National Youth Conference 2021: The Synopsis Of An Epoch-making Event

The analysis of events that made headlines in 2021 won’t be complete without more than a passing mention of the National Youth Conference organised by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (FMYSD) in partnership with the private sector and the nation’s development partners.

The about 3-day event which commenced from November 1st, had about 850 delegates from 34 States and the FCT converge on Abuja, with almost 15,000 registered to participate virtually. Unlike other conferences of its ilk, a novel idea – a customised app, was developed to make Nigerians and Youth across the World to follow deliberations at the conference, real-time. The combination of physical attendance, virtual, TV broadcast and live streaming ensured that millions participated actively, making it one of the most trended events in 2021.

The Conference which was declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari, ably represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, held plenary sessions on the first day. From the second day, break-out sessions involved deliberations around the three thematic areas of Education, Innovation and Technology for Youth Development; Politics, Nation Building, Peace, Unity and Security; The Soft Power of Sports, Entertainment and Creatives. One would have thought the thematic area that includes entertainment, sports and creatives would generate the most interest amongst the youth, but that was not the case. Pre-conference survey carried out showed that most Youth, over 60%, were interested in the discourse on Politics, Nation Building, Peace, Unity and Security.

Some participants spoke about their experience at the conference. A Corp member summed it up, this way, “Our opinion have been heard, I believe that there will be positive changes, and the impact will be far-reaching”. Another delegate thanked the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, stating he has shown his love for the Nigerian Youth, expressing optimism that the resolutions of the Conference will be implemented. President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Amb. Sukubo Sara-Igbe Sukubo asserted that with the Conference, there is hope for the Nigerian Youth, emphasising that for the first time, their voices have been heard, loud and clear.

Unlike other Conferences that end up being mere talk-shows, the communique titled “New Dawn for Nigerian Youth” has since been fine-tuned into implementable recommendations for requisite Executive and Legislative action. Amongst the forward looking recommendations include proposal for a legislation to abolish the clause on the “number of years experience” in the employment of Youth. This will make more Youth access job opportunities in the employment market, and also propel investment in the training required to match skills for the job opening.

Other recommendations include fast-tracking processes for a National Disability Allowance for the physically challenged Youth; Creation of Youth departments in all Local Governments of the Federation to address Youth concerns, considerations and programmes; Consideration of the cooperative system as financial enablers to fund political ambitions of the Youth; 40% appointment allowance for young people; Full adoption of the mentorship system, a Youth Ideas bank should be created; Unemployment benefits for unemployed youth amongst others.

Already, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is fine-tuning processes for crafting of a memo from the recommendations, to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) , whilst concerted efforts in engaging the National Assembly is on-going, to give legal teeth to those requiring legislations.

Indeed, 2022 will be a year that Nigerian Youth can look forward to far-reaching reforms that will positively impact their lives, in the aftermath of the National Youth Conference, 21. Already, an unprecedented N60bn has been allocated to Youth development in the National Development Plan (2021-2015), which will not only enable the Ministry scale up opportunities for Youth, but also extend beyond the present administration. Truly, a new dawn beckons!

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