Download the communique here: YALI Network Summit 2019 – Communique
Background: The Young African Leaders Initiative, YALI, is a signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Former President of the United State of America, Barrack Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth, prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa. Through the various hubs, the United States Department of State provides a common forum for experiential learning, knowledge sharing, professional development, networking, mentorships and making IMPACT: Innovation, Mentorship, Partnership, Consistency, Transparency for growth, youth empowerment and sustainable development in the society.
Introduction: The YALI Network Summit is an annual event designed to catalyse the abilities of Young African Leaders participating from across the 36 States and Federal Capital Territory, FCT of Nigeria (where YALI hubs are instituted) to take up initiatives that will reinforce the role of government in creatively providing the needs of people and ensuring accountability at all levels. Through the well-designed thematic areas such as education, health, trade and investment and security, YALI Nigeria will sustain her relevance within the governance space across regions of the country and network members will replicate their leanings on community impact driven activities and government level support initiatives.
The World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1995. It provided a blueprint for action at the national and international levels and has clear synergies with the ambitious sustainable development goals, SDGs. It called on all Governments to enhance their efforts to achieving an inclusive and participatory system to implement the Programme of Action and urged the world’s young people to “lead and act with courage”.
The 2030 Global Agenda “Paris Agreement’’ for Sustainable Development has one of its universally agreed goals, the SDGs Goal 16: “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”. The goal provides guidance for achieving an inclusive and participatory governance system for all member Nations, including Nigeria. With Nigeria’s ambition under Paris Agreement estimated at $142 billion to meet the 2030 target, developing effective accountable and transparent institutions at all levels, a major indicator of the SDGs Goal 16, therefore, becomes the standpoint for which the YALI Network Summit will flourish as a solution driven advocacy project promoting inclusive governance, ethics and accountability.
As key drivers of change, the youth will play a leading role in implementing the ambitious agenda 2030. As a people centred endeavours, the SDGs will be measured by successes in advancing the well-being of all ensuring that no one is left behind. Therefore, the world’s 1.2 billion young people must be bolstered by robust national policies and innovative solutions to the challenges they face daily. Worldwide, girls and young women continued to face violence and discrimination. In Nigeria here alone the rate of unemployment has risen and there is also the issue of drug abuse which has increased the rate of behavioural and social problems. However, the issues facing youths in the 21st century are far much different from issues of youth in the yester centuries. Much remains to be done to ensure that youth are provided the opportunities and the means necessary to flourish.
Each year, the YALI Network Summit will not only unpack the key issues facing youth in the 21st century in a developing economy’s like Nigeria but also the strategies that can be adopted to address these issues. This will serve as a resolution focused advocacy project encouraging inclusive governance, development and public private partnership in helping youths to tackle these challenges. The main goal of the summit is to proffer solutions to the government from identified issues in the economy. The summit targets the younger population and challenges them to carry out advocacies on pending governance concerns which should be aimed at providing solutions for problems faced by youths thereby a path to sustainable development drive.
- To empower Nigerian youth with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes relevant for communication and advocacy of democratic ideals
- To establish strategies to better connect the YALI network to local and state government leaders.
- To develop actionable tools that will assist young people in evaluating the following:
- The transparency and accountability of their elected leaders
- The promises and platforms of political candidates.
- Enhanced capacity of young aspiring leaders on constructive advocacy.
- Continuous advocacy to be raised by YALI hubs on transparency and accountability
- Step down capacity building per-state on constructive governance evaluation
- Checklists developed for rapid evaluation
- Improved Government awareness and commitment to meet community needs
- New partnerships proposed by government administrators and political leaders to implement solutions proffered by YALI Hubs
- Aspiring Political leaders respond positively to YALI communique and press release.
- Improved awareness and interest of civil society on governance a) Follow on constructive communication/messages on new media for sustained solidarity and advocacies
- Galvanized action and advocacy for transparent leadership a) Gatekeepers at community level form alliances to negotiate with government on due diligence.
DAY 1: The Discourse
Registration of guests commenced at about 09:00am and the program started at 09:35am with the second stanza of the national anthem and a brief introductory speech by the moderator, Ms Kelechi Erondu who thanked everyone for being present at the summit which she said, was well designed around thematic areas such as Education, Gender, Environment, Agriculture, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and Conflict and Security, to catalyse young leaders’ abilities across the states, as well as reinforce their participation in governance and sustainable development. She further defined paradigm shift as ‘a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions’.
Opening Remark by YALI Abuja Coordinator, Dr. Nnaemeka Ezeani
The opening remark was said by the YALI Abuja Coordinator, Dr Nnaemeka Ezeani, who began by welcoming the guests to the second edition of the YALI Network Summit. The Summit he said, is an annual event designed to catalyse the abilities of Young African Leaders participating from across the thirty-six states and the Federal Capital Territory, (where YALI hubs are instituted) to take up initiatives that will reinforce the role of government in creatively providing the needs of the people and ensuring accountability at all levels.
According to him, through the well-designed thematic areas, YALI Nigeria will sustain her relevance within the government centre space across regions of the country and network members will replicate their learning on community impact-driven activities and government level support initiatives. He further stated that there has been an increasing conversation about the youth’s role in policies and the life of the Nation.
He noted that as key drivers of change, the youths play a leading role implementing the ambitious agenda 2030, adding that the world’s 1.2 billion young people must be bolstered by robust national policies and innovative solutions to the challenges they face daily.
He said there is still much to be done to ensure that the youth are provided the opportunities and means to flourish. He further revealed that each year, the YALI Network summit will not only unpack the key issues facing youth in the 21st Century in developing economies like Nigeria but also the strategies that can be adopted to address these issues, thus, the theme for this year’s summit—Paradigm Shift: Youth Inclusion in Government Policies for Sustainable Development, which he added, will serve as a resolution- focused advocacy project, encouraging inclusive governance, development and public private partnership in helping youth to tackle these challenges.
The main goal of the summit he disclosed, is to proffer solutions to the government from identified issues in the economy, adding that the summit targets the younger population and challenges them to carry out advocacies on pending governance concerns which should be aimed at providing solutions for problems faced by the youths, thereby a path to sustainable development drive.
Goodwill Message by Miss. Aisha Bubah (President, YALI RLC Alumni, Nigeria)
In a short goodwill message, Miss Aisha Bubah urged the youth to stand on their decision of not being part of the problems; rather, they should be the ones bringing the solution. She added that the youth as the leaders of tomorrow, should ensure that they live up to expectations.
Welcome Address: Sterling Tilley (Cultural Affairs Officer, Embassy of the United State of America)
In his welcome address, the Cultural Affairs Officer, Embassy of the United State of America, Sterling Tilley, stated that since his arrival in Nigeria he has had the chance to interact with members of the network in Abuja and other states visited, and he has been inspired and impressed by their contributions to the task of building this great country.
