The Youth and Sports Development Minister, Sunday Dare was as usual, eloquent in his speech at the first National Youth Conference held at the Velodrome, MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
He started, “today, Nigeria joins the Continent in marking the Africa Youth day. At the same time, November 1, is a day dedicated to celebrate Nigerian youth as a National Youth day by the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
• The Youth and Sports Development Minister, Sunday Dare, welcoming the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo while the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, left looks on
Africa Youth Day was instituted by the Africa Union Commission on, November 1st of each year is used to promote Africa’s youth awareness creation on the participation towards -The Africa we want Development.
The significance of November 1 for the average youth and the activities around this day accentuates the youth agenda and concentrates our minds and commitment to do something and do more for our youth.
It is also a good opportunity to deepen youth engagements, conversations and collaborations. But beyond all of these to begin to ACT timeously in addressing the needs of our youth.
• Sunday Dare, right with the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo
The decision to hold a delegate based National Youth conference such as this was not a difficult one. After all, it is the season of the youth with the radar on them as solution providers and the midwives of a better and more secured future.
One thing was difficult however, that was how to develop the thematic areas and design a conference template that will make the youth hold a conversation amongst themselves with the government playing a listening ear. But beyond that to see the youth come up with workable suggestions and ideas that are able to be processed by government.
Let me thank President Muhammadu Buhari whose commitment to youth development remains Consistent. He has demonstrated his support for the growth of the youth of our nation in many ways. There is no time I seek an audience with him to discuss youth and sports matters that I have been turned back. And every time before I leave, he tells me, ‘Make Sure you keep the youth busy productively.’ We thank Mr. President for the approval he granted us to host this National Youth conference. We will hear from him this morning. You can easily decorate Mr. President with these titles and more when it comes to youth development: N-Power. NSIP. NYIF. JFP. GEEP. ABP. YFP. And many more. The youth from this conference will ask for more Mr. President.
Mr. Vice President, who is here in our midst is one who navigates the youth world with ease. A youth mentor and a great supporter of the aspirations of the youth. The youth of this country also have a leader in you.
Across the velodrome you will find many quotes from our leaders and from youth like you and from the EU and others. Pause to read them. They can be useful, Your excellency. One of such quotes from you that ring out is this – “Our young people are full of zest, ideas and creative energy and sometimes they get understandably frustrated with the inability of our institutions to keep pace with their vision and dynamism. But we must not let agents of discord weaponize this frustration and turn it into a severe rupture within the country.” – VP Osinbajo. Nothing captures the moment better. Nothing reflects on our situation better challenging our youth to greater ideas.
Across the Continent the issues that tug at the heart of youth development are not far fetched. When taken in isolation they simply magnify. But when taken in relation to each other we begin to see not just the problems but also the solutions. The issues of youth inclusiveness in governance, employment and Secuirity, resonates well among the youth. We also find them high up on the agenda of the United Nations, Governments and private organisations. How do we bring our youth on board as Learners and decision makers. How do we increase the investments in their skills and businesses? How do we provide funds for them. How Do we support them to become self starters and entrepreneurs? Wealth creators and employers of labor and much more.
Nigerian Youth and indeed African Youth have come of age. The youth are setting new standards. They are breaking barriers and expanding the frontiers of innovation and technology. Dominating the creative arts and entertainment. In governance we see young law makers. Young people leading organisations in private and Public sectors. We do not need to look any further to know that the CEOs of tomorrow are here already. The leaders of tomorrow are moving into place. Taking their places. Asking for things to be done differently and leading the way with the power of their ideas and the strength of their conviction.
Today, I celebrate the youth population because of their great potentials. Their creativity and their determination to succeed.
As the Ministry saddled with the responsibility of drawing up the pathway for the Nigerian Youth, we knew we had to do things differently in line with the vision and policy drive of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
What we have put together for the next three days is a private sector-driven initiative planned by some of the most creative young minds Nigeria has produced, a reflection of what is possible and realisation of who we truly are.
I congratulate all our delegates, ten from each of the thirty-six States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, the representatives of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), NYCN and some other major youth groups across the country. This is your conference. So, let’s have the ideas roll out and let’s work to produce a plan of action for the youth of our country.
Participation will be both physical and virtual at all general and breakout sessions. So, from the comfort of your homes, or wherever you are, you can choose from the line-up of speakers and facilitators and enjoy their sessions real time.
The Ministry’s programs are focused on providing opportunities for our youth in training, digital skills, Entrepreneurship, soft skills, internships and access to credit and finance among others. The DEEL
programme helps to fill the knowledge and skills gap in the Nigerian youth. Our DEEL Initiative which focuses on – Digital Literacy and Skills Acquisition, Entrepreneurship, Employability and Leadership. We focus more on training into enterprise. We have trained close to 198,000 youth in the past two years.
The Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) scheme provides access to funds much needed by MSMEs and thousands of our youth are benefiting. So far, over 6,000 youth from across the country have benefited and we have solid data to back this up. Another 10,000 have been shortlisted for
Training before benefiting. The process goes on.
We have had strategic implementation Partners in trying to deliver training and support for our youth. The EU has been wonderful. The EU youth programs and collaborations are robust and Impactful.
Thank you for plugging into the public private partnership we adopted to make this possible.
For many years, we had fondly referred to the youth as the leaders of tomorrow, but reality points to the truth. The youth are not just our future, they are also our present. They must be involved in our politics, nation building, peace and security efforts now and not later. While the youth have all the energies needed to power this nation, I believe it is time they understood the many processes and procedures that lead to political choices and decisions. They need to start appreciating that decisions taken by Government, may not be necessarily popular but critical to national security. They need to start understanding why joining and participating in political parties is essential to getting political powers. I hope our speakers will make much reference to this as we proceed.
Undoubtedly, if there are any areas where the Nigerian Youth stand tall and on top of the world it is sports, entertainment and the creative industry. Our music and movies are the biggest Nigerian export today and we have not even scratched the surface yet. The giant strides of our Youth in the movie industry popularly referred to as Nollywood for instance, has placed Nigeria on the global pedestal, contributing at least $7.2billion to Nigeria’s GDP. You already know that our music industry is also a runaway success. We have seen collaboration of the likes of Wizkid, Davido with top artistes across the world,
Education, innovation and technology for Youth Development. We now talk about the
soft power of sports, entertainment and creatives. As a Ministry, one of our most important obligations is to initiate programs that will support and create opportunities for the youth of our country.
As I close, let me say this: This Conference is not about Government standing aloof to watch the youth perform some stage play. It is not also the opposite. This is a collaboration. This is Government and the Nigerian Youth standing shoulder-to-shoulder, walking and working together as one and staying on the same page. Changing our stories for the better. Together,
Once again, I welcome you all to this historic conference.