The National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) on Wednesday submitted a proposal to Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki on laws aimed at ensuring increased participation of youths in the governance of the country.
President of the Council, Barr. Ikenga Ugochinyere, who led the national executive of the council and leaders of other Nigerian youth bodies on a solidarity visit to the Senate President, said though the organisation was established in 1964, it still lacks necessary institutional support or backing as it received no funding from the government “despite the fact that provision is always made in the budget.”
He lamented that the last subvention the Council received from government was in 2010, adding that “that is why our visit to you today offers hope to millions of young people who believe that the outcome of our visit will be for their benefit and institutionalisation of the Youth Council because without this framework, our abilities and capacities to discharge our roles are limited.”
He described Saraki as the link between the old generation and the youths and a shining beacon of light for young persons, as well as an ambassador for the new Nigeria.
The Council boss pleaded with the Senate President to help steer the 8th Senate in support of its proposed legislative actions to uplift the status of youths in the country, which include: An Act to grant parliamentary recognition for the Council, an Act to Guarantee the participation of young people in government and also to prepare new generation of leaders by reserving 40 per cent of all appointive positions in government for young persons between the ages of 18 & 45.
He equally called for the amendment of the Constitution – by removing all barriers of age – “so that anyone who is qualified to vote at 18 should be qualified to be voted for as well.”
He commended the Senate President for the maturity and quality leadership he has exhibited so far in the last 10 months of presiding over the Senate and for appointing mostly young persons as personal aides.
He said the Council in “appreciation and recognition of the trail blazing leadership” has “unanimously” voted to induct the Senate President into the prestigious National Advisory Council of the Youth Council.
He further lamented that the trial of the Senate President at the Code of Conduct Tribunal is “tainted with external manipulations and lacks all credible tenets of a proper judicial process.”
“The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Chairman is on administrative bail by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and for a man who is to sit in judgment over others having a leash around his neck is not fair and just, as the judge cannot be believed to be acting freely, fairly and judiciously without interference from the man who is holding the leash.
“We make bold to call on the EFCC to conclusively determine the issue of the CCT Chairman while we also call on the CCT Chairman to step aside from all cases before the tribunal in the interim until his case is answered to restore the honour and integrity of the tribunal.
“We want to assure you (Saraki) that the Nigerian youths will continue to stand by you and that we will not stand by and fold our hands and allow the judiciary to be turned into an instrument of witch-hunt.
“During the time of Speaker, Madam Patricia Etteh and Adolphus Nwabara, when allegations were leveled against them, they were forced to step down and a year after, the parliament cleared them of all wrong doing. By that time, they had lost their positions. In view of that, Council totally rejects calls for your resignation and insists that the judicial process must be allowed to run its full course. Council is with you all the way, we are here to unequivocally pledge our unalloyed support to you. Continue to shine the light, continue to lead the way, and continue to blaze the trail,” he said.
On his part, the Senate President commended the Council for its dedication and commitment towards building a great country.
Saraki said: “You’ are very right that the Youth Council can do more than it has been doing since its formation in 1964 and I agree with you that lack of independence, the limitation of funding has restricted that but I want to say that this is a platform through which we can continue to ensure youth participation in governance and ensure that youths play their own role.
“No doubt about it, you have our support in the National Assembly, in the Senate, in looking at some of this legislations before us because it will go a very long way in strengthening this Council and this will go a long way as well at ensuring that the youths play their role in governance and in the development of this country.
“It is the youths that have the energy. It is the youths that have the commitment and they are the ones that can go the miles. So, why waste you outside when you should be inside of government playing key roles”, Saraki said.
The Senate President said the 8th National Assembly will continue to support the youths to ensure that they are given due recognition in governance.