Tilley noted that at the summit in 2018, he announced the NaijaVotes Campaign to promote youth participation, peace and accountability during the last elections and by the end of the campaign, which ran for seven months, they had a record 15,000 members pledging to take action to support the campaign, and over 800 submitted reports for activities carried out to promote the campaign in various communities, adding that the campaign also earned YALI Network partnership with the Centre for Democracy & Development to monitor the elections.
According to him, “Also, very inspiring are projects by different members of the YALI community targeted at providing the right mentorship for students and future leaders. I had the pleasure of listening to high school students pitch entrepreneurial solutions to challenges they have identified within their communities. These are not just examples of the wealth of talent available in the network; they are eloquent testaments to value, as they are young people involved in issues of national importance”.
Furthermore, he said that Nigeria is currently in the process of reviewing its youth policy and as a result of some actions, the age range defining the Nigerian youth recently got revised to “between 18 and 30”, noting that this first step action may not seem like it amounts to much in the present, but, it is an indicator of the focus of the government may be going forward.
He, therefore, urged the delegates and participants, to take advantage of the summit to build their personal and collective capacities, and position the YALI Network as a willing partner in progress in the task of nation building. He announced that the US. Embassy is proud of the good work being done and would always explore ways of supporting and amplifying the voice of the YALI Network.
While speaking on the subject of Youth Inclusion in Government Policies for Sustainable Development, he pointed out that it has been widely reported that youth in Africa are isolated and underrepresented in governance across the continent, noting that this is actually true in most parts of the world, but the ratio of under-representation of youth in Africa is extraordinarily high.
In his words, “In general, youth are often not consulted on key decision-making processes. However, in many cases, the younger generation is more knowledgeable and prepared to address the major issues of concern than those within the established leadership. As you know, Africa has the youngest population in the world. But this young majority, which is not being represented in government, is not lobbying governments to address their concerns, and acting as if they are the minority. This fundamental disconnect between policymakers and youth magnifies problems and intensities instability”.
Tilley emphasized that in Nigeria, youth are the most important human capital of the economy but, it is woefully underutilized, stressing that the Nigerian government must wake up to address the brain drain issue that exists and deal with the other concerns that are critical for her future economic prosperity.
He revealed that at this moment there are approximately 200 million people in Nigeria, by 2036, the population is estimated to exceed 300 million and by 2050, the population will exceed double of the current population. That statistic, he said, does not bode well for Nigeria’s future if the economy does not meet the needs of its people.
He tasked the YALI Network to make sure the voice and expectations of the youth are included in policy making, and encouraged Youths to consider these five points:
- Measure your results from the previous year.
- Adjust your planning to achieve your goals for this year, as necessary.
- Communicate, communicate, and communicate. Communicate on strategy, communicate on planning, and communicate on implementation.
- Work with your YALI colleagues in States that are still building and strengthening their network. They need you.
- Establish a role in the governance of your country. The election is over, but your work is not yet done.
Tilley thanked co-sponsors, partners, guest speakers, and volunteers who supported the summit in various capacities.
Keynote Speaker: Professor Nkeonye Otakpor (Retired Lecturer, University of Benin)
Topic: Moralities, Building Initiatives towards Inclusive societies, Tolerance and Peace
Professor Nkeonye Otakpor who led the talk on moralities, building initiatives towards inclusive societies, tolerance and peace, noted that moralities are rules of right and wrong that people believe in, and those rules influence the way people think and behave. He stated that mothers are the greatest morality teachers people have, and they have been there before other teachers take over.
According to him, life is all about making choices weather good or bad, and people cannot live life without making choices, adding however, that there are consequences attached to those choices made, as moral rules are also legal rules.
He encouraged the youths to be honest, as honesty becomes the best policy ever, and to also learn to love and explore their hidden talents in order to harness the energies of love. This he said, will enable us build and rebuild the initiative for inclusiveness.
Professor Otakpor listed the positive talents that the youth must imbibe to include:
- The play spirit: Making jokes, laughter and smiling, sharing good mood with other people, comforting others, and cheering someone up
- Being there for others at no cost to yourself
- Recognizing someone’s loneliness, putting your arms around someone, giving strength, and inspiring others
- Being content
- Forgiving (There is no future without forgiveness according to Desmond Tutu)
- Speaking the truth
- Showing empathy, kindness, compassion and other social lubricants
- Giving succour to the sick
- Respect, Humility, tolerance
- Being brave and courageous enough to be happy
He further listed the negative talents the youth must avoid to include: Hatred, running someone else down, getting on people’s nerves, causing discord, unforgiveness, intolerance, discontent with all there is, bigotry, war mongering, going green with envy, being a real gossip, snorting with anger with or without a cause, constantly searching out the fault of mankind, then being unhappy with or without an action.
He noted that one cannot build the Young African Leaders Initiative with incendiary speech that drives people apart; divisive speech which prevents people from finding comfort in the company of others; abusive, demeaning languages that are unhelpful; and fanning the flames of ethnicity.
He added that clannishness is unhelpful; negative stereotyping dangerous; adding that stoking powerful narratives of us-against-them is the most powerful weapon for exclusion, intolerance and lack of peace. He ended by urging the delegates to pick good even in the face of evil.
Responding to a question on how well positive talents affect sustainable development in Nigeria, he said the talents are not supposed to be imbibed as they are already part of humans. He further noted that in sustaining development, the basic positive part of people needs to be elevated to a higher level.
Keynote Speaker: Honourable (Barr) Sergius Ogun (Esan North-East/Esan South-East Federal Constituency, Edo State)
Topic: Youth Inclusion in Government Policies for Sustainable Development: Emotional Intelligence.
Honorable started by saying that the youth must make conscious efforts to take power as nobody would give them power willingly, adding that power is not given but taken world over. He stated that Politics is not about votes, and most Nigerian youths needs to be engaged positively to bring the best out of them.
He revealed that in his second tenure, the bulk of voters were mostly women and youth, adding that women are very passionate about elections, but men are the ones who sell their votes. He encouraged the youths to act by holding the Nigerian government to action, stressing that the government would not put policies together to help youth get into politics. He stated also that he believes in empowering young people because they are assets to any nation but are unfortunately not recognized, emphasizing however, that the youth are not ready to take actions to secure their future, and so, urged the youth to do more. “Too many of us are on social media achieving nothing, insulting one another. You should go back to the trend, know where the older people are coming from, be ready to serve selflessly and not just keep waiting on government to do everything for you”, he said. He advised the youth to; look for people with similar ideas; be open and willing to learn from them and to serve in whichever community they find themselves. Hon. Ogun added that volunteerism is the shortest route to leadership. “If you think our elderly leaders will one day say we are in our 70s, we are tired of ruling then let us find a young man to come and take over from us, you will probably be 90 years old”, he said. He challenged the young participants to organize more, saying that there is need for young people to be organized and do community works; and urged them to take a step, organize themselves and work collectively for Nigeria’s growth. According to him, “You need to organize more, speak out more, advocate more and even protest and let them know you want to participate, organize yourself but not fighting. Stop fighting!”
