The Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Kwesi Yankah, has taken a swipe at foot-soldiers of political parties who indulge in violent conducts including the seizure of public toilets, advising them to rather channel their energies into productive ventures.
“If the raw energy and power of the youth should be unleashed, let these be let loose in the destruction not of property, but of poverty in Africa. Let the youthful exuberance be galvanized not to seize toilets, but to seize the canker of illiteracy in society. Let them seize it by the horn and kill it. And for once they will not be charged for murder.”
Prof. Yankah made the statement when he spoke at the formal opening of the 62nd annual New Year School and Conference at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana, Legon-Accra yesterday.
This year’s weeklong event is themed ‘Harnessing The Power Of The Youth For Accelerated Development.’
The actions of party foot-soldiers, particularly those belonging to the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), continue to pose a major threat to the country’s multi party democracy.
On several occasions, these foot-soldiers have embarked on violent confiscation of perceived national assets, locking out of public officials, issuing ultimatum to policy-makers and chasing Ministers of Sate from offices, without any attempt by the authorities to bring them to book.
According to Professor Yankah, developing appropriate legislations and policy framework that would harness the potential of the youth for national development should be vigorously pursued to bring hope to them and inspire them, rather than giving them a sense of hopelessness that drove them into all sorts of crime and lawlessness.
“Let the youth forcibly bring down the walls of ignorance and superstition that perilously hangs on us; and with clubs and sticks, let the youth chase away not public officials, but the scourge of disease and infant mortality that set us several years behind this millennium,” he said.
He noted that the youth had been effective catalysts for social change when well mentored, saying, “They should be considered a crucial human resource base, awaiting opportunities for capacity building for national development.”
He also advised youthful public officials to be mindful of their utterances: “I also regrettably refer to misguided utterances, and verbal indiscretions committed by youthful publics of late.”
Professor Justice S.K. Date-Bah, a Supreme Court judge and Chairman of the University Council, said the implications of the usefulness of the youth needed to be assessed and analyzed properly, adding, “Youth are a powerful and vibrant resource for national development.”
He said all countries were designing policies that would enable the youth to play important roles in the development programmes and said Ghana could not be left out in that effort.
Akua Sena Dansua, out-going Minister of Youth and Sports, reiterated the government’s commitment to harness the potential of the youth for national development.
She said the ministry was collaborating with all the stakeholders to resolve the challenges confronting the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) so that it could become sustainable.
In his keynote address on the theme, Benjamin T. Dabrah, Managing Director of Barclays Bank Limited, said his research into the roles of the youth in political and economic development showed that the contribution of the youth was limited.
“I found a few celebrated youth in our political and economic development and this is because we have overlooked their contributions. We should find a way of recognizing the contribution of the youth to serve as motivation for others.”
Professor Yaw Oheneba-Sakyi, Director of Institute of Continuing and Distance Education (ICDE), said concerns of the youth continued to pose a headache for policymakers and it was time to design effective measures to address problems currently facing the youth.
He bemoaned the falling standards in education despite the increase of educational infrastructure and access to education but was hopeful that with the effective harmonization and implementation of policies, the youth would have hope for the future.
By William Yaw Owusu