yielding to the temptation to join the fray of violence and destruction that enveloped parts of our country.”
The governor’s state broadcast was a re-affirmation of the approval given by the State Executive Council during its meeting on Wednesday, October 28, 2020, presided over by Governor Wike, which had earlier been announced by the Commissioner for Employment Generation and Empowerment, Mr. Sylvanus Nwankwo, in a press conference.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, Mr. Nwankwo shed more light on the modalities of the employment, stating in particular that the youths must not be more than 35 years in order to be eligible for employment and adding that there are already existing vacancies in the civil service needing teachers, engineers, lawyers, medical doctors, technicians and other professions that these youths will fill once they meet the eligibility criteria.
There is no doubt that a vast majority of Nigerians, especially the teeming youth population, have already concluded that 2020 is a year to forget in a hurry. The hopes and great expectations, which the new year promised, were systematically dashed and eroded as the weeks and months were overtaken and swallowed in the darkness and uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak, a global pandemic, which dislocated our normal existence and shut down the economy without any prior warning.
The #EndSARS protests broke out in the land, just when it appeared we were gradually flattening the coronavirus curve, and the destruction and carnage it has left in its wake across the country have definitely added extra burden on rebuilding efforts, which the fragile economy was beginning to muster in the COVID-19 new normal.
It is against this bleak landscape that the Rivers State Government is providing 5,000 jobs in the state’s Civil Service for Rivers youths. This is indeed quite impressive and commendable because to employ 5,000 youths in a time of pandemic, like the COVID-19 we are still grappling with, is a clear sign that the Governor Wike administration is one that has the interest and welfare of Rivers youth at heart.
This is even more heart-warming, especially in the present reality that, while many states are still struggling to pay the new minimum wage and some are even downsizing their workforce to meet up with workers’ emolouments, the Rivers State Government and organised labour reached a mutually satisfactory agreement, which was collectively accepted and endorsed by happy Rivers workers, who have already started enjoying the consequential adjustments.
Of course, more joy and happiness is coming the way of Rivers workers and residents from next week, as civil servants on grade level 1 to 10, who have been at home because of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, are to resume work on Monday, November 2, 2020. Similarly, bars that have been closed down since COVID-19 lockdown are to open too, but nightclubs will remain closed for now, for recent obvious reasons.
Back to the exciting news of the 5,000 jobs. The greater significance of this action is that the youths, which the state government is going to employ, are going to be employed for life, as the beauty of these jobs is that they will be in specific ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), operating with extant laws, where entry level qualifications and the age eligibility status are clearly spelt out.
It is a known fact that successive administrations in the state have come under heavy criticism for offering only the ad hoc, manifestly thuggish and highly oppressive and intimidating “task force” employment to youths over the years, but these 5,000 jobs are for youths with certified qualifications in the specific fields of professional expertise, which the ministries represent.
Governor Wike has also pledged that the administration will continue to support Rivers youth to acquire relevant skills and provide entrepreneural platforms for opportunities in small and medium-scale enterprises and it is quite instructive that, for arguably the first time in the history of Rivers State, the government heard the cries of the people and those ‘task forces’, which had harassed and literally turned the lives of ordinary Rivers men and women eking out a living for themselves and families, into a living hell, have all been dissolved and disbanded.
Governor Wike has also pledged to train the next set of Rivers youths who will subsequently be engaged into the reconstituted task forces, which will be more orderly, regulated, civil and humane in the discharge of their responsibilities to Rivers people.
The decision to employ 5,000 Rivers youths into the state’s civil service is even more awesome when one realizes that this is coming at the same time when the legacy flyovers, the link roads and bridges across the communities as well as other outstanding infrastructural projects are nearing completion and commissioning. In fact, the Rebisi Flyover is scheduled to be inauguration on November 7, 2020, by the Minister of Works, Babatude Raji Fashola.
In addition, the Real Madrid Academy has already commenced with job advertisements for the massive recruitment of suitably qualified teaching and non-teaching personnel in all the regular subjects, as well as nurses, gardeners, security and messengers.
The $12 million Rivers State Cassava Processing Company is already primed to create not less than 3,000 jobs, with hundreds of micro and small businesses sprouting on the sidelines and with the concessioning of the already listed Rivers State farms and other state-owned assets set to swing into full gear; with the flattenning of the COVID-19 curve and the gradual reopening up of the economic space, it will be jobs galore in Rivers State, going forward. Governor Wike is a promise-keeper and he is keeping his promise to Rivers people.
All these have been conceptualized and achieved because, despite the notable distractions, the subversive obstacles and the deliberate attempts to sabotage and strangulate some critical revenue generating sources for the state, Governor Wike has continued to deliver a master class of firm, committed, pragmatic and courageous leadership in the last five years. He has made the welfare and interest of Rivers State and especially Rivers youths the number one priority of his administration, and Rivers people know and love him for that.
“Mr. Projects”, the people’s Governor is not only working round the clock to deliver on his promises to Rivers people, the new slogan in town now is that “Wike is working and winning in Rivers State and beyond.”
Ambassador Ihunwo Chijioke, the chairman of National Youth Council of Nigeria, Rivers State and South-South zone, summed it up with these words: “Rivers youths will now have a sense of inclusiveness in Governor Wike’s administration as he has demonstrated and reaffirmed that he is a youth-friendly governor.
“I never doubted the governor when he said, during his campaign, that the youths will be his priority in this administration.
“I commend the governor for his commitment and focus towards the affairs of Rivers State youths, while attending to the needs of other sectors. Rather than play politics with youth issues, or pay lip service to our plight, he came out openly to attend to us.”
“Our youths should continue to support Governor Wike by embracing peace and be law-abiding. Development can only come in an environment where there is peace,” he added.
•Nsirim is Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State