While stating that he went into politics to make a change, he charged the youth not to go into politics just to be honorable members as they will not achieve anything with such mindset. He added that corruption is prevalent because people have not checked and questioned why it is happening, noting that the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill was not hindered because the law makers knew the youth were ready, and so urged the youth to take the issues personal so as to get result.
Responding to questions, he said that the youth must disrupt the system and train more people so that they can pave the way for better opportunities.
Panel Session on Youth Inclusion: Full and Effective Participation of Youths in the Life of Society and Decision Making
This panel session was moderated by Kamri Apollo (We FM, Abuja).
The panelists were:
- Dr Otive Igbuzor (Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development)
- Tahir Sheriff (Founder, Whook45)
- Dr Femi Omotuyi (Executive Director, Nigeria Investment Gateway Limited)
- Nathaniel Awuapila (Society for Peace Studies and Practice).
Dr Otive Igbuzor, speaking on the role of the youth in the society and if the Nigerian youth have been prepared to play this part, said that the youths constitute the backbone of the society and the role of the youth is to bring about change in the society. He further stated that the challenge being faced in Nigeria is that the youths have not been prepared especially today. He also said there has been great neglect of the youths in terms of youth development, emotional and spiritual development.
According to him, “To bring about a paradigm shift, the youth must take technology and politics seriously. Also, the Nigerian youth needs a shift of mind-set; they need to undergo a period of self-development”. He added that young people must reject the cliché that they are ‘leaders of tommorrow’ and begin to have the mentality and practice that they are the leaders of today.
Tahir Sheriff, responding to a question on the reading culture of the youth, said that young people are reading and there are statistics out there to support that claim. He further noted that the reason what they are learning does not translate into real time development is not only a governance issue but also cultural. He pointed out that young people are stuck in practices that are not improving their well-being because their choices were dictated by their parents, which unbalances their emotional intelligence/ contributions to society more confidently. “When you grow a generation that is unprepared emotionally and skilfully, no matter what they read, the foundations of their belief are not strong”, he remarked. “We are in an era where changes are inevitable, and we are at the interception of both technology and art. The world is changing, and people are learning, but the methodology of learning is different”.
Dr Femi Omotuyi, while speaking on wealth creation for the Nigerian youths, began by giving a general saying “to change a man is to change the way he thinks”. He further asked if paradigm shift is a rift in Nigeria, and if it is creating or tearing up the polity. He noted also that the question of wealth and what is needed to create wealth comes from the way one thinks. He emphasized that things don’t work most times because there is disconnect, as well as lack of passion/commitment. He said the Nigerian youth is not capable or confident enough to create wealth because there is a vast difference between wealth and riches, stating however, that the youth is focused on riches and not wealth most of the time. He revealed that when people take interest in the way they think, want and how they want things done, then they are already wealthy.
Nathaniel Awuapila, who spoke on how Nigeria can address societal safety, said the youths have been put in a space that is very limited, adding that they have not had the opportunity to develop their positive talents, skills and knowledge base to put it to use in a manner that contributes to the wellbeing of the society, but they have decided to create a subculture. He opined that this subculture also creates trends that work against the best interest of the society. He enthused that, “The wealth of knowledge, the resourcefulness in the Nigerian youth, the capacity to transform the context and the circumstance of their environment which resides in the youth is so huge that you can’t underestimate. More than knowledge, skill and capacity, is the orientation to put all of that to good use”. He further said that there are youths all over Nigeria feeling that they’re not needed, as well as a lot of people who feel that their opinions do not matter and these set of people are creating their spaces and redefining relevance. He also noted that many youths in Nigeria have redefined relevance, relevance that centres not on value addition but on who has more money, because they understand that money speaks. Awuapila also said, that Nigeria has got lots of youths that recognize their resourcefulness, who are redefining value and setting an agenda that addresses their needs and aspirations, without regard to how well that serves the need of the larger society. While stressing that the youth have redefined values and have set agenda that are working against the interest of the society, he warned that until society recognizes this situation and work collaboratively with youths to once again redefine the context of their engagement, there will be a situation where the larger body of the society of youths in the coming years will continue to take the country in the opposite direction.
Questions and Answers
The participants were given the opportunity to ask the panellists some questions and some of the questions include:
- How big a role do you think cultural orientation plays in Nigeria?
- Is it the fault of the youth that they are not in position? (Kano delegate)
- How can we create wealth? (Edo delegate)
In response to the first question, Dr Otive Igbuzor noted that cultural values play a lot of roles in the upbringing of the Nigerian youth, adding that they are meant to be seen and not to be heard. He also stated that youths all over the world have a concept of disruptive development, disruptive advocacy, and disruptive politics but unfortunately the Nigerian youths have not been able to devise such, adding that today, the form is promoted above the content, and the major thing youths need is orientation and self-development.
While giving answer to the second question, Dr Otive Igbuzor stated that it is the fault of the youth that they are not in positions, pointing out that if the elders fail to implement youth development, the youth cannot afford to fail themselves. He called on the youths to first develop themselves, organize and take their place. “How do you change the narrative of a governor running for two terms and the youths voted him. Two things come to play; consciousness and the role of organizing. The Nigerian youth should stop blaming and start playing, the systems were never designed to favour us”, he remarked.
In response to the third question, Dr Femi Omotuyi said passion is the ultimate. Money will follow if passion comes first.
Also contributing, Professor Otakpor noted that if the youths want power, they should go for it because it won’t be given to them on a platter. “If you don’t improve, you decay. The choice is yours”, he said.
Keynote Speaker: Dr Wale Olasoji (President, Total Cooperative)
Topic: Youth Inclusion: Technology in Sustainable Development and The Youths Role
Dr Wale Olasoji talked about examining the role of technology in Sustainable Development and how youths can be involved, noting that some nations are developed because they embraced technology. He pointed out that technology can fuel business growth, citing examples of youths who used technology and are billionaires now, such as Facebook/Snap chat/Twitter founders.
Dr Olasoji stated that in Nigeria, citizens are trained to be employees and not starters, and so, the country is not diversifying her economy nor embracing technology. He, however noted, that anything riding on technology will work, adding that a nation can be whatever it wants to be with technology.
According to him, “Technology is the way to the future. We must ask ourselves where in the technology value chain we need to play. Nigeria needs young people that can challenge the status quo through technology”.
While responding to a question by Benjamin Aren, on if Crypto currency (Bitcoin) is a technology; Dr Olasoji pointed out that crypto currency is technology because it runs on the globe chain technology. He further explained that Bitcoin is one of the global currencies available; and the level of acceptability is what makes a currency valuable; noting however that the problem with Bitcoin is its unacceptability in many places.
