Speaker Gbajabiamila Commiserates With Youths On International Youth Day
REMARKS BY THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REP. FEMI GBAJABIAMILA ON THE OCCASION OF THE COMMEMORATION OF THE 2020 INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY. WEDNESDAY, 12TH AUGUST 2020. #IYD2020
In his lifetime, President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, asked of citizens and policymakers thus: ‘’We must recognize the contributions young people make to our society. We must build upon the imagination, energy, vibrancy and talents of these our precious national assets’’.
This is an obvious imperative, more so in a country like ours with a massive and ever-growing youth bulge.
Yet, often when I imagine what it must feel like to be a young person coming of age in Nigeria today, I think about the challenges that limit promise. I think of the opportunities that exist near enough to see but too far to grasp, and the compounding daily indignities that have left an entire generation unable to conceive of a viable future for themselves in the land of their birth.
Our country will not reach its full potentials until governments at all levels learn to engage with the changing values, needs, and expectations of Nigeria’s youth.
All our dreams of prosperity hinge on our ability to provide the physical infrastructure, the legal framework, the cultural and social support required to unleash the innovative potential of our young people.
To achieve this sort of profound transformation of our governance, all of us in government and politics must commit to opening the political space to allow for greater participation by our nation’s youth.
Political leaders must act now and consistently to dismantle those practices and systems that serve only to exclude young people from political participation, or that limit them to operating on the fringes as foot soldiers in the battle for spoils.
I have seen with my own eyes what young people, educated, and dedicated, can achieve if given the opportunity and the resources they need to thrive.
The simple truth remains that we cannot continue to confront and try to overcome the daunting challenges we face as a nation while denying ourselves of the passion and perspective of the young people who will inherit whatever we make of this our beloved country.
My fellow young men and women, I know that on many of the issues that affect our lives, it would appear as if the political leaders have left the room and there is no one left to find solutions to our problems. This feeling is at the root of much of the pessimism that young people feel about our politics and has had a negative effect on the willingness of our able youth to get involved in the critical conversations about our nation’s future.
However, if we all end up thinking that politics is the preserve of the cynical and the mercenary, then nobody will ever believe the political process can change anything or be improved to meet our collective best expectations.
Therefore, you must resist the seductive draw of such debilitating cynicism. Do not concede any more ground to those loud voices of regression who seek to convince you that nothing you do can be enough and therefore, there is no need to try.
The future belongs to you, and you cannot surrender your destiny to those who remain captive to the dark perspectives and predatory politics that defines so much of our nation’s past.
I congratulate all our young people on this year’s commemoration of the International Youth Day. I ask you not to lose faith in our country or yourselves. Remain steadfast in your commitment to personal development, preparing yourselves to rise to and overcome the challenges that abound.
I pray for God’s favour on you as you march on with love and courage towards a future of peace and prosperity beyond everything we can only now imagine.
God bless you all, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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