The 2020 International Youth day is a unique one especially as the world is engulfed in a pandemic. The theme ‘Youth engagement for global action’ is apt. Youths all over the world now have a chance to engage, connect, share knowledge, build, and take action on global issues.
The pandemic has forced humans globally to move from physical to virtual. Humans have learned how to interact and substitute physical meetings, conferences, and events with their virtual versions. Technology for new connection and engagement is embraced all over the world, this brings a new opportunity for youths all over the world to connect in new ways, engage for global action. The sustainable development goals are tangible action points for youths from all over the world to engage and take global action. Right now, youth in Nigeria can attend meetings with youths from us, Germany, India, or any part of the world and they can work to solve problems. Beyond the global action, as the popular phrase goes ‘think global, act local’ African youths, Nigerians can start engaging for local and global action. Many of the global issues can be solved through local action on issues such as climate change, environmental protection, and the impact is global. Poverty reduction in Nigeria impacts global poverty rates. Helping to curb the pandemic in a village in Nigeria in the overall statistics of coronavirus in the world.
What should Nigerian Youths be doing at this time? Nigerians have youths as the majority of the population; and this can only be a vantage position if we work to harness the youth dividend for the benefits of youths and the overall development of the country. This is the time for youths to embrace knowledge, engage, and take action to solve problems in Nigeria and Africa. It is far easier to engage on a global level; for local impact than ever before. For example youth in Sapele, Delta state can engage in productive meetings and learning sessions with another youth in Maraba, Nasarawa state, or Surulere in Lagos. The hindrances posed by physical meetings have been removed by tech. it is now possible for youths from all the 36 states in Nigeria to meet and plan how to make this country better or make their lives better. And this extends to all over the world. We can go beyond Nigeria to connect with Nigerians in the diaspora, other Africans, and indeed citizens from all over the world to engage for global action.
In YALI Abuja, when the pandemic hit and government placed restrictions on physical meetings; we quickly moved over meetings online. Our first virtual meeting featured a speaker from Lagos Mr Ronald Nzimora who spoke on the digital economy: How to earn a full-time income’. This session attracted over 100 youths from all over Nigeria and beyond and many could not attend because our meeting attendance was set at a maximum of 100 participants. I saw that even though we have enjoyed having some YALI members in diaspora and places of outside Abuja, many of them have not been able to attend meetings since they were physical but the first virtual gave members from all over the world the opportunity to engage and connect with everyone.
Youths have embraced engagement for global action and this can be seen in the success made with the black lives matter movement to end racial justice. We can do much more. An example is an African program organized every Saturday to connect Africans all over the world to engage, connect and learn African history and culture. Many have used this share the best out of Africa. My question to you is what are doing with the digital opportunities you have to connect. Amid a global pandemic, I have seen youths rise to be part of the solution. We have seen the pandemic volunteers help be sharing palliatives in poor communities and to the vulnerable in society, YALI Abuja partnership with rise volunteers to reach the needy and to mark this year’s Nelson Mandela day of service we partnered with organizations like JCI Abuja Unity, ServeLead Global, FarmChique, Elite West Africa to help renovate an orphanage home and school that serves the orphans and vulnerable children and in Aso pada, Nassarawa state, Nigeria.
Beyond, all these I believe Nigeria youths have a huge role to play for the development of Nigeria and the development of Africa. What can we do? Youths need to prepare for the leadership and participate in politics. This country needs better leadership and I strongly believe the youths will do better. The African continental free Trade agreement will require the active participation of youths for a successful implementation. Beyond digital connections and engagement, I encourage youths to travel across to see how we can work together to make our country and world better.
I believe the first step to getting better is knowledge, if youths know better, they can do better. This book ‘The Nigeria we want: Unleashing the potential of youths for Nigeria’s development’. It a collection of some of the most insightful thoughts by youths Nigerians to open the mind of youths to personal development, entrepreneurship, Politics, and national development. As a country, we have missed many opportunities to make this country great in the past, I do believe this youthful generation brings new hope for the future of Nigeria. The past is gone, the future in the hands of the youths. What kind of Nigeria do we want? Let’s build the Nigeria we want…together
There is so much we can do when we work together. One person can make a difference, together we can make a change.
Enite Young Odebala
Coordinator, Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Abuja