Responding to another question on how to influence the pattern of learning in the educational system with technology, he stated that some private sector initiative along that line are coming up with technologies, although he had no idea when it will get into the mainstream education sector in Nigeria.
He however stressed that the youths can act as advocates and speak up; adding that brilliance does not translate to success, as there must be a pattern.
Professor Nkeonye Otakpor noted that there is the human dimension to science as well as the moral side. He said also, that technology is being used to commit suicide in the in some countries, adding that no matter how levelled technology is, one cannot remove the human and moral element from it.
Prof. Muhammad Kabiru Isa stated that technology is not technology if it does not solve a problem, noting that Nigeria is a third world and struggling country, battling with power failure and conflicts as well as cultural challenges, adding that there are ethical and problem-solving dimensions to technology. He further asked about how to combine the two, to use technology to solve Nigerian’s problem. He also said that the youth can use technology to sell themselves to the world and to add value to humanity.
Panel Session on Youth Inclusion: Health, Education and the Girl Child
The panel session was moderated by Kimberly Nwachukwu (Nigerian Info FM, Abuja).
The panelists were:
- Adebukola Shonibare (Founder, Girl Child Africa)
- Chiedozie Nwafor (Abuja Global Shapers/MWF Nigeria)
- Pharm Imoiboho Ekwere Williams (RLC Alumni, YALI Nigeria Chapter)
- Ibrahim Babainna (IBI Foundation)
In response to effects of conflict on education of the girl child and how well Nigeria has managed the situation, Adebukola Shonibare, noted that education suffers a lot especially in conflict zones, noting that certain institutions such as schools, churches and mosques are not supposed to be attacked during conflict situation. Schools have been targeted and this affects education. According to her, “There is larger percentage of people affected mostly in the Internally Displaced Person’s camp. We need to put in place specific policies to address the continuation of education, but in this situation as it relates to the Boko haram conflict; we have not been doing well. “Nigeria has the laws, but no specific policies, NGOs like ours work with state governments and the federal government to set up projects in the IDP Camps and in the conflict affected areas, so that at least, there can be some form of education”.
She further noted that it is good that Nigeria is now a signatory to the Safe School Declaration and is now nationalizing it, to ensure that:
- Schools are safe to a specific standard
- That in conflict situations, schools are not occupied by the military
- That the schools are not targeted, so that education can continue.
Speaking on how to fast track the domestication of the Child Right Act, particularly in the north eastern states, Mrs Shonibare said that the Child right Act is still being restricted by cultural norms, ethics and other things that demoralize especially the girl child. She added that there are ridiculous and annoying reasons why these states refused to pass the law, adding that we cannot have a Paradigm shift in our laws and policies if it does not start from our minds, thoughts, perspectives and orientation. She remarked that there is the need to begin to change the mind-set of those people that are expected to be the custodians of these laws, stating however, that if the people who are supposed to be the pushers of these laws do not believe in it, it won’t go anywhere.
While speaking on the need for women representation in politics, she said that governance cannot be discussed without women representation, stressing that what happened in the 2019 elections, in terms of women representation, is alarming and disgraceful.
The moderator asked the second Panelist, Ibrahim Babainna, if education is a critical part of what he is doing with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Thursdays and what he can do to reduce the number of out of school dropouts. In his response, Mr Babainna noted that the youth have been educating various people in their own capacity, adding that the youth are trying and all they need is safe spaces to operate. According to him, the youth are very passionate about education and if they have the resources, they would do more. He further noted that the government is doing its best, but the youth can also do their best. “There is a narrative changing, we won’t see it now, there is going to be a sizable number of the population that will be educated”, he said. He stated also, that he is passionate about what he does, and desires to create an avenue for the youths to express themselves, adding that the youths talk about goals and do a lot of things to achieve these goals. While responding to the question on some of the ideas the youths are implementing, he listed the ‘Girls Space Ng’ and ‘Educate One Child Initiative’, adding that the effort of educating one child, could make the destructive change we want.
Chiedozie Nwafor, on mental health and triggers of the high suicidal rates, said that banning ‘sniper’- a product which most youth have resorted to, to take their own lives, is not the solution, adding that there is the need to tackle the cause of suicide and not its result. According to him, “if you take ‘sniper’ off the market, have you stopped unemployment, insecurity issues, poverty and some of the social issues leading people into depression and then suicide? It’s not about being able to buy sniper in the market, it’s about government taking responsibilities to fix the social issues and challenges that young people have to deal with every single day”. He further noted that most youth are under pressure to achieve their dreams; adding that being in an environment that stifles dreams lead people to slide into depression. Speaking on the social structure of the country, he said that there is brain drain because the challenges faced by the youth in the country are enough to give one mental health stress. He stated that the government is not doing enough and banning ‘sniper’ is not the solution.
Pharm Imoiboho Ekwere Williams, while speaking on how to address the issue of depression, said that depression is on the rise, as about 17.3 out of every 100,000 deaths is a function of depression (WHO), and Nigeria is ranked 5th in the aspect of depression worldwide now. Williams emphasized that depression is a critical issue that should not just be looked at from just the health point of view, adding that there is no clear cut strategy for stemming the type of depression that is on the rise amongst the young people, both in the National Health Policy as well as the National Youth Policy.
He further said that there is the need:
- To deploy targeted strategies.
- For Government to come up with straight up ideas to address depression, anxiety and substance abuse related mental health issues.
- For the youths to be more engaged in policy making.
- Work on person centred interventions
- Build systems to critically look and find the root cause of depression.
- Get more granular and target interventions towards the root causes.
- Monitor and evaluate the parameters that have been set in place.
- Assess the impact of the interventions.
Questions and Answers
The participants were given the opportunity to ask the panelists some questions and some of the questions include:
- Don’t you think there is need to put measures in place for NGOs to use funds allotted to them and can we look at the root causes discouraging women and youth from going into politics? (Delta state Delegate).
- What are the procedures to follow to target Islamic scholars to understand the importance of education, to stop the Almajiri issue? What can be done to support the Teachers helping several Almajiris.
- How do we bring law enforcement agencies into discussions around mental health issues and suicide? (Jade).
- Is there a way to harmonize Nigeria’s educational curriculum for both private and public schools? How is the reviewed National Youth Policy going to address the problems of the youth? (Abia Delegate).
Responding to the first question, Adebukola Shonibare noted that of the 84 million registered voters for the 2019 elections, 47.14% were actually women, on the ballot were 2,970 women, six women became candidate for the presidential election but all of them withdrew before the election which is compared to 2015 where there was only one woman. For the governorship, she said that 74 women ran but no woman became a governor, 275 women ran for Deputy Governorship position but only four from Enugu, Kaduna, Ogun and Rivers states got elected. She noted that all these statistics shows that there seems to be a conspiracy against women not to be in political positions, adding that the political structure especially in the fourth republic, is in a way that women cannot go beyond a certain level.
She reeled out some of the challenges surrounding women’s participation in politics to include:
- Political structure
- Electoral violence threats
- Rigging and vote buying, and women cannot afford some of these.
On the way forward, she called for:
- Constitution backed quota system that would have the 35 % affirmative action, so that it becomes a law that certain percentage would be constitutionally allotted to women.
- Youths to raise their voices for women.
- Women to join political parties that agree with their value systems, disrupt the system and participate actively
Also responding to some questions, Pharm Williams noted that we cannot optimize the system by sub optimising the subsystems, adding that the foundation is important when building systems. He advised the participants to go back home and come up with strategies, adding that the youth must be part of the process, from the level of policy development, through implementation down to impact assessment. “We need to keep pushing, keep doing our best and the future is bright”, he said.
In his brief contribution, Professor Nkeonye Otakpor revealed that men believe they own the world, forgetting that it is a human world not man’s world, stressing however that the earlier men realise that it is a human world and reorganize everything, the better for all of us.
Responding to questions, Ibrahim Babainna, said that the NotTooYoungToRun bill supported members during the last election and 22 of them were voted into the state houses of assembly, adding that it is the beginning of better days. On the Almajiri issue, he said that it has existed for decades and to differentiate it from the cultural and religious aspects will take time and the Government really needs to discuss with all stakeholders involved, adding that individuals can sensitize and advocate positively in their own little ways. On the National Youth Council of Nigeria, he stressed that they are needed in some of the advocacy. He urged the participants to read more about the National Youth Policy.
Responding to the question on mental health, Chiedozie Nwafor noted that policies are good, but there is more power in advocacy and citizen action, adding that there are so many policy documents in Nigeria, stressing that nothing is going to change about mental health until people who are passionate enough hit the ground running to ensure that things are done.
Nothing is going to change until young people o on the street and speaks to law enforcement agents, legislatures and leaders on thins we want to see change about mental health.
Keynote Speaker: Professor Muhammad Kabir Isa (Lecturer and Deputy Dean, School of Postgraduate, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria)
Topic: Youth Inclusion: Advocating Agribusiness
“By 2050, Nigeria’s population will grow to 400 million and it is estimated that the youth will constitute about 60 percent of the population”.
He asked how many youths are ready to carry the cross of turning the nation around to be better, emphasizing that many revolutions were carried out by the youth seeking to better their society. He noted also, that many people don’t want to sacrifice but want to live very fast, adding that resilience, patience and perseverance is what will take the youth to the next level. According to him, victory cannot be achieved in a day but takes years, and most people who were not born with silver spoon, have worked to where they are today. Professor Isa revealed that of the 1.1 billion people who are projected to be added to Sub-Saharan Africa by 2050, about 20 % will be born in Nigeria, stressing that the youth must get ready to carry the cross now to end crime.
While noting that Nigeria’s population is projected to reach 440 million by 2050, he remarked that there will be a problem of food availability, affordable, accessibility and utilization; and emphasized on the need for increased talks on how to improve food security in Nigeria as the country is challenged by Malnutrition. In the areas of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said that the goals as well as the Civil Society organizations that push these goals are mostly needed in the rural areas and not the urban areas. Prof. Isa who reiterated that Agriculture is the major revenue earner for Nigeria’s economy, called on the youth to work to get the requisite money needed in the right area.
“You must rise up to the challenge, don’t sleep, don’t wait, and don’t retire. Agriculture employs approximately two-third of the total labor force in Nigeria and the real workforce are in the rural areas and are in Agriculture and they contribute only 24 % of the Gross Domestic Product. And this increase is due to rice”, he said. He called on the youth to challenge government to stop focusing on rice alone which is for the urban people but to focus on the whole value chain if they are serious on agriculture, adding that low productivity makes Nigeria a food deficit nation—a country of plenty living on nothing.
According to him, “countries that have moved forward have good leaders as well as people who challenge those leaders. The real start-up is in the Agricultural sector and we need to use our energies positively in the right direction”, he said. “There is the need to create positive narrative about the youth. We need to rethink because as Nigeria is growing, the world is also growing, and food security is becoming an issue”. He opined that there is tremendous potential to turn Nigeria into a food secured country, adding that this can be done if the youth channel their energy and give importance to agriculture. “We can turn Nigeria into a food secured country if we attach importance to Agriculture”.
With the current challenges facing the country especially the insurgency, he said that there is an urgent need to design policies and programs to ensure that the upward trend in human development is sustained, stressing on the need to rise to challenge the elites to empower local farmers money.
He remarked that the Nigeria government characterizes youth as ambitious, enthusiastic, energetic and promising but they are considered vulnerable in the society, adding that the youth need to get government to change the National Youth Policy so that it can to cover all issues bothering on their welfare and also engage government on the National policy for education, gender policy, health policy and otters.
He said that if the youth wants to engage government, they must first disrupt the National Youth Council, make it youth focused in both content and character, as with this organization, the youth can take any government to task. In his words, “We must go and take over the National Youth Council of Nigeria. Government will not allow you take over this structure and our major step to take over our future is through this structure”. He expressed sadness that the youth are the foot soldiers of the big politicians and the volume of the people involved in ballot snatching are uneducated youth who lack opportunities, but the narrative must change.
He charged the youth to:
- Demand for free education
- Move into agribusiness, which is where the wealth is.
- Work towards connecting the farmers to those who need their products.
- Find a connection between what they do and agriculture.
Panel Session on Youth Inclusion: Identifying Opportunities
This panel session was moderated by Kelechi Erondu.
The panelists were:
- Isaac Balami (CEO, 7 Star Gobal Hangar)
- Desmond Utomwen (CEO, Fresh News Online)
- Maryam Atseyinku (CEO Community Waste Recycling)
- Wale Aladejana (CEO Sapphire Scents).
Akinwale Aladejana who is into perfumery and diffusers, while responding to a question from the moderator on the opportunities available to the Nigerian youth in his field and what could be the reasons Nigerians clamour to leave the country, noted that it is a mind-set issue and most Nigerians have the consumer mentality. According to him, “If you are smart enough to become a producer of what people can buy, you can make a lot of money. We need to start looking at things very strategically. We need to start thinking productively about what we can do, rather than what can be done for us. You have to become the solution if you are going to change the narrative”.
The Moderator further asked about how he entered into the perfume business and Wale stated that perfume has always been a gift for him, but he never knew it could be turned into a money-making venture. He also revealed that he had the hidden gift of identifying smells of any perfume and began to channel his gift into the brand that is now recognized worldwide which has also created employment for people.
