Nigerian Youths Photo: Education NetExpress

Special Report: Maximising initiatives to engage Nigerian youths for national development

*Young people should take advantage of N75billion Youth Fund, other opportunities, says President Muhammadu Buhari

*Fund expected to serve as a youth bank to fund, support innovative ideas, skills, talents, youth enterprise ─Minister 

* Youth Congress appoints Global Youth Ambassadors to coordinate, ensure Nigerians overseas uphold integrity, national values ─Blessing Akinlosotu, NYC President

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Stakeholders say perhaps there is no better a time than now to consciously invest more in the Nigerian youths, as tomorrow’s leaders, so as to re-direct their creative energies for the overall national growth and development.

And doing this at this momentous time in the nation’s history, many believe, is essential especially in view of the recent negative impacts of the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on several world’s economies including Nigeria’s.

As the world marks the International Youth Day (IYD), “the youths in Nigeria by all indications are at a crossroads over the precarious situation the country has been dragged into.

“While the world economy is being shaped by youths across the world, their Nigerian counterparts are trapped in dilemma of choice between good and bad, virtues and vices,” Mr. Muftau Gbadegesin said in a recent piece in The Nation.

IYD, endorsed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1999, offers an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement worldwide.

Mr. Sunday Dare, Honourable Minister for Youth and Sports Development

On this year’s occasion of the Day with the theme, “Youth Engagement for Global Action”, President Muhammadu Buhari via his verified Twitter handle, however, urged the country’s young population to continue to activate their sparkling innovative abilities for the inclusive development of the Nigerian economy.

ConsumerConnect reports that President Buhari specifically referenced the recently established N75billion Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (NYIF), which he described as part the administration’s commitment to creating opportunities for the youths.

“I urge all our young people to take advantage of these opportunities,” he stated.

Likewise, Mr. Sunday Dare, Honourable Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Tuesday, August 11, 2020, inaugurated the Ministerial Technical Committee on the establishment of NYIF.

According to the Minister, members of the Committee include Mr. Gabriel Aduda, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry as Chairman; Mrs. Yewande Sidiku, Director-General, Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC); and Mr. Yusuf Yila, Director, Development Finance of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Others are Mr. Femi Adeagbo, Adviser on Innovation Development to the Minister; and Mr Ismaeel Ahmeed, a Presidential aide on Social Investment, among others.

He stated that the overall objective of this endeavour is geared towards turning the majority of the youths into entrepreneurs and wealth creators.

Dare said that the new Committee would facilitate the effective operationalisation and implementation of the N75billion youth fund, which the Federal Executive Council (FEC) July 22.

The Minister disclosed that President had approved the establishment of NYIF to the tune of N75 billion, for three years, and it is dedicated to investing in the development of the youth enterprise in the country.

He said: “This is aimed at turning the youth into entrepreneurs, wealth creators and employers of labour.

“This approval underscores the absolute confidence this administration has in the innovation skills, talents and industry of the Nigerian youth.

“The fund is expected to serve as a youth bank that will fund and support innovative ideas, skills, talents and enterprise of the youth through loan credit pathways.”

He stressed that membership of the Ministerial Technical Committee was drawn from relevant government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), with the requisite knowledge of their mandate.

The NYIF would fund the youths’ ideas and enterprises directly through financial loans from the government in order to populate the ranks of the youth entrepreneurs in the country.

In respect of the Provisional Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Technical Committee, the Minister also stated that the members are to develop implementation strategies, roll out, develop road map and funding sustenance strategy, and advise on the implementation structure of the programme among others.

NYC appoints Global Youth Ambassadors

As part of its drive to encourage an all-round development of the Nigerian youths worldwide, the Nigerian Youth Congress (NYC), a youth organisation under the supervision of Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, has appointed some Nigerians in the Diaspora as its Global Youth Ambassadors on the occasion of the 2020 International Youth Day.

Comrade Blessing A. Akinlosotu, President of NYC

The President of NYC, Comrade Blessing A. Akinlosotu, who disclosed this in a statement in Abuja, FCT, stressed the need for Nigerian youths in the Diaspora to maintain lifestyles that would glorify the country’s image and uphold the country’s cultural values and dignity.

Some of the recipients of the awards include Mr. Saleh Osude, Youth Global Ambassador, Western Asia; Mr. Bode Majekodunmi, Youth Global Ambassador, UK; and Dr. Raymond Edoh, Youth Global Ambassador, United States (US), among others, says agency report.

Akinlosotu said: “They are appointed to help coordinate and ensure Nigerians in each of the countries uphold the integrity and values of our dear country Nigeria in high esteem.

“It is centred on engagement at the local/community and national levels which will entail the formulation of laws, policies and their implementation.”

He urged them to see the office as an opportunity to do more and work tenaciously to showcase more integrity of the Nigerian youths in their sundry countries.

Dr. Yakubu Shendam, Chairman of the Governing Board of NYC, while confirming the appointments, congratulated the appointees and urged them to be the image of Nigerian youths overseas.

Shendam encouraged the youths at home to be more proactive in their dealings and disassociate self from criminal cats and activities such as Internet fraud, banditry, kidnapping, stealing, armed robbery, political thuggery, rape and related crimes in the society.

“It will also help multilateral institutions and processes as well as draw lessons on how representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced,” said the NYC Governing Board Chairman.

