By Blessing Chukwuneke
The United Nations (UN) in 1999 declared August 12 every year as International Youth Day (IYD). This was aimed at cementing the recommendations of the 1998 World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youths at Lisbon. IYD has been marked since the year 2000 making it 20 years.
According to the UN, IYD gives an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement.
This year’s theme; “Youth Engagement for Global Action” aims at highlighting the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.
The term youth has for ages drawn heated controversies. Talking of youths these words come to mind; vigor, young. A country’s youth are referred to as the next generation leaders and game changers, refiners and redefiners.
UN, in a bid to specify this category of individuals, defines youths as those between the ages of 15 and 24.
However, the body acknowledges that member states have an autonomy in their definition of youth. The National Youth Policy defines Youth as a Nigerian citizen between the ages of 18 – 29 years, while the African youth charter recognises youth as people between 18–35.
In September 2015, the UN general assembly adopted the 15 years Sustainable Development Goals plan, with the aim of leaving no one behind.
These goals expected to be fully achieved by 2030 would have more bearing if the youths are involved and indeed not left behind. The 17 points goal which include no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality and so on can only be realised if a workable structure is built involving the youths and then maintenance of that structure would come easier as you can affectionately protect what you built. Most importantly, goal 17 is partnership to achieve other 16 goals and the youths are available for partnership.
In the 2012, baseline youth survey of the national bureau of statistics (NBS) states that young people are key actors and a driving force for global development and peace. They are critical partners in the development of nations and their contribution to society must be measured in terms of productive pursuits of service to humanity. The Youths are Nigeria’s foremost social capital and require proper monitoring.
However, it is worthy of note that Nigeria being the most populous country in Africa with one of the largest populations of youth in the world, comprising over 33 million people is yet to provide its youth with a realistic and accessible platform to be involved institution processes and politics. The Age Reduction Bill popularly known as Not Too Young To Run bill, a constitutional amendment movement led by young Nigerians aim at fostering greater avenue for young people to participate in governance, has yet to record significant impact in driving youths’ participation in politics. Nevertheless, Nigerian youths have not relented.
As part of this year’s activities, IYD would be working with UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs on a podcast release. “It will be discussing how the engagement of youth is enriching local, national and global institutions and political processes. Importantly, it will be hosted by youth for youth. Accompanied by a host, two guests will join the conversation for each segment.
The guests will represent the different scales of youth action and political engagement, covering local (sub-national/community level), national and global scales. The goal of the podcast is to showcase effective examples of youth engagement in political processes and activism and draw lessons with regard to how youth representation and participation in formal politics can be enhanced, especially for the purpose of responding to global challenges”.