By Yomi Oyelami
It was a highly engaging session yesterday aimed at bridging the gap in governance when ministries and agencies of Lagos state met with youth leaders drawn from different spheres to look at the successes and challenges in the outgoing year in order to fashion out modalities for the years ahead, Yomi Oyelami of Trek Africa Newspaper Reports. The occasion was Lagos State Governance Builders Independent Group (LASGOBIG)’s Eko Youth Eagles Summit.
Organized with the partnership of RAK Development Foundation, the conference was themed ‘Soar in a New World Reality by Maximizing Youth Potentials’.
Addressing youths gathered at the event by his speech, the Lagos State Commissioner for Youths and Social Development, Mr. Olusegun Dawodu noted: ‘We are committed to the actualization of this cause and in view of this, I welcome the suggestions on how to mobilize youths to move Lagos state forward. We are aware of some of the challenges youths are faced with but I can assure you as a government under the youth-friendly Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, we are putting more structures in place to accommodate more youths. In 2021, we have been able to embark on different initiatives and programmes. We are hopeful that the following year will be better.’
Various ministries and agencies of Lagos State took their turns to give an account of the youth-inclusive programmes and activities they have embarked upon in the course of the outgoing year. Representatives of the various ministries include Mrs. Kehinde Taiwo from Ministry of Justice; Mr. Philip from Ministry of Tourism; Owolabi Victoria and Oluranti Akinlosotu from Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Co-operatives; Engr. Toriola from Ministry of Transportation; among others. They gave presentations on how their ministries and agencies have impacted the millions of youths based in Lagos and Nigeria at large. The team of youth leaders who attended also had the opportunity to check the reality of the projects and activities based on a printed scorecard and also by asking questions.
Speaking on the intents of the conference, Mobolaji Ogunlende, the founder of RAK Development Foundation who is also a partner on the project said: ‘I like to call it a dialogue. It is an engagement between ministries and the youths. It is to showcase what the ministries have been doing so that the youth leaders can take back to their various communities.’
‘We all know the government cannot do it alone. At the same time, they are doing a lot. One of the submissions from the panelists is that the ministries need to create more awareness and make their initiatives and activities known to the general public. They have also given the youths an opportunity to also see and criticize them, to spur them, and also tell them what they can do better. One of the submissions from the ministries is that if the youths are not engaging them, they would not know what the youth wants and if they don’t know what the youth wants, they won’t know what to put in the budget for the government.’
‘This sort of interaction and dialogue is a win-win for both the ministries and the youths. At the same time, it also gives everybody an opportunity to get access to information as to what is being done and how they can benefit from it’, the youth advocate concluded.
On his part, the PRO of Lagos State Governance Builders Independent Group (LASGOBIG), Emmanuel Amuwo noted: ‘You will agree with me that things are not the same anymore for Nigerian youths. Many have lost hope, millions are bitter, they no longer believe in that country they were so proud of while growing up. The strength to keep going is gone causing many to resort to all kinds of escape routes which are mostly illegal ways.’
Sharing on the capacity of Nigeria’s burgeoning youth population, a panelist, Mr. Shola Adegberioye affirmed: ‘We have strength on our side. We have population on our side. We have entrepreneurship skills on our side. But success does not come without discipline. There is not entitlement. It is a privilege. If we are to change anything, we have to get to work. I hope we get our acts together. Get involved.’
Another panelist, Mrs. Titilayo Omotayo Alade remarked: ‘Without our history, we can’t make a good plan of out future. Social media is a strategic instrument that we can use to impact our nation. The pandemic put a lot of countries into impoverishment but some people also became millionaires and billionaires. As Nigerian youths, what did we come out of the pandemic with? The pandemic started in China and we saw the economy of China nosediving but today, we all have this nose mask. They turned their misfortune to fortune.’
‘We had Endsars last year and we saw the potentials of Nigerian youths even though people are not happy with the aftermath but it shows that Nigerian youths are a force to reckon with. No matter what good plans you have, without discipline, you are not going anywhere.’
Some youth observers also spoke. The All Progressives Congresss (APC) youth leader, Seriki Muritala commented on two issues, ‘we have a poor diversity. We have a lot of activities but a lot of people out there are not aware. We should try to get this information down to the grassroots. We have to have a proper data system which we can say that come 2022, this is what Lagos State Government is doing, this is what private sector is doing to empower youths.’
The General Secretary of Junior Chambers International (JCI) added: ‘As much as the government and private sector are trying to be able to make the youths as inclusive as possible, JCI in its little way have tried to gather youths together to get them interested in governance and also grow in entrepreneurship and leadership.’