By Kennedy Eberechi.
Meaningful youth engagement, as defined by the 2018 Global Consensus Statement, is an inclusive, intentional, mutually-respectful partnership between young people and adults. Power is shared and respective contributions are valued.
Young people’s ideas, perspectives, skills, and strengths are integrated into the design and delivery of programs, strategies, policies, funding mechanisms – and organizations that affect their lives and their communities, countries, and world.
Yesterday, the world celebrated the 2020 International Youth Day celebration yesterday, centred on the theme; “Youth Engagement for Global Action, which gave an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement.
Against this backdrop, the current holder of the Face of Peace – North Central; Queen Sylvia Buba has re-appraised the role of the youths in nation building, adding that it is not to be going all over those in political offices for the crumbs that fail from the master’s table and then become willing tools for the disterbilzation of Nigeria, but to be catalyst in the political, social and economic development the Nation.
Queen Sylvia who spoke in an exclusive media parley, remarked that the theme of this year’s International Youth Day is apt as it highlighted the importance and value of young people’s contributions and draws lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.
Continuing, Miss Buba observed that meaningful youth engagement ensures that young people are equal and valuable partners (not only beneficiaries) in efforts to improve their health and wellbeing just as she added that it increases the likelihood that policies and programmes will be acceptable, appropriate, and responsive to their needs and preferences.
However, she regretted that though global rhetoric increasingly acknowledges the value of meaningful youth engagement, it often remains more of an aspiration than a reality as there is still considerable resistance to giving young people a place at the table in Nigeria and Africa at large.
“When young people are given opportunities to contribute, it is most often older, urban, educated, and well-connected young people that are selected. Their engagement is often tokenistic and their responsibilities small, for instance leading energizer activities at conferences, taking notes during meetings, or formatting references in reports. Additionally, young people’s contributions are rarely measured effectively to demonstrate their value, and their contributions are often not appropriately acknowledged, either with authorship or compensation.
“This must not be the case. Enabling the engagement of youth in formal political mechanisms does increase the fairness of political processes by reducing democratic deficits, contributes to better and more sustainable policies, and also has symbolic importance that can further contribute to restore trust in public institutions, especially among youth. Moreover, the vast majority of challenges humanity currently faces, such as the COVID-19 outbreak and climate change require concerted global action and the meaningful engagement and participation of young people to be addressed effectively.”, she explained.
Furthermore, while calling on the youths to be more proactive and innovative by using their God-given talents for self-discovery thereby making meaningful contributions to nation building, the Dark-Skinned Beauty Queen urged Government on their part, to create enabling environment for the youths by supporting their innovative ideas and businesses as this will positively engage their minds away from crimes and other social vices.
“The recent approved Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) to the tune of N75 billion by the federal government is a welcome development. This intervention and all others aimed at supporting the youths should be transparently implemented devoid of favouritism”, Queen Buba advised.
Finally, she called on government and other stakeholders to be more proactive in finding lasting solution to the heightening nature of insecurity and violence in Nigeria wherein the nation witnesses, almost on daily basis, perpetration of such crimes as the killing of mainly civilians by bandits, terrorists and other criminal gangs in the Southern and Northern region, a situation many have described as senseless and brazen killings.
*Kennedy Eberechi is a Media and Publicity Expert, He Writes from Abuja, Nigeria. (+2347064715591, firstname.lastname@example.org)