Desmond Utomwen, (the publisher of Fresh News Online media and the Producer of Agenda 2030 program on the Nigerian Television Authority, based on the Sustainable Development Goals), noted that he believes in peace, justice and strong institutions. Utomwen while responding to a question on how illegal migration affects the SDGs, said that illegal migration is a challenge to the SDGs. He explained that the SDG Goal 1- Reduce Poverty, shows that people tend to move to places where there seems to be better opportunities, adding that ‘escaping’ is not the solution rather, there is the need for the youth to find out the problems and deal with them. He challenged the youths to look for solutions to any problem that exists as there is always a solution to that problem and by so doing, they would solve the problem of poverty, hunger and every other social Goals that are in the SDGs. According to him, “When you can address the issue of poverty which has to do with you looking for solutions, there is always a gap that you need to fill. There is always something you can do to bring change and there are people looking for your services. Turn your problems to opportunities”.
Isaac Balami (who was the immediate past National president for aircraft pilot engineers, founder of the Nigerian Rebirth Foundation and runs the Isaac Balami Foundation which has put over 600 children in school), while responding to a question on the opportunities in Nigeria for the youths, said that the Nigeria Rebirth Foundation has been trying to repackage the country, stressing that there is a need for a holistic and total rebranding of the country. He also pointed out that for about 30 years there has not been any deliberate policy and attempt to invest in the youth whom they say are the leaders of tomorrow, as there is a lot of brain drain. In his words, “This is one continent were when you exhibit character, passion and love for your country, they come after you to question why you are speaking and dreaming big. We need to wake up. “How can you be a president and governor and all you think about is to put money in a Swiss account? Don’t you think that the children you will leave will not have the right environment to live in when you are gone?” he questioned. He stated that the challenge is the level of greed and hatred among people and the lack of love, noting however, that despite all the challenges, there are still opportunities for the youth to make a difference today. Mr Balami charged the youth to look inward, discover their gifts and maximize it, adding that there are no greener pastures out there. He expressed hopes that although things are tough, there are better opportunities in the country. While noting that the youth are less than 1% of the country’s leadership, expressed optimism that the youth will go into politics to make a change. He harped on the need to be selfless, show love to the country, be patriotic and ensure that Nigeria takes her place.
Maryam Atseyinku (an environmental engineer passionate about environmental awareness in Nigeria, which led her into community waste and recycling, especially waste management within communities around the Federal Capital Territory), while responding to a question from the moderator on the opportunities available to the youth in waste recycling, said that there are opportunities for community waste and recycling in waste managements, especially environment in general for the youths, adding that there are opportunities within Nigeria and the Youths do not need to travel outside of Nigeria to succeed.
Ms Atseyinku noted also, that although a lot of people are going into waste collection, most Nigerians still do not know that recycling is happening here in the country. She however said that despite all the Recycling companies in Nigeria, it is still not enough as there are still rooms and a lot more people are needed in the industry from the private sector, as the government alone cannot handle it all. She cautioned the youth against following the trends but to look holistically at the whole system and find out what they are interested in and the value chain, as there is the need to start recycling in Nigeria. “We need people to actually be on the receiving end of all these products we are trying to recycle, be it paper, plastic and organic waste”, she said. “There are a lot of ways to get energy from waste to solve the energy challenges facing the country”.
Question and Answer
After the panel session, participants were given the opportunity to ask questions and some of their questions include:
- How can we proffer sustainable solutions to the issues of SDG Goals 1 (No poverty) and 2 (Zero hunger) in Nigeria? (Plateau delegate)
- What are challenges in engaging in waste management within the communities and how to overcome them? (Kaduna delegate)
- How do you raise fund for business and how do you manoeuvre through government policies?
- How do we integrate local solutions into the educational system to solve Nigeria’s problem?
Responding to the question on the challenges in engaging in waste management within the communities and how to overcome them, Ms Atseyinku said that it is better to start from the community so as to have ripple effects, adding that waste collection is now popular but people are not looking at other opportunities available in recycling. She revealed that she provides events management services for groups, adding that the dumping culture of people has declined. Speaking on the challenges, she said that there is a great need to reorient people’s mindset and thought pattern, which is the major challenge, adding that funding is another challenge as she is self-funded and as not gotten grant from anybody. She spoke about her partnership with YALI Abuja on a collection drive in March 2019 to clean up an area in Abuja and how they were able to move almost 100 kilograms of waste. In conclusion, she reminded the youth that if they try to get into business just for the cash grab, it will be difficult to get a foothold, adding that it is about passion and drive and all other things will fall in place.
On his part, Mr Utomwen while responding to the question on how to proffer sustainable solutions to issues of Goal 1 and 2 in Nigeria, said that the SDGs carries everybody along and gives ways to achieve those Goals which is in Goal 17 (Partnership). He noted there is need for partnership to achieve all the SDGs, adding that the SDGs are designed models which would work for every country. For Nigeria, he said that empowerment should be focused on because SDGs Goal 8 is tied to 1, as without decent jobs and money there is a tendency for poverty to be on the rise as well as lack of food. He stated that the SDG is youth focused and young people must take ownership of the SDGs irrespective of what government as well as the United Nations is doing, and stressed that the young people must take ownership and devise ways to attain all of the Goals, adding that if the youth come up with models that can help solve any of the problems in the Goals they target, they can bring it up. He emphasized that Nigerians are doing so much already but more youth need to come on board with models that can solve domestic problems.
On the question of looking for home grown solutions to the Nigerian problem, Mr Utomwen, said that it is the way to go, as some imported solutions do not work well with the country, adding that we need to align our solutions to the situation on ground, and there is the need for youths to look inwards. In conclusion, he said that the SDG Goal 9 which has to do with innovation, lies with the youth. He encouraged the youth to look into the Private Sectors Advisory Group, approach them in order to get support and to come up with solutions that will disrupt the system.
For his part, Wale Aladejana while responding to the question on how he got funds to start his business the money, said that people need to start their businesses with what they have and where they are as nobody would throw money at them. He said no one gave him money for the first two years of his business, no bank gave him loan. “I only started with N30,000 and a phone and by three years, my business Sapphire Scent is now worth over billions of Naira”, he said. He charged the youths to be very creative with their resources, think enterprise, think creativity and settle that no challenge will hinder them. He also urged them to leverage on the social media.
On the aspect of Government policies, he said that the policies set by the government could discourage one, but the youth have to keep fighting, adding that the government are actually looking for success stories. “For my business, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has been extremely supportive and helpful. If we go beyond the fear of what we see and hear, approach these people, be truthful with them, tell them your challenges and they will be helpful”, he said. In conclusion, he urged the youth to ensure that anyone who ever looks down on their business realize that they made a mistake in the long run, adding that though he was despised, four years down the line, his business is now being appreciated.
