Kennedy Tonjo West is the Board of Trustees' Chairman, Rivers State Youth Leaders Assembly. EDITH CHUKU engaged him in an interview during the plenary session of the Assembly where he condemned the neglect of youths and called on Governor Nyesom Wike to reciprocate the support given to him by the youths during the last election among others.
Rivers Youths appear to have gone berserk, getting involved in cult related activities and other vices. What is the way forward?
That is rather an exaggerated assertion. Likening the menace perpetrated in Rivers State to Rivers youths is a misnomer. I will quickly admit; Rivers State youths are not entirely happy with the governor. They are not expecting so much but audience. I recall with pride, during the campaign and electioneering period, notable youth bodies alongside countless youth support groups mobilized massively across the 23 LGAs, printing T-Shirts, fez-caps, engaging buses with their hard earned resources. Our unwavering support for Governor Wike and the PDP led government was tested at the polls and we stood our ground, hence, we expect the governor to reciprocate our love, loyalty and support even as he appoints his cabinets. Already, we are not comfortable that youths are not reflecting in his inauguration list.
So, is it right to assume that Wike used Rivers youths to achieve his second term bid and dumped them?
Honestly speaking, Nigerian youths have never been hungry the way they are now. The Nigerian youths have been abandoned, forgotten and Rivers youths are no exception. But our consolation is that our amiable governor, youth friendly leader is working round the clock to ameliorate the living standard of the people. We also believe that issues of hunger and poverty will be a thing of the past once the governor settles down.
Are the youths suffering any form of deprivation?
Of course, they came out enmasse to vote and ensured their votes count in spite of the oppression, intimidation and killings during the elections. Lives were lost, innocent and unsuspecting youths exercising their franchise were killed at their prime by the Nigeria soldiers for no justifiable reason. The determination and resilience put up by these youths in defending and protecting their vote is legendary, as such, they should be referred to as heroes of democracy. Visitations are supposed to be made to places where these heinous crimes affected, like to the palace of the Amayanabo of Abonnema and the LGA chairman. Thank God election has come and gone; it is time to settle down for governance, the youths are stretching their hands of consolidation and support towards our ebullient governor.
Will Rivers state remain under siege if Wike decides to be adamant?
Rivers state is not in siege, there is serious threat on our security but that is no siege, if not we will not be having this interview. We are calling on our brothers to shun cultism and do something meaningful with their life. The path of violence, cultism, kidnapping, sea piracy leads to nowhere; rather, will cut short their lives. We want the security agents to roll off their sleeves and fish out these misguided youths and exercise the full weight of the law on offenders as the State Assembly had signed the anti-cultism law. This will serve as deterrent to others. We intend to support the mission commenced by the wife of our governor, Justice Eberechi Suzzette Wike to embark on enlightenment and sensitization campaign to douse the indulgence. The Rivers State Youth Leaders Assembly has consciously designed creative windows of opportunities that will empower and employ over 20,000 youths or more before next year. We intend to work with the governor and the State House Assembly of initiate policy framework and reforms to increase internally generated revenue, expand the scope of the creative industry as an alternative revenue earner. We will rebrand and reinvent the image of Rivers State and we are very certain, the governor will aid us in achieving these.