By Isdore Ndubisi
Mr Joseph Okonkwo, national chairman of Umuoji Youth Development Association, UYDA, has described his ten-year stint in that position as tough and demanding.
Okonkwo stated this, while delivering his stewardship at the Civic Centre of the town at Nkwo, in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State, on the occasion of the association’s election debate to produce the next group of leaders.
He said his time as the chairman was not made any easier by the tasking nature of gathering people together, especially where the nature of the organization had no financial flow.
In his words, ‘When we assumed office, we drafted guidelines of what we were going to do and set up a constitution. We decided to go and register the body and we eventually incorporated it as a community based non-governmental organisation (NGO), and that is what it has been, and has remained a force to reckon with thereafter. We thought of having a modern leadership style away from the norm of just gathering. We grouped ourselves into committees, because we believed that everyone had something to offer to the community.’
The out-gone youth leader who is also the General Manager, Ekwulo, expressed his appreciation towards the financial, infrastructural, encouragement and morale support received from benefactors in the community over the years, noting that they did not relent in their corporate social responsibility to the town, even as he implored the youths to take responsibility in bringing more development to the community.
He recalled that at the inception of his regime, for committees were set up, namely: Health Management, Educational Development, Skills Acquisition/Empowerment, as well as Finance and General Purposes committees.
‘In order to fight health Ignorance, we enlightened the community on health matters and introduced health walk campaigns. We also put pressure on the government to upgrade the health centre in the community and worked with international health organizations.
‘The Educational Development committee introduced scholarship schemes that assisted the poor, and have trained no less than fifteen persons so far, with four candidates currently sponsored in different federal and state universities. We encouraged them to take up courses in Medicine, Engineering, Business, Architecture and others. So far, we organized annual debate sessions among schools during the Youth Day celebration as a way of encouraging young lads to strive for knowledge and academic excellence,’ said the out-gone leader.
Okonkwo also recalled the efforts of his administration at empowering youths through the Skills/Empowerment Committee, which, he said, created avenues where the uneducated received skills, while the Finance/General Purposes Committee facilitated projects and resources. The Infrastructure Development Committee also implemented the association’s road project plan, he disclosed.
‘The UYDA Infrastructure Committee was the brain behind the awarded construction of Nkwo to Abatete Road in Umuoji by the former Governor, Peter Obi. I therefore charge the incoming administration to work with Governor Chukwuma Soludo for the completion of the project,’ Okonkwo charged.
Reacting shortly after the election, Okonkwo adjudged the conduct of the election as smooth, transparent and one of the best in recent times and advised the incoming administration to be focused, open to consultations and to embrace patriotism.
UYDA is an integral part of Umuoji Improvement Union, Nigeria, UIUN, and had earlier been registered with the Anambra State Government’s Ministry of Youth and files her annual return with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as a corporate entity.