JOE EFFIONG, UYO
The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang has warned Nigerian leaders and elders to stop demonizing the youth by calling them derogatory names such as criminals, cultists or lazy youth.
Enang said such appellations and the reluctance of the older generation to create space for the younger ones in governance and the nation’s economy have continued to lower their self esteem, and are largely responsible for the youth restiveness witnessed in the country.
Speaking at the National Dialogue to mark 2021 Democracy Day, organized by the Civil Liberties Organisations (CLO) in conjunction with the Office of Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, in Uyo on Friday, Sen Enang blamed government for using and abandoning the youths without providing jobs for them.
He urged the government to apologize to the youths, saying, “It is time to have meaningful dialogue with the youths of this State and country and practically give them roles and space in the Governance and economy of this State and country.
“We should not profile them as criminals or cultists nor such derogatory nor demeaning appellations that gives them low self or societal esteem.
“Doing so ostracises them and embolden them to form camps, carry arms and do the worst. This please is in view of the peculiar times, and not the norm for all times. We should not profile nor stigmatise them,” he noted.
The Presidential aide who also advocated a national dialogue every five years to tackle the problems bedevilling the nation, said the dialogue would help the six geo-political zones in the country express their grievances and reach a compromise that would help to move the nation forward.
Emphasizing that the voices of discord and discontent across the country is getting louder and needed to be addressed, Enang said the national conference would not take over the functions of the government but serve as a feedback from the people.
Also speaking, Member representing Etinan, Nsit Ibom, Nsit Ubium Federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Onofiok Luke, cautioned President Buhari against ignoring the various agitations coming out from the South/East and South/ West regions.
Luke who is the Chairman, House Committee on Judiciary expressed disappointment that much has been said but nobody is listening to the various voices of reason in the country.
“It is by coming together to share ideas and share thoughts beyond party lines, taking a bipartisan approach, bringing together men and women who have leaders touch, one solution or the other, one idea or the other that we could all fine-tune and push the agenda for the development of this country.
“I have always been an advocate for bipartisan approach to the problems of this country. The problem we are facing doesn’t know party, it doesn’t know region, religion.
“Now the security crisis we are experiencing in the South East, we have had a case of that crisis in North West. We have had students kidnapped from Schools, and those students are not Christians, those students are Muslims.
“We’ve had this crisis happen in states that are not APC, we have had it happen in states that are PDP. And the people affected by this crisis are the Nigerian populace. It affects our parents, siblings.
“I am a firm believer in the unity of Nigeria, the unity of Nigeria founded on justice, equity and then founded on true federalism. And we can achieve this by every segment of this society seeing ourselves as equals.
“The agitation that we have had, agitation for secession, for all sorts of things is because some sections of the country feel marginalized.
Speaking on the theme of the dialogue; “Democracy, Insecurity and Unity of Nigeria” the National Legal Adviser of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Barr Emmanuel Enoidem who was represented on the occasion by Dr Tom Fredfish on his part made case for Igbo Presidency, maintaining that the civil war was yet to be over until the Igbos are given the chance to produce the President of Nigeria.
State Chairman of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) Akwa Ibom State Branch, Mr Franklyn Isong who set the tone for the dialogue said the essence of drawing participants across political, religious and ethnic lines was was to demonstrate the need for a bipartisan approach to tackling the nation’s common enemies; economic challenges and insecurity.