Investing in youth, key to Nigeria’s development – CSO

Leadership of labour and civil society speaks to thousands of people protesting against the scrapping of oil subsidy at Gani Fawehinmi Park in Lagos, on January 11, 2012. Thousands of protesters gathered at the Gani Fawehinmi Park in the third day of on-going mass strike by labour and civil society to protest the scrapping of oil subsidy by the government. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

Stakeholders at a pre-summit meeting have called on the Nigerian government to invest more in youths to reap the country’s demographic dividend.

The stakeholders, including development partners, civil society organisations and youth development officers from across the country, made the appeal in Abuja, at a forum organised by the National Population Commission (NPopC) sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in collaboration with the Office of the Acting President.

They identified the key multi-sectoral investments in health, education, employment, entrepreneurship and good governance.

Dr Eugene Kongnyuy, the UNFPA Deputy Representative and Officer-in-Charge, called for “strengthening of the capacity of government for the development and implementation of programmes, strategies and policies focusing on investment in youth to reap demographic dividend.”

Kongnyuy also advised governments at all levels to address issues of adolescent reproductive health, education, economy and job creation to empower youths in the country.

A representative of the Nigerian Youth Parliament, Mr Kabiru Sheme, also appealed to the government to invest more in youths to curb youth restiveness in the country.

Sheme said that youths needed quality and functional education and gainful employment to make them useful citizens.

The Country Director of Population Council, Dr Sylvia Adebajo, explained that Nigeria has a lot to benefit from its young population if they are meaningfully engaged.

She said that empowering the youths with reproductive and sexual education as well as relevant skills would ginger national economic growth.

The Chairman, National Population Commission, Eze Duruiheoma SAN, said government was ready to commit more resources on youths toward nation building.

He called for a more robust collaboration with development partners, the private sector, civil society organisations and the media to drive the process.