Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives says African nations risk dire consequences if they fail to set agenda for youths in their respective countries.
Dogara who stated this at the opening of African Regional Conference of the International Parliamentary Union- Young Parliamentarians Forum held in Abuja, expressed optimism that African youths have the potentials to leverage on new technologies to unleash their innovative skills in order to redeem Africa economically.
The Speaker who noted that Africa has the fasted growing and most youthful population in the world, warned that African governments cannot afford the social and political costs of neglecting the young persons.
“Any nation that fails to set an agenda for its youth must have wittingly or unwittingly outsourced that responsibility to the youths to set one for themselves, and that nation should be ready to bear the dire consequences in terms of social and political costs.
“This is a luxury African nations cannot afford because Africa has the fastest growing and most youthful population in the world at the moment.
“Government has a duty to develop clear policies and programmes for youth development and get the young ones involved in the planning, formulation, execution and supervision as a matter of necessity and clear demonstration of government commitment in creating a tolerant and inclusive society,” the Speaker said.
The Speaker who expressed concern over the rising violence, insecurity and extremism in Africa, enjoined participants at the conference to come up with recommendations that that will deal with socio-political challenges in the continent.
“The rising political insecurity, violent extremism and crises ravaging Africa is another issue that should be of concern to us as lawmakers. I want participants at this conference to carefully examine the relationship between youth unemployment/underemployment and upsurge in criminal activities, extremism and armed conflict on the continent.”
“I equally crave the indulgence of delegates and other participants at this Conference to not only proffer solutions to the challenges raised, but as members of Parliaments and drivers of positive change, we must go back to our different countries with the hunger and spirit of pressing for domestication and optimal implementation of the outcomes of our deliberations at this conference.”
He averred that the hopes and aspirations of Africa depend on the education and progress of the youths, and called on them to safeguard the sanctity of Africa’s democracy.
“We must not allow ourselves to be used as instruments of political or economic instability; rather every young person must wear a robe of vigilance as eternal vigilance is the price we must all pay in order to safeguard our democracy and the liberty that it offers.
“May we through a gathering like this build a sustainable force made up of young persons across the continent that would arrest our retardation and retrogression more succinctly captured in the very words of Walter Rodney as, “development of underdevelopment”.
To achueve the feat, Dogara underscored the need for African governments to invest in quality of education and progress of its youth.
On his part, Nnana Ugbokwe, House of Representatives at the African Region Conference of Young Parliamentarians, noted that the theme of the conference: “Empowering Youths: Enhancing political participation for more inclusive and peaceful societies is coming at a right time when we are observing increasing investment in young people in violent extremism and conflict across Africa.
“There can be no string democracy, no lasting peace and no sustainable prosperity without the contribution of young people who represent a major segment of the population in many African countries.
“We must therefore come out of the conference with new and creative solutions for peace and prosperity in Africa where young people are becoming the brunt of the socio-economic crisis and are the primary victims of the violence and conflicts that threaten the present and the future of their societies.
“We believe that the legislative and government policy response to the involvement of young people in violence and conflict should not be reduced to merely on security and military response,” Igbokwe said.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja