In recent times, the idea of youth participation in governance has become a popular discourse in Nigeria. Young people are getting more interested and sensitised on the need for active participation in the decision-making process. It is on this note that over 3000 youths across the country met last Thursday to chart a way forward.The colourful event, tagged, “Young and Emerging Leaders Summit”, was organised by Network for Talent Discovery (NETAD), an organisation committed to making positive contribution in ensuring talent discovery and development, leadership development and fostering patriotism among teenagers in the African continent and beyond.
The morning rain could not deter the participants who were already seated by 10am at the magnificent Aduke Maina Hall, Federal College of Education, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Some of them were youth leaders from Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Kwara, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Kano, Gombe, among other states. Members of the Youth Parliament, Ogun State, and the Nigerian Red Cross Society were also at the summit.
Students of the Federal College of Education, Abeokuta, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (UNAAB), Premier Grammar School, Abeokuta and Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta were also present in their numbers.
In her keynote address entitled, “Youth Participation in Qualitative Governance:Mirage or Reality?”, wife of Ogun State Governor, Mrs. Olufunso Amosun charged the youths to get themselves involved in the process of evolving a better future, adding that the act of good or qualitative governance is not an exclusive preserve of a particular generation.
Mrs. Amosun, who was represented by the wife of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Ogun State, Dr. (Mrs.) Rasheedat Salisu, said: “ As a mother, I see our youths as the pivotal pillars with abundant and fresh energy that can help us build a great future. It is a truism that ideas rule the world. Our youths are full of ideas and they have responsibility to come forward to make those ideas available so as to take our society to the next level.
“The theme is very apt and timely, considering leadership challenges our dear nation is passing through. Though these challenges are not insurmount-able, it requires our concerted efforts to bring forth new ideas in order to transform our society.”
The facilitator and Executive Coordinator of NETAD, Aanu Damola Morenikeji thanked the participants for the success of the programme. And in his presentation tagged: “Emerging Societies, Emerging Leaders”, he described leaders as people who are able to think and act creatively in non-routine situations and who set out to influence the actions, beliefs and feelings of others to achieve set goals.
The 18-year-old Ogun State Youth Coordinator, Nigerian Red Cross Society, and winner, Ogun State 2012 Youth Award for Excellence in Health and Community Service, noted that 10,000 new leadership positions shall emerge over the next de-cade in different fields.
“The world is changing. The world is emerging. Everything is shifting, even nature. Only those who change along with it shall survive. Only the unique folks, visionary leaders shall emerge to rule in the new world order,” he asserted.
Morenikeji, who is an author (having written six story books) and motivational speaker, told the participants that “the three things that can stop you from becoming your dream is you! you!! and you!!!”
Another speaker, Ogunbowale Oludayo made a stimulating presentation. Speaking on “Participation is you;Encouraging blue ocean participation”, Oludaya who is President, DESPLAY Af-rica Republic, Season 7, defined youth participation as young people getting involved in what happens around them and decisions that affect their lives and well-being.
He enumerated corruption, bad governance, non functional education, hike in fuel pump price, poor health care, unemploy-ment, inequality, among other problems, as some of the reasons that call for their participation.
“Get involved today in social change and what’s happening around you! Nigeria, democracy, your community offers a unique space and possibilities….what do you offer as youths? To live is to participate!” he charged.
Similarly, National President of The Young Journalists Fo-rum, Ayodele Samuel Ayokunle pointed that there are over 45 million young people in Nigeria, yet 90 per cent of these populations are not involved in decision-making process while less than 50 percent have access to one form of social media.
Making a presentation on “Youth Participation in Gover-nance and Decision Making; Using the Social Media Effectively in Nigeria,” Ayokunle urged the tech-savvy young Nigerians to gear up to use BlackBerries, mobile phones and social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook to contribute to decision making process.
Interestingly, budding artistes, comedians and others displayed their talents to the admiration of everybody in the hall. Participants were, however, given certificates.
NOTE: The above article was written by Leonard Okachie and published by National Mirror. Click here to view story.