By Olasunkanmi Akoni and Nelson Alu
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has said that heightened inability to live and prosper due to the existing socio-economic and political conditions among other factors in the country is the reason for youths agitation in Nigeria, saying they have the right to demand better life and future where their ability to live and prosper is challenged.
Sanwo-Olu, made the remarks at the Lagos Youth Symposium, organised by the Ministry of Youth and Social Development, themed: “Rebuilding For Greatness, Peaceful Conflict Resolution,” held in Alausa, Ikeja.
The symposium was organized to engage over 1,500 youths drawn from various voluntary organizations, uniformed organizations, non-governmental organizations, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Lagos State Chapter, among others.
According to the governor, the primary objective is to use the platform to network and learn new ways of contributing their quota to rebuilding Lagos and achieving the greater Lagos dream.
The governor, who recalled about last year about the same period when the state and by extension the whole country, was rocked with a mass protests against police brutality, under the platform, #EndSARS, stressed that the movement saw a majority of Nigeria’s youth population participating in one of the largest movements since the country’s democratic transition in 1993.
Sanwo-Olu stated; “The protest culminated into wanton destruction of government facilities and individual properties across the nation after the riot on October 20, 2020, forever known as the “Black Tuesday.”
“This incident sparked global outrage and hoodlums took advantage of the situation and went on rampage looting and burning down destroying government properties and facilities.
“In what seems like a calculated attack, the hoodlums ravaged the city of Lagos leaving many parts of the state with burnt buildings, looted shops and destroyed properties worth billions of naira.
“The economy of the country that was already in decline due to some many factors suffered a huge setback
“Nigerian youth have many reasons to demand for a better life and future especially in a country where their ability to live and prosper is challenged by existing socioeconomic and political conditions among other factors.
“The proportion of people living in poverty continues to grow especially as COVID-19 rampage continues.
“Nigeria’s Youth make up the majority of the country’s population which means that the youths are mostly affected by these statistics of poor people.
‘’The Lagos State Government being the most hit state in the nation by the effects of the EndSARS protest and the devastating effects of COVID-19 pandemic on its economic and social status swung into decisive and impactful actions immediately so as to mitigate the effects on its populace.’’
Sanwo-Olu explained that despite the massive destruction of properties as a result of the protests and economic downturn occasioned by the COVD 19 pandemics, the state was able to cope with the challenges.
“We embarked on rebuilding the city of Lagos gradually, not only the physical structures but the citizen’s hope was also rekindled with various palliative measures.
“Of utmost importance to us as a government are the youth population of the state who formed the bulk of the population and its working force.
“We had embarked on the implementation of series of Youth engagement and empowerment activities and programmes through its various MDAs notably of which are Ministries of Wealth Creation and Employment; Arts, Tourism and Culture; Science and Technology; Agriculture; Commerce, Industry & Cooperatives and other agencies.
‘’Some of these programmes which were initiated as part of our efforts to address issues bothering on youth development and empowerment include the remodelling, development and equipping of four Youth Centres across the state namely: Abesan, Lafiaji, Ikorodu and Omituntun Youth Centres.
“We are also working on the renovation of Ikeja; Popo Oba, Epe; Isheri; Badagry; Sam Shonibare and Obele Oniwala Youth Centres.
“These facilities offer both recreational and sporting engagement as well as opportunities for skill acquisition/vocational training for youths.
“We have in partnership with USAID created two Youth Hubs at Lafiaji and Araromi Gbagada Youth Centers.
“These hubs offer leadership, livelihood and life skills to out of school youths, aged between 15–24 years.
“With this partnership, we hope to reach 25,000 young people during its 5-year tenure with soft skills, leadership competence, social capital and resources using an approach that enables them to reach their full potentials in a safe and youth-friendly environment.’’
Sanwo-Olu added that his administration has also implemented mindset changing and reorientation programmes to build the capacity of young people in the state to think positively and take up their role in nation-building.
“Some of these programmes include the Lagos State Youth Leadership Initiatives – Ibile Youth Academy which produced Youth Ambassadors that are already making waves as change makers in their communities.
“In a few days, Wednesday, October 27, 2021, to be precise we will be organizing the first of its kind Lagos Police Youth Dialogue session which will have in attendance over 1,000 Police officers and youths in the state coming together to deliberate on how to strengthen the relationship between them and create a synergy that will improve both their interaction and security situation in the state.
“Education and healthcare services are two principal things that top our budget expenditure.
“Year on year we have continued to increase our budget for the education and health sectors”.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the Lagos State University, LASU, Professor Wahab Elias who was the guest speaker, noted that conflicts are inevitable in any society, saying “it is how the conflict is managed that matters.”
Elias, urged the youths to always negotiate their demands with the authority, saying engaging in conflicts that are not progressive could destroy any society.