Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama has observed that the active engagement of the youth was essential for the attainment of the objectives of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Government would therefore continue to empower the youth by providing them the necessary skills training to make them productive and meaningful contributors to national development.
"When they are equipped with useful vocational skills they will not only become employable, but also, capable of establishing their own businesses and generate jobs for others," Vice President Aliu Mahama said.
He was addressing a regional youth dialogue forum in Bolgatanga, the first ever face-to-face interaction between the youth and representatives of the Regional Co-ordinating Council, as policy makers, on issues pertaining to youth development.
Quoting the adage that two heads are better than one, Vice President Mahama stressed the significance of the forum to national development, as it would enable participants to brainstorm on pertinent national issues and come out with a blueprint that would inform government policy.
He urged participants at the forum to direct their focus on matters such as the plight of the people, education and healthcare delivery, the presence or otherwise of roads and other social amenities in their communities, during their deliberations.
On the forthcoming general election, Vice President Aliu Mahama asked the youth to reject perceptions that sought to suggest the outbreak of violence during the polls. "Ghana has gone through several elections in the past without encountering any violence, so this year's election is also going to be just as peaceful," he emphasized.
Vice President Aliu Mahama urged the youth not to allow themselves to be used by politicians as instruments of violence, and to take it upon themselves to sensitise the people in their communities on the need for peace during and after the polls.
Outlining the objectives of the forum earlier in a welcoming address, Mr. Daud Abang-Gos, Regional Youth Co-ordinator, said it aimed at giving the youth a fair knowledge of government interventions and policies geared towards the eradication of youth poverty, as well as the prospects of wealth-creation.
It was also meant to create synergies between policy-makers and the youth as partners in the implementation of government programmes in the region, and to enable stakeholders to collectively agree on the positive role the youth could play in the national development agenda.
Mr. Abang-Gos urged the youth to support efforts being made by the Electoral Commission towards a violence-free election. "How many key politicians get personally involved in electoral violence such as fighting, killing, and ballot-box snatching?" he queried, adding that the youth should desist from doing politicians' dirty work while the latter held "meetings in the coolest conference halls to share power and increased salaries for themselves."
Participants deliberated extensively on the topic "Challenges and Achievements in the Implementation of the GPRS and the MDGs, and Prospects for Poverty Reduction and Wealth Creation for the Youth," presented by the RCC.