Mr Balami on his part, while advising the youth, said that the youth have to learn how to start small, saying that there are jobs out there but the youth have to be realistic and start small, adding that once they are serious, the government will interfere to help them. He further urged them to be passionate and sincere about what they do. He stated that the youth should be humble, serve and learn and with that, people will recommend them for higher assignments. In closing, he said that Nigeria and Africa are suffering too much Lamentation, and urged the youth to solve the problem, do their parts and not wait for government.
Keynote Speaker: Professor Yima Sen (Baze University, Abuja, Nigeria)
Topic: Youth Inclusion: Democracy and the Youth’s Responsibility in Securing It
Professor Sen started by saying that Nigeria needs not just a scientific revolution but a totalistic revolution from the old paradigm to a new one. He also noted that in world history, most changes that have been achieved came from revolutions, adding that some of the revolutions that have changed the world had been like the industrial, technological, cultural and intellectual revolution which did not come through bloodshed.
Professor Sen stated that it is everybody’s responsibility to undertake paradigm shift, if Nigeria is not performing well, adding that the paradigm shift here means that the youth are going to be scientific, intellectual, technological and political. Speaking on how society develops, he said that the private sector, public sector as well as the civil society organization are the three spheres that must be paid attention to. These three spheres, he said, have driven development and must be looked at critically because whatever is done in the private sector, requires an enabling environment from the public sector to thrive, and where the public sector is failing, the civil society organizations step in to challenge the public sector and so, these three spheres are a necessity to drive progress in the society. He added that for Nigeria to make progress positively, all these three sectors must be given appropriate attention.
He defined democracy as ‘people’s power and power to the people’, noting that this power is social, economic and also political, adding that democracy is not just about political processes, but how ordinary people get economic power, social power and then political power. Professor Sen noted that all these areas of power needs to be paid attention to, as democracy is totalistic, emphasizing that if a country has functioning parliaments and political system but the people are poor, lack fundamental human rights such as the freedom of expression and freedom of worship, then there is no democracy. Speaking on Nigeria’s democracy, he stated that the modern system of democracy practiced in Nigeria came from a very bitter experience in Europe which Nigeria inherited through colonialism, adding that there must be a post-colonial narrative which goes beyond lamentation and Nigeria must rise above some of the post-colonial failures. While noting that it was young people who fought for Nigeria’s democracy, he urged the youth to study 10 of the major revolutions of world history to see what they have given to us and also find out if the people who drew the revolution were old or young people, adding that the nationalists who fought for Nigeria’s democracy were not old people but young people. Furthermore, he said that the youth have so much power and the technologies of today have changed the world and that is the real paradigm shift.
He charged the youth to be courageous and fight. “We are talking about democracy and the future of Nigeria and government, we are talking about struggle, our youth must struggle, must fight for development, democracy and justice, Prof. Sen said. “Power is in our hands, we have it here, we have to be courageous young people. Everything in this life, if you go through the history of the world has come through struggles, it has followed a paradigm shift, from a fairly paradigm to a better paradigm and on it continues like that”.
The YALI Abuja Coordinator, Dr Nnaemeka Ezeani, took the closing remarks by 5:28pm. He thanked the speakers as guest as well as the delegates for staying all through the program. He said the programme was interesting and engaging and apologised for closing late. Dr. Ezeani, ended his speech by giving a vote of thanks to the US Embassy, YALI RLC Alumni Nigeria, CBN International Training Institute, National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), American Corner Abuja, LionShare Media & Consults, Civic Innovation Lab, IBI Foundation, Fresh News Production amongst others for their support and partnership.
The YALI Network Summit 2019, with the theme: Paradigm Shift: Youth Inclusion in Government Policies for Sustainable Development, ended at 6:00 pm.
DAY 2: The General Assembly
- The YALI Network Summit 2019 tagged, “Paradigm Shift: Youth Inclusion in Government Policies for Sustainable Development”, had its General Assembly on the 25th of June 2019. It commenced at 10:20 AM with the second stanza of the national anthem which was followed by a welcome address from the President of the General Assembly, Munachi Ejieji, after which the Secretary-General, Gloria Amarachi Brendan-Otuojor, gave a brief of the Summit and also read out the guidelines, procedures of engagement and expected outcomes. The President then gave a brief of what the Assigned State Review (ASR) of each delegate is expected to achieve as well as the expected outcomes of the breakout session.
- He introduced the Vice-Chairperson, Enite Young-Odebala, and the Vice-Chairs (thematic leads): Suleiman Usman Mohammed (Vice Chair, Agriculture), Nnenna Uma (Vice Chair, Education), Silas Adaramola (Vice Chair, Environment), Oluwafunke Adeoye (Vice Chair, Gender), Ammiel Charles (Vice Chair, Information and Communication Technology, ICT), Ameer Lukman Haruna (Vice Chair, Conflict and Security).
- The President then proceeded with a roll call of delegates from the following states who were present; Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, Zamfara and FCT.
- Immediately after the roll call, the President opened the floor for debate and deliberations where each of the delegates presented their Assigned State Review under three minutes while observers and other delegates asked questions and made comments. All 34 delegates representing each states of the federation were able to make their presentations with observers fully engaged in constructive feedback, comments and submission.
- At the end of the opening plenary of the General Assembly, the committee session proceeded with a conversation circle divided into six thematic areas/working groups which were: Agriculture, Education, Environment, Gender, ICT, and Conflict and Security.
- The aim of the working group session was to discuss issues on the thematic areas as it affects member states and across the federation by extension, utilizing moderated and unmoderated caucus tactics of debate to come up with draft resolutions of their consensus.
- After the thematic groups came up with their draft resolutions, General Assembly reconvened for closing plenary and each thematic lead presented the draft proposal, resolutions and recommendation, hence it was amended and adopted by the President. The President then adopted the motion raised by delegate to adjourn the closing plenary at exactly 04:46pm.
Resolution for Education Working Group (Chaired by Nnenna Uma)
- Recognising in accordance with the International Standard of Education that basic education comprises of primary and lower secondary education and emphasising the effects of poor basic education, relevant government offices (Ministries, Department and Agencies) were called upon to; access counterpart funds, enforce accountability and transparency in disbursement of allocated funds, conduct needs assessment at communal level before project implementations, and to adhere to the Universal Basic Education Act.
- Recalling the 2017 World Drug Report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), where it was reported that Nigeria has an estimated over 14 million persons abusing drugs, relevant stakeholders should incorporate mental health education in schools, create support groups for drug and substance abuse users, and incorporate survivors as mentors/role models.The delegates committed to a school-to-school drug usage campaign for abusers and non-abusers of drugs and called for the support of other stakeholders such as the church, mosque, parents and every Nigerian to speak against drug and substance abuse.
- Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which establishes the right of every individual to quality education, government must look into hidden fees in basic free education system it has established.
- YALI Network will embark on stronger advocacy in sensitising educational stakeholders on the societal effects of illiteracy.
