The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, has expressed ”deep concern” at the growing political insecurity and increased violent extremism in Africa.
He equally said that Africa was in dire need of selfless service and therefore challenged African youths to prepare themselves to ensure good governance on the continent.
Dogara said this on Wednesday in his opening remark at a two-day Africa Regional Conference for Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)-Young Parliamentarians Forum in Abuja.
The speaker said “the rising political insecurity, violent extremism and crises ravaging Africa is another issue that should be of concern to us as lawmakers.
“I want participants at this conference to carefully examine the relationship between youth unemployment/underemployment and upsurge in criminal activities, extremism and armed conflict on the continent.
“I equally crave the indulgence of delegates and other participants at this conference to not only proffer solutions to the challenges raised, but as Members of Parliaments and drivers of positive change, we must go back to our different countries with the hunger and spirit of pressing for domestication and optimal implementation of the outcomes of our deliberations at this conference,’’he said.
According to him, issues such as youth engagement and building peaceful societies, countering violent extremism, countering poverty and economic marginalization as well as eliminating inequalities and promoting good governance must be address “if we must meet the yearnings of our people’’.
The speaker stressed that Africa was in dire need of selfless leadership and urged the youth to think on how best to provide it in their countries.
He also stressed that it was pointless to fight for a political position unless one had the competence to perform in it.
He said that the youth could leverage on technology to proffer solutions to Africa’s problems, adding that issues such as violent extremism in Africa must be addressed with every sense of urgency.
Dogara also said Africa had the fastest growing youth population in the world and called on government at various levels to develop programmes for their political participation, warning that failing to do this would lead to dire social and political consequences.
The speaker admonished young persons to be sensitive to the fragile nature of democracy and not to allow themselves to be used for political thuggery.
He called on the participants to build sustainable forces within their network so as to be able to address the retrogression affecting the African continent.
Dogara said that the Nigerian parliament would continue to support youth forums in the country and urged other African parliaments to support the resolutions of the conference.
In his welcome speech, Chairman of the Young Parliamentarians Forum of Nigeria and a member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Raphael Igbokwe, advised Nigerian youths to reject people aged 35 years and above as their party leaders in the forthcoming conventions of political parties.
He said “in Nigeria, as we approach convention process for political parties, we urge forced striving to be put to election or appointment of people as youth.
“Any person above 35 years shall be resisted and Nigerian youths shall mobilise to rise against such political party.”
According to Igbokwe, there cannot be strong democracy, lasting peace or sustainable development without the contribution of young people who according to him “represent a major segment of the population in many African countries”
He advised that the legislative and government policy response to the involvement of young people in violence and conflict should not be reduced to merely security and military angles only.