By DAPO OLAWUNI
Youths resident in Apapa under the aegis of United Apapa Youths Forum (UAYF) have alleged being marginalised and neglected by seaport terminal ooperators,shipping companies as well as government agencies operating within Apapa Apapa port city, Lagos.
The youths have threatened to disrupt port activities and shut down terminal operators and shipping companies if their demands are not met.
Grand patron of the UAYF His Royal Highness, Victor Nangibo on Monday led the youths to distribute hand sanitizers and nose masks to residents of Apapa including traders, as well as palliatives to widows, health workers among others.
He lamented that throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, the youths of Apapa were never remembered by the host communities in Apapa, and that prior to COVID-19, the terminal operators, shipping companies and government agencies have not deem it fit to carry out Corporate Social Responsibility for the youths.
Chief Nangibo specifically accused the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Nigerian Shippers Council, terminal operators, and shipping companies of compromising the CSR that supposed to be for the youths who do not have jobs.
He said alleged that companies are cutting corners with the local government Chairman, Mr Elijah.
Speaking, he said “We regret their attitude towards us, this kind of attitude would not be tolerated in other port communities, but as peace loving youths of Apapa, we are advising them to change their ways”
“The forum have written series of letters to the companies and we copied the local government chairman, he has never called our attention or acknowledged our letters, this means he is compromising our requests from the companies”
“When you go to NPA, they would tell you that they are doing something for the youths but we are not seeing it. We are now seeing a foul play somewhere, the local government Chairman cannot play the role of the youth, hence these companies must desist from dealing with him”
“We want to implore the Federal Government to investigate where all the employment chances are going, in every organised society, there is employment for the youths, why would APMT, Flour Mills and hundreds of other companies be here and Apapa youths are not employed, is this not a shame even to the governor of the state”
“Since 2013 when UAYF was fully registered and recommended by the local government, the companies are not answering us, we have graduates with adequate qualifications but the companies are not bringing up employment quotas”
“At Onne Port, the NPA NPA port Manager gave out palliatives to the youths and the communities, and gave them money, but here the Apapa port Manager Mrs Olotu wrote us a letter that NPA was working with only 30% of its workforce and there is no provision for COVID-19, is the NPA different?
“After this our approach to speak out, and they still fail to invite us, the situation would become uncomfortable for both the investors and the government, if there is no comfortable environment to work, if we the youths disrupt operations at the port, we know how much the companies would lose”
“The companies should remember the kind of money that they would spend if we come up with a protest, we are appealing now for them to deal with us as youths in our own department and deal with any other person separately” he said
President of the Apapa United Youths Forum, Comrade Abdullahi Sulaiman told journalists that the forum was registered by Corporate Affairs Commission in 2013 to foster peace and unity among the youths in Apapa.
He said the forum decided to sensitize the youths on how to stay healthy, and to distrubute hand sanitizers to them and nose masks, in order to prevent the further spread of the Coronavirus.
According to him, the youths of Apapa have resulted to self help, since the authorities have abandoned them to their fate.
He stressed that the youths had written series of familiarization letters to the companies on the issue of COVID-19, and that they also wrote to NIMASA, Shippers Council, Flour Mills but got no response and no support.
“Individuals that meant well for the community donated towards this course, especiallyour grand patron, Chief Nangibo. With time, we would share other palliatives because an hungry man is an angry man, most of our youths for some time now have been at home”
“The local government have not done anything for the youths during the lockdown period, they might be giving to their political allies but the youths have not benefitted”
After we finish sharing our Sanitizsers and nose masks, we might go to his office and also give him his own palliative since he has refused to give to us.
In terms of COVID-19, he has not done well”
“The last time we went to Maersk Line, they told us that they have done something for the Local Government Council, but the major body coordinating the youths are not carried along”
In solidarity with the youths, a traditional ruler and Baale of Apapa, Chief Hakeem Oluwanishola who witnessed the occasion expressed happiness towards the steps taken by the youth to distribute palliatives, hand Sanitizsers and nose masks to the Apapa community .
He said “I am happy with what they youths are doing, it is a sign of encouragement for the community despite their unemployment and in the face of COVID-19”
“The neglect of the youths is a big problem in Apapa at the moment and I have been speaking with the stakeholders, the companies on the need for the youths to benefit from them, if not they would react. The neglect had been going on even before COVID-19”
“Corporation is key if we must get to the root of the matter” he said