Gabriel Dike and Gloria Ikegbule
Worried about the state of affairs of Nigerian youth, Baywood Foundation and some stakeholders gathered in Lagos to champion their cause and to encourage the youth to play active part in politics and other spheres of the nation’s economy.
In order to walk-the-talk, Baywood foundation brought stakeholders together at a book launch: ‘’Beyond Rhetoric: Youth Empowerment and Political Voice in Nigeria’’ which attracted prominent Nigerians such as former two-time Minister of Petroleum Resources and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, Vice President, Nigeria Agribusiness Group, Mr. Emmanuel Ijewere, Country Director, Plan International, Abuja, Dr. Hussaini Abdu, Prof Patricia Donli of University of Maiduguri, Prof Isaac Olawale, Country Director, Baywood Foundation, Prof Martin Ike-Muonso, Vice Chancellor, Caleb University, Imota, Lagos, Prof Ayandiji Aina, APC Enugu state guber candidate, Senator Ayogu Eze, the state party chairman, Dr. Ben Nwoye, youth and some university students.
Founder/Chairman of Board of Baywood Foundation, Emperor Baywood Ibe, told the gathering that the title of the book was chosen to reflect the departure of the authors working in tandem with
the foundation from the all-talk and no-action approach to the challenges faced by Nigerian youth.
Emperor Ibe described the Nigerian youth as a circumstantial victim of numerous bad, joblessness, misery, examination malpractice, violence, HIV/AIDS, cultism and sexual promiscuity.
His words: ‘’ Worse still, they have no voice in the decisions taken over things that concern
them. Yet many of them have remained resolute in keeping up with the fight; a fight against a system that seemed to have forgotten that they exist. A strenuous fight to survive. Baywood Foundation is proud to reinstate that it stands with the Nigerian youth in these trials.
‘’This book responds to this anomaly by offering solutions that go beyond the usual talk-shows. No one needs to be told that dealing with the enormity of these challenges bedeviling the youth cannot be achieved by mere rhetoric. The solution lies on decisive actions that are backed and given teeth by law and relevant legislation.’’
According to Emperor Ibe, the solution lies in the affirmative Action for the youth driven by internship system, particularly at decision-making levels in governments.
He told the gathering that the country has consciously refuse to accept that the youths are solid assets for our strong future growth and development and warned that we should not miss the opportunity to capitalise on the gargantuan burst of raw energy.
Emperor Ibe however observed that the attempt to understand the issues of youth empowerment and political voice within Nigeria by a selected team of experts and the book presentation which is the
eventual output from those efforts are just some of the efforts in the first leg of this process.
The second and third legs, he noted are similar and are predicated on Kenyan and Ethiopian socio-economic contexts and that the book resulting from those efforts will be published early next year.
The foundation, Emperor Ibe said will engage the Africa Union to convince the heads of governments of Africa to adopt the affirmative action for the African youth.
Advising Nigerian youth, the chairman on the occasion, Mr. Ijewere tasked the youth to change their thought and be determined to take their rightful place because nobody will give them the opportunity on a platter of gold.
His words: ‘’Get focused, get united, understand the mistakes of those before you, take advantage of your population and rule Nigeria. You should say to yourself, it is time to take over Nigeria.”
Ijewere advocated for direct action rather than affirmative action and stressed that the book will encourage the youth to go out and take over power from the old politicians who he said are not ready to retire from politics.
The book presenter, Mr. Ajumogobia, added that the youth cannot empower themselves in the mist of helplessness. Rather, the youth should be harnessed to attain their potentials.
Ajumogobia described the book as a blueprint that touches on several issues bordering the
Nigerian youth and urged them to take advantage of their numerical strength during election.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Abdu described the book as masterpiece and that it contained many issues which centered on the current predicament of Nigerian youth and stressed that youth between 15 to 30 years are important segment of our population that cannot be ignored.
Abdu admitted that Nigerian youth have been marginalized and tasked stakeholders to harness their potentials to support the nation’s economy and in governance.