International Youth Day: Gbajabiamila, Atiku argue for youth participation in governance 

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File: A collage photo of Nigeria's Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila on Wednesday joined youths from across the country in a webinar to commemorate the 2020 International Youth Day.

In his remarks, the Speaker, while quoting former South African President Nelson Mandela, said: ‘’We must recognize the contributions young people make to our society and build upon the imagination, energy, vibrancy and talents of these our precious national assets’’.

Speaker Gbajabiama stressed that it is an obvious imperative for Nigeria that has “a massive and ever-growing youth bulge” to build its youth.

“Our country will not reach its full potentials until governments at all levels engage with the changing values, needs, and expectations of Nigeria’s youth.

“All our dreams of prosperity hinge on our ability to provide the physical infrastructure, the legal framework, the cultural and social support required to unleash the innovative potential of our young people”, he said.

Speaking further on how to achieve a profound transformation of governance, the Speaker urged those in government and politics to “commit to opening the political space to allow for greater participation by our nation’s youth.

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“My fellow young men and women, I know that on many of the issues that affect our lives, it would appear as if the political leaders have left the room and there is no one left to find solutions to our problems.

“This feeling is at the root of much of the pessimism that young people feel about our politics and has had a negative effect on the willingness of our able youth to get involved in the critical conversations about our nation’s future.

“However, if we all end up thinking that politics is the preserve of the cynical and the mercenary, then nobody will ever believe the political process can change anything or be improved to meet our collective best expectations”, Gbajabiamila emphasised.

He therefore challenged Nigerian youths to resist “the seductive draw of such debilitating cynicism.

“The future belongs to you and
I congratulate all our young people on this year’s commemoration of the International Youth Day”, the Speaker added.

‘I Shall Continue To Offer My Shoulders For You To Climb,’ Atiku Tells Nigerian Youths

Similarly, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has assured Nigerian youths of his commitment to supporting them at all times.

File photo of former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar.

In a message to cmemorate the 21st International Youth Day (IYD), which holds every 12th of August, Atiku said: “I shall stay the course and continue to offer my shoulders for you all to climb because as youths, you are Leaders of Today”.

While he commended Nigerian youths for their doggedness and drive towards a better nation, Atiku noted that the theme for the 2020 IYD commemoration, “Youth Engagement for Global Action,” captures the important role of young people in the scheme of things.

“I salute the Nigerian youth in particular for their commitment and perseverance towards the attainment of a greater Nigeria,” Atiku added.

“This global picture, which has been on my mind, informed my decision of 40% youth inclusion in my 2019 presidential campaign; a promise I am committed to keeping for the futuristic benefit of our great Nation.”

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“Indeed, the survival of humanity rests largely on the shoulders of the youths, as vigour is required to wear out this plague,” the former vice president explained.

“The vigour and spirit that you embody as youth will play a crucial role in the socio-economic survival of the world, and its rejuvenation, post-COVID19.”

The former Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) charged that as future leaders, young people should preach and embrace peace, patriotism, and promote competence thereby shuning nepotism.

“Only then can we truly have the Nigeria of our dream,” he said.

According to the United Nations (UN), the 2020 International Youth Day theme is to further emphasise 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.”

Tobiloba Kolawole