April 17, 2024

We haven’t fully addressed #EndSARS issues – Youth minister


File photo

By Luminous Jannamike, ABUJA

Minister of State for Youth Development, Mr. Ayodele Olawande, has called for increased youth engagement in Nigeria, saying a significant gap in political awareness among the younger demographic.

The minister voiced his concerns to the members of the Senior Executive Course 46, 2024 from the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, Plateau State, who were on a study tour at the Ministry of Youth Development.

The visit aimed to gather insights and develop strategies for the integration of the digital economy, youth empowerment, and sustainable job creation in Nigeria.

“Many youths in this country struggle to distinguish between a Senator and a House of Representatives member.

“Today, the issue of police brutality is at the forefront,” Mr. Olawande said.

He underscored the importance of equipping the youth with knowledge to defend their rights, emphasizing the necessity of what he refers to as ‘aggressive engagement’ at the local level.

The minister drew connections to the #EndSARS movement, acknowledging that the underlying issues have yet to be fully resolved.

Reflecting on the #EndSARS protests, he said, “It becomes apparent that we haven’t fully addressed the issues. I participated in the protests, albeit from the outside, advocating for an end to police brutality. We, the former youth, knew our rights and protested, hoping the government would heed our calls.”

However, he lamented the lack of ongoing engagement with those affected by the subsequent upheaval when the protests were overtaken by disruptions.

“The consequences for the country when the protests were hijacked by hoodlums were severe, yet today, no one engages with these individuals,” the Minister added.

Mr. Olawande also addressed the critical role of skill acquisition in the digital economy. He stressed the importance of communicating to young Nigerians that there are legitimate means to earn a living from home, which do not involve cybercrime.

According to him, this point is particularly salient in a nation brimming with young, tech-savvy individuals.

In a passionate declaration of commitment to youth development, the minister said, “I firmly believe we can still propel this country forward. I told myself that if I don’t take action now, in my 30s as a minister and a member of this generation, then I have failed.”

He then highlighted the ‘One Youth, Two Skills’ initiative, which has evolved into the Nigeria Youth Academy, aimed at fostering skills and creating opportunities for young Nigerians.

Barrister Nima Salman Mann, the leader of the NIPSS delegation, emphasized the significance of the Ministry’s role in this year’s theme, which focuses on leveraging the digital economy for sustainable job creation.

“We are with the Ministry of Youth to listen to what you are doing to help the youth, how you are doing it, strategic plans and way forward,” she said, acknowledging the necessity for innovative approaches to empower the youth and harness the potential of the digital age for economic growth.