By Hamza Ibrahim.
In continuation of the search for ideas, perspectives and mechanisms of addressing insurgency in the Lake Chad Basin, the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has with support from North East Regional Initiative (NERI) engaged students of tertiary institutions in the insurgency-ravaged North East region in debates to showcase their ideas on resuscitating the region. Before the regional, there have been state level debates in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states where three different tertiary institutions participated. In Yobe, Federal University Gashua, State University Damaturu and Federal Polytechnic Damaturu competed and Federal Polytechnic won. In Borno, Ramat Polytechnic and University of Maiduguri took part and Ramat Polytechnic became winner. In Adamawa, Modibbo Adama University of Technology (MAUTECH) Yola, State University Mubi and Federal Polytechnic Mubi participated and MAUTECH emerged winner. Therefore, MAUTECH representing Adamawa, Ramat Polytechnic, Borno and Federal Polytechnic Damaturu, Yobe earlier secured points to compete at the regional debate that took place today (9th June, 2018) in Yola.
Giving welcome remarks at the beginning of the debate, Executive Director of CITAD, Y.Z. Yaâ€™u said the debate is aimed at harvesting the best ideas from young people in order to place them before decision makers so as to address the problem of insurgency in the Lake Chad Basin. He emphasized the role of young people in bringing positive change in their societies hinting that youthful age is a resource that should be efficiently utilized by the youths, â€œif our young people organized themselves, identified key objectives that they want to achieve, they are capable of achieving the set objectives, the â€œnot too young to runâ€ is a good exampleâ€. Elaborating on youth potentials, Yaâ€™u added, â€œyoung people have energy, we believe they have ideas, and it is in the spirit of leveraging those ideas that we organized the debateâ€. Y.Z. Yaâ€™u further challenged the youths to offer concrete solutions capable of getting the North East region out of insurgency.
Also giving a goodwill message, representative of the North East Regional Initiative (NERI), Ikey Omoigiade observed that large chunk of Nigeriaâ€™s population is made up of youths, therefore carrying them along in decision making process will be a great asset to the country. Giving brief background on NERI, Mr. Omoigiade said â€œNorth East Regional Initiative (NERI) is a four year USAID programme and itâ€™s aim is to fund and support civil society groups, communities, the Nigerian government as well as other stakeholders and to deliver assistance by awarding small grants to local and international partners working in the North Eastâ€.
Also giving a goodwill message, the host for the debate, Vice Chancellor of Modibbo Adama University of Technology Yola, who was represented by his deputy, Prof. Shehu Iya expressed his happiness for being asked to host the debate, he commended organizers of the event by framing it in such a way that it is not â€œfor or againstâ€, but the desire to generate robust ideas towards addressing insurgency in the North East. Prof. Iya noted that in developed countries it is the knowledge that drives the economy, and these are the kinds of issues that are being generated within the walls of universities or the tertiary institutions that are being used to be the fulcrum of development. Prof. Iya added that the debate ideas will surely assist the government in defeating the insurgency.
Four questions were outlined for the team of three participants from the three institutions to choose, and the questions were: a-how will the Presidential Committee on North East Initiatives (PCNI) be more effective in its intervention in the region from the youths point of view?, b-how can youths unemployment be addressed in the North East? Perspectives from youths, c-how would youths contribute in promoting safety and security in schools in North East?, d-in what organizational forms will students of tertiary institutions be more effective in contributing to curbing extremism among youths?
The participating students have brainstormed and proffered different solutions to all the questions raised, panel of judges of made their assessment based on the performance of the students and finally the chair of the panel, Mrs. Dora Alahira announced the result. Modibbo Adama University of Technology (MAUTECH) took first position with 183 points, Ramat Polytechnic second position with 163 points and Federal Polytechnic Damaturu the third position with 162 points. As prize for the first position MAUTECH was given 1 desk top computer, 2 laptops and a 500GB external disc, coming second, Ramat Polytechnic was 1 desk top computer, 3 Techno Ipads and 500GB external hard disc, the third position prize 1 desk top computer, 3 Samsung Ipads and 500GB external hard disc was given to Federal Polytechnic Damaturu. The regional inter-tertiary institutions studentsâ€™ debate was attended by VC MAUTECH, NERI delegation, Adamawa Commissioner of Education, Professors from MAUTECH, lecturers and students from the three schools and other schools, other professionals, media, etc.