The International Youth Day (IYD) 2022 was celebrated with style in Maiduguri, Borno state, as young people assembled at a symposium organized by the Center for Advicacy Transparency, Accountability Initiative (CATAI), to discuss the need for their self development and inclusion in public decision making.
Top amongst the broad spectrum of challenge listed to have plagued the quest for youth inclusion in public affairs is the issues of time and technology.
CATAI, a Maiduguri base nongovernmental organisations, with a rising influential profile among youth, hosted the symposium with support from Action Aid which well over a hundred young persons from the different walk of life attended.
The theme of the symposium for the 2022 #IYD commemoration was ‘international solidarity; creating a world for all’: paving a way for youth in policy and decision making, the communication went with a quotable slogan “together we can build resilience and build positive changes in policy and decision making to shape the globe.
Organised at the prestigious Elkanemi Hall, University of Maiduguri, the occasioned was graced by the permanent secretary ministry of women affairs and youth development, a special assistant to the governor on media and the president nxational youth council Borno state as well as the the other notable names within the civil society and academia.
The programme manager for CATAI, Ishiaku Balami, said as a youth-led organisation the idea of commemorating IYD was to pave the way and create an enabling space for the young ones in policy and decision making.
He said CATAI, in advancing its commitment to altering the narratives that promote ageism, decide to bring forward-looking and open-minded individuals of different ages together to discuss the issues and imperative of youth empowerment.
“Sidelining the youth is like cutting off the fuse for future development,” the programme manager said.
“The society must understand that the youth is a strong pillar and without empowering them, without providing a space for them to work and have that given sense of belonging, then the future is doomed.
Participants at the event witnessed papers presented on the dangers of marginalization of young women as well as on youth participation on policy and decision making which stressed the need for youth to be regarded as influencers and decision makers.
The event later had a panel discussion session where the representatives of the Borno states commissioners for women Affairs and that of the Youth and Sports, a director of works from the Borno State University, and representation of youth from both the humanitarian and civil society elaborately discussed issues that affect youth engagement and how to tackle them to engender a robust youth participation in policy and decision-making.
Abubakar Suleiman, who momoderated the Panel Discussion said; “The key messaging for this year is that people should not be marginalized but be given equal opportunity, they should not be assessed based on age profile or any other related consideration.”
The permanent secretary of women’s affairs, advocated that the youth should not give room to anyone to label them as being lazy, “rather, the youth should make the most of their time by engaging in positive ventures and enterprise.”
“The young ones, especially the students should always allow the university to pass through them by ensuring that knowledge and character are engrained in their system as they pass through the university or college system. They should shun drug abuse and other criminality.”
Caleb El-Bumba of the Oppotunity To Learn (OTL) Project, had during panel session advocated that “the youth must take two things from technology: one is to take advantage of it as a positive factor, even as he noted the fact that the older generations are not too familiar with the technological process, which the younger generation can take advantage of as an edge for trans-generational solidarity.
“There are a lot of processes in the economy, the government process, and even the global economy that are shifting towards technology and the youth can take over that window and contribute their bit of relevance.”
He said the second aspect is impact of technology is the issue of distraction, especially the use of mobile phones.
“Technology is vast and the ones that we have handy with us all the time, is the smartphone which is very distractive and needs self-regulation,” he said.
“We should guide our phones and not the phone guiding us because we are running out of time and as youths, we should have that sense of time and adjust our attitude toward technology. ”
Tanimu Tahir-Mbaya, the chairman of National Youth Council of Nigeria, (NYCN), Borno state chapter, had in his eloquent presentation, gave emphasis to the need for “the older generation to understand that all their legacies will be null and void without thorough mentorship of the younger generation.”
“And there is this wrong notion that our generation is lazy – which we, of course, disagreed with and they later agreed with us – but there is nothing wrong with getting things done the easiest way. This is a technology and knowledge-driven age, and the reason technology exists is to make things easy. All what the older generation needs to do is to keep a track on us to find out if we are unable to use the technology in its most effective way. And there is this general agreement that we are not lazy but we need to work harder to demonstrate that uncommon commitment that we need the mentorship.”
Charles Durojaiye of Action Aid in Maiduguri said his organisation is supporting CATAI on the day of IYD in “encouraging the youth to make efforts to create opportunities for themselves and also to recognise that all people from different ages contribute to the development of the society.
“That is why we are encouraging them to look into the area of technology, which goes beyond smartphones and social media. The world is moving towards technology in all aspects of life and there is the need for the youth to be well equipped so that they won’t be left behind when the time comes.”
He also called on the commissioners of youth in Nigeria to seriously look into the plights of the youth so that they can be well groomed and represented in all aspects of society.
“We cannot achieve this when the majority of our youth have been idle at home since February because the Universities are on strike,” he said.
“So we need to begin to hear the voices of the college of the commissioner of youths in this country coming together to make a statement on the need to end strike and provide solutions to the youth problems.
“So, a strong call on the commissioners of youth on this 2022 International youth day is for them to call for an end to these incessant strikes in the university so that we can realise the goal of this year’s theme for IYD which is young building resilience so that they can make changes in policy and decision making.”
The session ended with the youth breaking up into groups to identify their challenges and then come up with a chatter KD demand which is expected to be used as a reference tool for advocacy.