Yenagoa—Chairman of the Bayelsa State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Dennis Otiotio, has accused the Douye Diri-led administration of paying lip service to youth development in the state.
In a statement obtained by mangrovepen.ng, Otitio accused the state government of giving priority to politics more than youth development.
He cited figures in the 2022 proposed state budget as proof.
Otiotio averred that a budget gives direction to government, but in the 2022 Appropriation Bill, the state government allocated more funds to the office of the special adviser on political matters than 5 ministries put together, including that of sports and youth development.
He also alleged that the Diri Digital Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Programme, (DDEEP) is nothing but a smokescreen with no real work on ground.
He urged members of the state legislative body to put the interest of the state above parochial interest by properly scrutinizing the 2022 Appropriation Bill before ratifying it.
The statement reads in part:
“Firstly, the PDP-led Douye Diri Administration in Bayelsa does not need to tell Bayelsans if it is truly youth friendly, its plans, policies, programmes and projects should speak for themselves.
“A Budget, whether signed into law or as bill presented to the legislature, is a clear window into understanding the intentions and directions of every government.
“Therefore, the 2022 Budget presented by Sen. Diri to the Bayelsa State House of Assembly on October 20, 2021 has already indicated the true intentions and plans of the government towards all sectors of the Bayelsa economy and polity.
“It is sad that the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development which is the Ministry saddled with catering for the youths and serving their interest was allotted the paltry sum of FIVE HUNDRED MILLION NAIRA (500 Milllion) which is one of the least provided for in next year’s budget.
“So how can the government be considered youth-friendly, when it has not provided adequate funding for the Ministry that is supposed to serve the development of the youths and help them to become independent members of society through sports?
“The Government does not have any real plan for the youths. This is because any plan that is not properly funded will not succeed but is bound to fail. The Government is only paying lip service to youth development in the State
“For the benefit of those who may have missed the said Interview, the Chairman said the 2022 Appropriation Bill tagged ‘Budget of sustainable growth’ is a budget of unsustainable growth as the allotted capital votes to the Ministries of Trade, Industry and Investment is N500m; Communication, Science and Technology is N500m; Transport is N1.5bn; Water is N600m; Culture and Tourism is N500m; Ijaw National Affairs is N1bn, Power is N1.5bn, Budget and Economic Planning is N500m; Lands, Housing and Rural development is N1bn, and Youths and Sports is N500m.
“While the office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters is given an Overhead of 3 Billion. What this means is that the SA Political’s Overhead cost alone is higher than the total capital Budget provision for Five Ministries namely: 1. Trade, Industry and Investment N500m; 2. Communication, Science and Technology N500m; 3. Youths and Sports N500m; 4. Culture and Tourism N500m; and 5. Water Resources N600m.
“Also the claim that the government has launched the Diri Digital Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Programme, (DDEEP) in the state to train youths in the area of information, communication and technology to equip them for the fast-paced and digitalized global economy is another empty farce.
“As even the youths it is aimed at deceiving are wise enough to remember that until this day the Diri Boost which is now been repacked as the so called DDEEP has not seen the light of day and has remained only on paper and social media propaganda of this government.
“It is shameful that after close to 2 years in office all the Diri Administration can boast of in terms of youth empowerment is the launch of the Diri Boost that has not boosted anyone and now the hollow DDEEP. So what is youth-friendly about that?
“What we see here is an attempt by the Diri Administration to use State Funds to induce the youths through the office of the SA Political rather than give the youths sustainable life-changing skills. We condemn any such attempt at desecrating cherished public institutions for short-term political gains.”
A message sent to the Commissioner of Youth and Sports Development, Hon. Daniel Igali by our reporter to get his response to the allegations was not answered as of the time of filing this report.