Young people are most valuable assets of every country and therefore their role in all spheres of development are inevitable. The youth of Ghana constitute a bulk of the country?s population so it is necessary they are groomed properly to take up challenges and contribute meaningfully to the development aspirations of Ghana. It is on this background that the former duty bearers of this country deemed it necessary to establish the National Youth Authority (NYA) formally National Youth Council (NYC) .The Authority which was established to serve as the umbrella institution of the state responsible for youth development was as a results of the promulgation of (NRCD) 241 of 1974. As stated in my earlier feature article on the task of the National Youth Authority, it is the view of many Ghanaians that the Authority has failed the teeming youth of this country. Among those who hold this view are former National Coordinator of the Authority Dr. Sekou Nkrumah and Ezekiel Chibeze, Chairman of the coalition of youth development organistions in Ghana (COYDOG). Dr Sekou Nkrumah was quoted by a section of the media recently as saying the NYA is a useless entity and so called on the current Coordinator of the Authority, Hon Ras Mubarak to tell the government to scrap it off.
In a rejoinder published on several websites to Dr. Sekou Nkrumah?s assertion, Chibeze who is a popular youth activist in the country was quoted as saying Sekou was on point. He also argued that any institution which fails to perform its mandate can be classified as such. Now what is the core mandate of the authority and on what basis are we all seeing it as a failure?
At a stakeholders forum in Takoradi in July, 2012 the Director of programmes of the NYA, Mr. Stephen Mensah-Etsibah said ” the vision of the authority is to become a unique public sector youth development service organization, responsive to the empowerment needs of the Ghanaian youth and ensuring their access to national development investment opportunities. We exist to provide the relevant and conducive environment that defines and supports the implementation of effective frontline youth empowerment practices, focusing on young people’s participation in socio-economic and political development whilst facilitating private and third sector provider investments in youth empowerment?
Can we all then agree with Dr. Sekou and Chibeze that the National Youth Authority failed us?
However I wouldn?t want to attribute the failure of the Authority entirely to its leadership.
Who is to be blamed then?
It is an open secret that past and present governments have not given the Authority the needed resources and support to carry out its mandate. This is evidenced in budget allocation and its visibility in all districts. How much will it cost us to open operational offices in all districts in Ghana? I am aware that the Authority doesn?t exist in most districts. As a matter of fact some people don?t even know what the authority is all about. If our politicians claim that they are passionate about youth development but cant allocate a small space for us in the districts, then they are taken us for granted. Interestly programmes which were supposed to be directly handed over to the authority are being operated separately from different offices. Most of these programmes were not having parliamentary approvals but had offices in every district.
Have we ever asked ourselves why we have separate institutions all in the name creating jobs for the youth yet still we don?t see an end to joblessness in Ghana?
Are we really serious about the youth business in Ghana? I don?t think so at all!!!!
The government must push all the piece meal strategies of creating employment in the country into the running of the Authority. This is because these programmes receive a lot of funding from central government than the Authority.
The Youth Leadership training institutes in the ten regions of the country should be well equipped since they have the capacity of training employable youths. The NYA has eleven Youth leadership and Skills development institutions across the country so why do we create an ICT and other equally important youth employment modules and still advertise for other organizations to come for the contract? If we really want the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneur Development Agency (GYEEDA), Local Enterprises and skills Development Programme( LESDEP), Youth Enterprises and Skills Development Programme (YESDEP), Graduate Business Support Scheme (GEBSS) among others to work again then we must hand them over to the Authority and stop the duplications.
I want to challenge our duty bearers to give opportunities to the leadership institutions to equip them. As a camper at Asankare Youth leadership and Training Institute in August 2011, I was shocked to see the marvelous work the students in the school are doing. My two weeks stay in Asankare taught me a lot. The students actually put up most of the structures in their school with assistance from the teacher of the school. Why don?t we support the students to assist the government to put up the 200 community schools?
Finally, the ten million Ghana Cedis youth entrepreneurship fund recently set up by the President to promote entrepreneurship should also be managed by the Authority. It is only through this means that the Authority can become functional and active as we all want.
ALI TANTI ROBERT
YOUTH MEDIA GROUP
The writer is also the Executive Director of Youth Alliance for Development (YAD), a youth focused NGO with its head office in Obuasi.