By Ngor Arol Garang
July 27 2011 (JUBA)- Simon Kun Puoc, governor of South Sudan’s Upper Nile State on Wednesday challenged youths to help government efforts in combating poverty and cultivating a culture of peace and reconciliation.
Kun made comments in an interview with Sudan Tribune at Juba International Airport upon his return to Malakal, capital of Upper Nile State.
“The youths of greater Upper Nile region must change their attitude otherwise other parts of the country will develop except us,” he said, stressing the need for the youths to pull their weight together to work.
The leading member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) decried as “sad the fact that even edible fruits in South Sudan[’s] forests such as banana[s] and guava[s] are being imported and sold to people by foreigners.
“Our youths did wonderful thing during liberation struggle. Majority of our youths joined the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement at the time of its inception and contributed until the peace was signed. It was their contribution which brought the peace”, said Governor Kun arguing that youths should now turn the spirit of liberation struggle to development.
The governor urged youths to work hard for their parents, underscoring that this will pay great dividends. He told farmers not to be discouraged by impressions being given that there will be little rain, dismissing it as unfounded. South Sudan’s rainy season begins in April and ends in November.
He commended women for playing a very pivotal role in reducing household poverty, saying that they are active all year round in agriculture, with proceeds from their efforts used to pay their children’s’ school fees.
Governor Puoc noted that despite all their hard work, "women are also the ones in the kitchen; they do the laundry, and even sometimes feed the entire family". He urged the men to emulate them and concluded by reiterating his message to the youths of the region, imploring upon them to rely on themselves for their livelihood rather than begging and other similar things.
The SPLM official is one of the first high ranking officials to join South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir Mayardit in calling on young people to take the lead in addressing hunger. While challenging the youths to embark on food production, he maintained that agricultural production is what will salvage the citizens in terms of food and ensure that poverty is eradicated in the country.
The SPLM official also used the interview as an opportunity to discourage tribalism and the cultivation of mistrust between sisterly tribes in the state. Governor Puoc said he wants to stamp out the tribalism from the area.
He recalled that not long ago the government of Upper Nile State seized a lot of weapons held by those he described not permitted to hold arms in the town, and urged community leaders to join efforts at fighting "the menace". He warned against people bent on inciting unrest, especially at this time when the country needs concerted efforts for development.
The state’s top official finally urged the locals in the area to be vigilant. He heaped praises of achievements on the administration of Salva Kiir, saying he brought numerous infrastructural developments to remote areas.