We are living in a world faced with huge social challenges.
In a world of about 7.6 billion people and an interconnected generation of which 1.8 billion are youth aged 10 to 24, 90 percent live in developing countries and growth rapidly increases by the day. About half of this young population still face trying situations and live below two dollars a day! Adolescent motherhood, child abuse, violence, discrimination and neglect become the order of the day. More than 100 million adolescents do not attend school. One in ten girls misses school due to lack of menstrual kit.
This is A Call to Action.
Imagine a world where this population are creating social change and making a difference. These untapped resources especially in the political sector is causing a leak that if not fixed can cause damage in the long run.
Why are Youth less included in the political affairs of Nigeria? Why are the roles and interest of the Youth relegated? Why are there little structures for Youth inclusion in all affairs of the government and decision making platforms? Why are the Youth As the giant of Africa and occupying the seat of the world’s largest youth population with about, Nigerian Youth are hardly seen in strategic political positions
Youth have historically been notable change agents and drivers of societal transformation, with our then leaders, the Enahoros, Maitama Sules, starting early and taking the baton of leadership to create a path for success and livelihood. There is a gap of young persons occupying political positions in Nigeria than any country in the world. Lack of adequate platforms for mentorship, engagement, dialogue and solidarity especially at the grass root levels are found. Instead, these young people are used for social conflicts and violence. Why does this happen? A paradigm shift needs to occur in our system of governance, equip them with the right resources they need to succeed and not feeding them with the wrong vices.
According to UNESCO, the goals of youth empowerment, are to nurture in the youth values of
- Positive sense of self
- Decision making skills
- Pro-social consecutiveness
- Self control
- Moral system of belief
This is a call for everyone, to provide critical support to create better opportunities for young people in Nigeria so they can utilise their potentials and skills in employment, eradicating poverty, creating social impact and more importantly in governance, global competitiveness and in all facets of life. This seems out of reach and ineffective but nevertheless attainable!
Young people deserve not just one seat but seats at the table because whatever decision made affects them too.
To the youth, there needs to be a change of perception; less violence and more engagement and peaceful activism full of purpose, hope and intergrity. The young people in Nigeria must make a decision to get involved, no matter how little, collaborate with Youth Organizations, join effective forces to organize and not disrupt! Youth should lead Youth-Agendas and ensure their concerns are addressed.
As a youth Organization, we join hands with some Civil Society Organizations and NGOs like CiScope, Oxfam, Cislac, YMCA, FiF, WANEP, Cowan, Nawia, Heda, Nants, Mibsfanet, NCF, ASSAPIN to lend our voices for food security through our YFarm Project which aims at promoting a youth-led agribusiness society, reducing poverty and increasing active youth inclusion in the Agric. sector decision making process and youth participation in sustainable Agriculture by 2020.
During the 5th Convocation Lecture at Nile University, University Village, Abuja Professor Attahiru M. Jega, OFR gave recommendations on the predicament of the Nigerian Youth as follows:
- Nigeria needs to adopt a “positive youth development approach”, which recognizes youth as active participants in societal development, and not merely as passive recipients of doled out goods and services.
- Accordingly, the National Youth Policy should be urgently reviewed, enhanced and imbued with serious programs targeted at satisfying the needs and aspirations of the youth, with their active participation.
- Youth employment and empowerment programs and projects need to be reviewed/replaced for greater effectiveness in meeting objective goals.
- Effort should be targeted at the systematic removal of all barriers to effective youth participation in the Nigerian political economy.
YIAGA AFRICA a youth-based non-governmental organization that promotes democratic governance, human rights and youth political participation initiated an age reduction bill (NotTooYounToRun) calling for constitutional reforms and youth mainstreaming in politics and governance. Recently, YIAGA AFRICA with other Youth Organization led a walk to aso rock in pressurizing Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari to assent the bill which has been passed by the National Assembly in other for it to become a law.
We need to solve these pressing issues by tapping into the potentials of youth movements and power for this can disrupt inertia and create the social change we seek. We need to ask ourselves: how can we — Governments, the private sector, CSOs, NGOs, academia — empower youth to drive social progress in the developing world through new and innovative projects, bringing them on board the political sector instead of using their strengths for selfish means, violence and conflicts. Young people cannot afford to be apolitical, apathetic and indifference towards the happenings in governance and the economy. Effective sustainable structures need to be established and maintained to mobilize and enhance youth engagement in political and policy making processes.
It is time for credible youth leaders to arise and join hands to pilot such platforms.
It is time to start mentoring young people, beginning from the local government levels, in political affairs, to taking roles in strategic areas in other to bridge the gap between the aged and the adolescents in Nigeria.