By Aaron Ossai
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has said that African nations risk dire consequences if they fail to set agenda for youth and include them in governance.
Dogara stated this at the opening of the African Regional Conference of the International Parliamentary Union- Young Parliamentarians Forum held in the National Assembly, Abuja.
The Speaker who noted that Africa has the fasted growing and most youthful population in the world, said governments cannot afford the social and political costs of neglecting the young persons.
“Any nation that fails to set an agenda for its youth must have wittingly or unwittingly outsourced that responsibility to the youths to set one for themselves and that nation should be ready to bear the dire consequences in terms of social and political costs. This is a luxury African nations cannot afford because Africa has the fastest growing and most youthful population in the world at the moment.
“Government has a duty to develop clear policies and programmes for youth development and get the young ones involved in the planning, formulation, execution and supervision as a matter of necessity and clear demonstration of government commitment in creating a tolerant and inclusive society”, he said.
The Speaker who expressed concern over the rising violence, insecurity and extremism in Africa enjoined participants at the conference to come up with recommendations that will deal with socio-political challenges in the continent.
“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 further stated.
He averred that the hopes and aspirations of Africa depend on the education and progress of the youths, and called on them to safeguard the sanctity of Africa’s democracy.
“We must not allow ourselves to be used as instruments of political or economic instability; rather every young person must wear a robe of vigilance as eternal vigilance is the price we must all pay in order to safeguard our democracy and the liberty that it offers.
“May we through a gathering like this build a sustainable force made up of young persons across the continent that would arrest our retardation and retrogression more succinctly captured in the very words of Walter Rodney as, “development of underdevelopment”. I have no doubt that the youths of Africa have the potentials to leverage on new technologies to unleash their innovative skills in order to redeem Africa economically. Indeed the hopes and aspirations of Africa depend on the quality of education and progress of its youth”, he added.