Advocacy for more investments in youth development

Besides the Federal Government’s initiatives on the pressing need to invest more in the Nigerian youths, state governors and other leaders at the sub-national levels Wednesday as well emphasised the need to boost investments in youths and make them central to policy-making and governance in Nigeria.

As a way of reducing unemployment in the country’s economy, the Federal Government has urged youths to embrace Agriculture, report says.

Sen. George Akume, Honourable Minister for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, who stated this at the one-day symposium organised by the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) to mark the day in Abuja, disclosed that the Bank of Agriculture (BoI) is offering different loan schemes at very reasonable rates to encourage youths to go into farming.

Akume said: “Agriculture is capable of creating millions of jobs. I, therefore, urge the Nigerian youths to embrace agriculture for subsistence and commercial purposes.”

Mr. Solomon Adodo, President of NYCN, stressed that the youths are ready to use their potential to bring an end to the problems confronting the country.

Dr. Dakuku Peterside, erstwhile Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in a statement to mark the 2020 IYD also said that the country could not make expected progress without first making required investments to develop the youths.

Peterside, therefore, urged the government to make education their top priority to guarantee a brighter future for the youths, insisting that any nation that desired rapid development must give the youths their pride of place.

“Education must remain a top priority if we are to make meaningful progress,” former NIMASA Director-General said.

In the same vein, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State in commemoration of the IYD has said his administration is poised to support the youths for productive engagement towards having a better future.

ConsumerConnect gathered Governor Oyetola said that his administration would provide the framework for all stakeholders to engage, empower, and equip the youths of the state to realise their potential.

“We are conscious of the fact that our youths are not only our future but also our present hope.

“We first demonstrated this while constituting our cabinet. We have about four cabinet members, who are in their thirties. One of them is the Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Yemi Lawal.

“To further demonstrate our commitment to building our youths and, by implication, building the future of the State of Osun, we have sustained the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) and the Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO),” the governor stated.

According to him, all of these initiatives are aimed at alleviating poverty as well as improving the economy of the state through the involvement of the young population.

Oyetola said: “In order to consolidate our gains so far, we are putting a Policy Document together, which we shall soon present to the public for inputs and adoption.

“The State of Osun Youth Policy Document is a fallout of the country’s National Policy on Youth. In our own policy, we will be talking about the 4Es, namely, Youth Education, Youth Engagement, Youth Empowerment and Youth Entrepreneurship.

“This policy sets out guidelines and provides the framework for all stakeholders to engage, empower and equip the youth of the state to realise their potential and take advantage of the opportunities available to make positive contributions to the wellbeing of their communities across the entire state.

“This Policy will ensure sufficient investment by the state through the provision of resources, skilled labour and facilities.

“We believe that engaging the youth for positive development will ensure a safer society and a better Osun.”

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu also celebrated the Day with a call on youths to key into the vision of a “Greater Lagos” being championed by the administration.

Mr. Segun Dawodu, Honourable Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, while addressing a group of youths, said: “When the youths are engaged at the community, local or state level, they develop the skills needed to be effective leaders and make outstanding impacts.”

That was why the state launched the Lagos Youth Policy which is, centred on youth development as well as the facilitation of the Child Right’s Law, Dawodu said.

Report further says the Commissioner stated that the ministry has inaugurated the fourth legislative assembly of the Lagos State Youth Parliament, among other initiatives.

Meanwhile, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, Arole Oduduwa and Ooni of Ife, has been made the Royal Father of Nigerian Youths.

Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II welcoming Nigerian youths to his palace in Ile-Ife  Photo: CityMirrorNews

As a frontline youth advocate, investor in youth initiatives and programmes in the country, the Ooni of Ife Wednesday was honoured with an award of Royal Father of the Nigerian Youths in recognition and appreciation of his immeasurable commitment towards youth development in Nigeria.

The event took place when the royal father gathered Nigerian youths to celebrate and commemorate the 2020 International Youth Day.

Referring to the low participation of the country’s teeming youths in leadership, Oba Ogunwusi lamented that the youths have misplaced their priorities and must redress the development as a matter of urgent public importance.

“Nigerian youths are fond of accusing and abusing our leaders. Stop abusing them and do your bits. Let’s wear our thinking caps and begin to act like real leaders that we are,” he challenged the youths.

With regard to the youths’ reported overwhelming support for the 2019 Big Brother 9ija reality show, and practical reality of who most Nigerian youths  are, and where their priorities lie, Oba Ogunwusi, who doubles as Co-chairman, National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN) rather offered a suggestion for a reality show that really will project the country’s values.

He urged the leaders of the National Youth Council of Nigeria to work out plans on the show which will be called, “The Big Nigeria Reality Show”.

The Ooni of Ife stated: “The proposed show will be structured in a way that young professionals, talented individuals and others across several field of endeavour will be showcased and helped to reach their peak.

“This would help the participants and also help viewers to have access to people that can be seen as role models.”

Dr. Mariam Abdullahi, Director at the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, representing the Minister, said that the youths have major roles to play in the country’s development.

The Minister said: “The digital literacy and skill acquisition, entrepreneurship, employability and leadership initiative of the Ministry are ongoing, and all geared towards the development of our youths.

“As a government, we will keep ensuring that we equip our youths towards prosperity.”

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