The executive director of Lugard Youth Development and Empowerment Initiative (LYDEI), Okwutepa Aminu Oseni has described the continued lack of sustainable policies for youth development by state actors in Nigeria as a threat to national security.
Okwutepa made this known during a virtual youth conference on May 29 to reflect on sustainable youth development as Nigeria marks twenty one years of uninterrupted democratic governance.
He stated that the lack of political will by state actors to commit to youth development poses a threat to democratic governance in Nigeria and the stability of the nation’s economy.
“Youths can be a creative force, a dynamic source of innovations, and they have undoubtedly, throughout history of Nigeria, participated, contributed, and even catalyzed important changes in political systems, power-sharing dynamics and economic opportunities. However, youth also face poverty, barriers to education, multiple forms of discrimination and limited employment prospects and opportunities.
“Just last week I participated in the one-day stakeholder engagement where ActionAid Nigeria presented a report on public spending in the prevention of violent extremism in Kogi and Nasarawa states. The report showed that the N56,498,907,544 budgetary allocation approved for renovation works in Kogi state government house and the deputy governor’s office accounts for 1.79% of the 2021 capital budget expenditure while capital allocation to youths and women accounts for 1.32%.
“In Nasarawa state, total allocation to youth and women for capital project accounts for 0.58% of the overall capital budget for 2021. Allocation for projects in government house and those meant for office of the deputy governor concerning renovations and purchase of vehicles account for 0.73% of the overall capital allocation in the 2021 budget.
“This is truly disturbing. The higher allocation for renovation and purchase of vehicles of vehicles signals that higher priority is given to project with weak multiplier effect in terms of job creation and social redistribution compared to those that would create jobs and empower young people,” he said.
Okwutepa appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to redirect his policies and focus on implementing sustainable youth development intervention programs that will deal with the root cause of violent extremism.
He called all young people in Nigeria to engage their representatives and participate actively in the ongoing constitutional review process to ensure youth inclusion in democratic process.
In her presentation, the Chief of Party at Palladium International, Ms. Lydia Odeh identified unemployment, poverty, insufficient access to education and training, environmental degradation, displacement, violent conflict and get rich quick syndrome as major challenges faced by young people in Nigeria.
Odeh, who was the guest speaker, noted that despite the obvious challenges, Nigerian youth have made some achievement in the advancement of the nation’s democratic journey.
She stated that there are noticeable increase in awareness and interest among young Nigerians as demonstrated during the successful advocacy of age reduction bill to run for public office and the recent #EndSARS protest.
She urged young Nigerians to actively engage government, civil society and political parties.
Mr Faruk Ibrahim, the Project Manager at YAIGA Africa, in his contribution, said young people should try and engage the ongoing constitution review and change the status quo to create sustainable space in Nigeria constitution.
He charged them to use every opportunity to engage policy makers across the country.
The scheduled zoom meeting had in attendance the Deputy Speaker, Kogi State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Ahmed Mohammed, his Nasarawa State counterpart, Rt Hon Nehemiah Dandaura; head of department, youth and sport development at ECOWAS Commission, civil society organizations representatives of people living with disabilities and media.