- In support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 4 & 5 to ensure access to quality education and gender equality, government must setup girl-child ambassadors to serve as role models in Educationally Less Developed States (ELDS) in Nigeria, sensitize parents on the dangers of keeping their daughters away from school and set up peer-to-peer education.
- To achieve sustainable girl-child education, government should set up informal education structures using available tools while working towards getting them into formal school structures, invite volunteers to serve as teachers in informal learning systems, and commit to advocacy and sensitization of parents.
- Government must put in place proactive policies to keep girls in schools and relevant bodies should build schools closer to the Internally Displaced Persons camp. Also, the government must keep security in mind while building schools.
- The belief that the effects of poor education only affects the poorly educated is an illusion. We need to break the notion of developing policies because we have lots of good ones and rather, act/implement these policies to the letter. Conduct a post analysis after a few years on how well the policies have made a positive change in the economy at all levels to achieve sustainable quality education in Nigeria.
Resolution for Environment working Group (Chaired by Silas Daramola)
- There is need to engage in public enlightenment and community sensitization on the effects of improper waste management and climate change. These can be done by pushing for the implementation of Environmental Protection Policy on Deforestation and Degradation for Protection of biodiversity.
- There is an urgent need to engage in climate change policy discussions especially on deforestation, forestry and environmental management, and to push for the assentient of the climate bill.
- Government should work towards the removal of subsidy on fossil fuel, carbon pricing on industry with high emission and funding subsidized clean cooking stoves.
- YALI Network will collaborate with existing Government agencies, private sector, NGOs and INGOs to address issues pertaining to climate actions; linking youth to capacity building opportunities, innovative technology and access to finance relevant to scale through.
Resolution for Gender Working Group (Chaired by Oluwafunke Adeoye)
- Government should create legislations to discourage early marriage of girls as well as implementation of enacted legislations to criminalize gender-based Violence like the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act.
- There is need for strategic sensitization and re-orientation on Nigeria’s cultural and religious value in order to uphold gender balance in all spheres.
- There should be emphasis on not only enrollment of the girl child in school but completion of education. Girls should be given incentives and rewarded for doing well in school, and the issue of security also has to be dealt with.
- Boys and girls should be taught self-defense and self-protection at an early stage. Also, there should be creation of safe spaces and support systems for victims of gender-based violence.
Resolution for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Working Group (Chaired by Ammiel Charles)
- Nigeria and by extension, the African continent remains the laggard of the world as far as the digital space is concerned due to outdated academic curriculum, poor funding, lack/ non-implementation of government policies, lack of ICT enabling environment, and improper orientation among certain individuals.
- There is an urgent need for the ministry of education to review and completely overhaul the existing academic curriculum at all levels of education, primary, secondary and tertiary alike.
- Subjects, courses and disciplines that are relevant in the twenty first century should be included in the academic curriculum and certificates awarded in these areas, to end the cycle of churning out graduates with skills that are not relevant in the digital economy from Nigeria’s academic institutions.
- The 2018 report of the World Economic Forum shows that by the year 2022, 75 million jobs would have phased out of the job landscape, while 133 million jobs would emerge. So, the digital space is making more job opportunities available rather than eliminating them as is feared. However, the ICT space is a hands-on-platform, hence, the government should increase funding for the ICT sector to fund projects such as, ICT infrastructures and facility acquisition and development, establishment of tech hubs to enable job seekers acquire relevant skills so that youth unemployment can be curbed. This will also enable bodies such as the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to effectively carry out their duties across the country.
- Private/public partnerships should be more effectively deployed to solve immediate community ICT related challenges.
- Government should enact/enforce the implementation of policies to back the establishment of ICT agencies across the country and also to ensure that individuals who attempt to sabotage efforts to enhance development in this sector are brought to book.
- Disruptive advocacy should be raised around the enforcement and active implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, sensitization of the masses on their rights to follow the budget in this sector and demand accountability from stakeholders.
- Awareness campaigns should be carried out to sensitize young people on the need for them to have a paradigm shift in their perspectives on the future of jobs and embrace digital knowledge and skill acquisition, as only individuals with the right skill sets will be relevant in the near future.
- ICT Skill enhancement programs should be organized for teachers as well, and YALI Network should plan to establish ICT clubs as a short-term goal to save the situation until a revised academic curriculum is made available.
Resolution for Conflict and Security Working Group (Chaired by Ameer Lukman Haruna)
- Insurgencies have had significant impact on the nation’s economic growth in various ways, and, there is need for skills acquisitions, sensitization and advocacy and religious bodies should preach friendly messages to dissuade their members from violence.
- Government should build a Central Identity Database, to solve crime, and also consider going into partnership with district and village heads in resolving conflicts especially at grassroot level.
- Government should ensure that perpetrators of crime get proper punishment. There is the need to build strong institutions that investigate and prosecute perpetrators of crime and apply technology to curb crime.
- There is the urgent need to look at State policing and total restructuring of security systems, and bring all stakeholders involved into dialogue.
- Government should work with youth-led initiatives such as Do (org) which has the potential to support and integrate over 50,000 youths by 2030 through its 10-year Skill-Up-Climb-Up program across various states, as a way to curb crime.
- Harness the power of social media, by launching campaigns against cultism.
- Telecommunication companies should partner with security agencies to track crime using technological techniques and individuals must have emergency call lines of the security agencies in the case of emergency.
- Government should work with private security firms as well as the police for proper information documentation sharing (universal database).
- There is need for sensitization campaigns across the grassroots to enlighten parents and locals on the effects of cultism and the problem it poses to communities and the nation at large.
- Back to school action for out-of-school children who are prone to becoming criminals should be implemented.
- Government should engage young people in decision making and create social investment programs.
- Locals and traditional rulers should be engaged in creating employment for the youth.
- Accountability is the key and so, the youths need to work together, take initiatives like ‘Follow the Money ‘ and ensure transparency.
- Strong institutions should also be created to address issues relating to farmers clashes and herdsmen issues.
- Campaigns against sponsorships of cult groups by politicians for election purposes should be launched.
Resolution for Agriculture Working Group (Chaired by Suleiman Usman Mohammed)
- Government of Nigeria, local and international NGOs should adopt policies that will drive youth inclusion in agriculture. Youth engagement in agriculture still remains very poor, even with various evidence towards its importance and role in the community for national development.
- Agriculture plays a major role in the actualization of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, and so, there is the need for continuous advocacy for youth inclusion in agricultural policies.
- Creation of YALI Agro start-up labs in partnership with key stakeholders in each state to educate youths on new and improved agricultural practices, development of Agro value chain, Agro journalism, Agro marketing etc., is of utmost importance.
- Utilize ICT to empower youths and to educate them on the benefits associated with agriculture.
- Gift Olivia Samuel (Lead, Rapporteur Team)
- Margaret Kojusola (Rapporteur II)
- Faith Agada
- Rachael Bereba
- Jennifer Vivian Ezenwabasili