As Deputy Speaker, Dandaura says bill’ll change narrative
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As youths are said to be national assets and leaders of tomorrow but are cramped with various challenges leading to various agitations including the recent EndSARS protest in order to have their place and space in national development and governance, ActionAid Nigeria, Friday, threw weight behind the Nasarawa State Youth Development Commission Bill sponsored by the Deputy Speaker of Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Nehemiah Dandaura.
Speaking at the ‘Advocacy Roundtable with Nasarawa State House of Assembly Members on the Nasarawa Youth Development Commission Bill’, in Abuja, the Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi, represented by Director, Organizational Effectiveness, ActionAid Nigeria, Funmi Oyefusi, in an address said youths need a legal framework for proper engagement, empowerment, and development, more than ever.
Obi further pointed out that the Bill when passed into law will address all basic social vices that make youths vulnerable to radicalization and violent extremism.
She said: “Let me also appreciate the House for the support given to this laudable bill, the Nasarawa Youth Development Commission Bill, which has gone through the first reading before the floor of the house.
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“I say this because Nasarawa State Youth today, require a legal framework for proper engagement, empowerment, and development, more than ever.
“Over time, there have been series of a continued efforts by government and other development partners in carrying out various youth empowerment and development initiates in Nasarawa State.
“ActionAid remains committed to addressing the deepening inequality in Nigeria and ensuring a peaceful environment for development in Nasarawa State and Nigeria in general.
“The Youth Development Commission when established as is being planned in Kogi State, being the first state in Nigeria to have such law in place, will provide a framework for structured youth engagement which would strengthen the State Government’s efforts and those of other development partners in ensuring that Nasarawa state youth receive all the necessary political and policy backing to engender their continued role in governance.
Thereby, addressing all basic social vises that makes youth vulnerable to radicalization and violent extremism.”
She also expressed optimism and said that “I am convinced that the future of Nasarawa Youth will be guaranteed by legislation from the House during this political dispensation as we believe that the Youth Bill will receive an accelerated hearing, just like the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law, that has positioned the State as a gender-friendly State.
“I call on you today to write you names in Gold by ensuring the passage of the bill, as we look forward to supporting the public hearing soon.”
But, the AAN boss noted and stated that given the lack of political will to drive the process, while there has also been a diverse calls for youth integration and involvement in decision making and peacebuilding youths are not being carried along in most States in the scheme of things.
“This has however not been structured or monitored closely for effectiveness and efficiency, given lack of political will to drive the process, while there has also been diverse call for youth integration and involvement in decision making and peacebuilding”, she stated.
Meanwhile, the sponsor of the Bill, Deputy Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Nehemiah Tsentse Dandaura, explained that youths in Nasarawa State have been a top priority to him even before he became a State lawmaker, because of his concern, passion, and intimacy with them.
According to him he thought of what that would add value to thousands of young people in the State which will address youth restiveness, unemployment, and access to quality education, and also reduce all forms of criminality across the State, hence his vision and motivation to sponsor the Nasarawa Youth Development Commission Bill.
“I am a youth-friendly legislator, when you look at my campaign structure, it’s full of youths when I was going out people were wondering why I was dealing only with youths.
“On that note, I felt that I owe the youths a big responsibility to see how I can do programs that will better their lives. So I sat down, so many bills came to me but I have thought of that and I related it to what recently happened in Nigeria, the EndSARS protest. If we could have something like a commission that will have to do with youth activities it will alleviate poverty and a lot of problems, most of them will be engaged.
“Looking round the society you see that youths are graduating everyday and all these youths are floating the streets and I feel that if the youth Commission bill is signed and passed into law it will cut down a lot of these issues by empowering them and by way of relieving the youth sector from unemployment and engaging them in different areas of human endeavors.
“And at the time I started this thing, I didn’t know even the action aid, I didn’t know any of the organization. It was when they got to know that I was doing something like that, they came towards me.
“Last year we had a very busy year that was why the second reading was not possible. But the second reading was proposed for 15th December but we didn’t take it because there were so many bills that came from the state government. So I am sure anytime soon we will take the second reading of the bill.
“Hopefully we might take it upper week and if we take it upper week it will be already in March and I’m sure within March it can be passed because public hearing will not take time, I will try to facilitate the public hearing so that we can round up and pass the bill”, he stated.
Speaking on the support of the Bill from the Executive he said, “Incidentally, the Governor is from my town, local government and I have time to talk with him. What I do is that everything I want to do I talk to him in advance.
“The youths are seriously mobilizing, and in fact, during the mentioning of the bill in the house. And I believe during the second hearing of the bill we will meet with them again because they are monitoring me. I think that is what will give the house the impression that this bill has the attention and they will have nothing to support it.
Meanwhile, the Resilience Programme Coordinator, ActionAid Nigeria, Anicetus Atakpu, said the NasarawaYouth Commission Bill is a bill that is dear to ActionAid as they focus also on youths, hence their support and commitment to it.
“Mostly it is a bill that addresses the key primary tribal extremism as identified by our project we are working on preventing violent extremism centered around unemployment, illiteracy and marginalization and this is centred around the provisions of the Bill.
“And if the bill is passed into law it will address some salient issues of job creation and we will be able to harness opportunities and will create an opportunity for development partners and spirited individuals to come to create jobs and give an opportunity for investments in the state so that will address issues of unemployment.
“And the bill also gives an opportunity for the establishment of technical schools across each senatorial district, now that in its own is a big win for everyone because illiteracy is not all about been educated in the western education but also your ability to utilize the skills, your given talent.
“That will address that issue of illiteracy, which people will also be able to fend for themselves and still addressing the issue of unemployment because if you do a technical school you will be able to create a job for yourself and even for others.
“Then the issue of marginalization, the bill also gives an opportunity for constructive engagement of youths politically and in decision making. Such that youths will have quota in political appointment the Commission will be able to push for youth involvement in any platform committee, agency, sub-committee the state will want to set up”, Atakpu stated.
He further explained that “For example, the State will want to set up any committee the commission will ensure so the Commission will be like the eyes of the youths so that feeling of marginalization will also be addressed.
“Basically we can have that structure, it’s not as if these things are not happening in pockets of areas but it’s not structured, you cannot get one place that can give you the information.
“Can any ministry give an account of all that is been done for the youths? That is one gap that is missing, that if such a commission is established it will be able to address it. That issue of marginalization can also be addressed through structured engagement.”