By: Freda Aideyan
FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani-Aliyu, has called on Nigerian youths to see education as a tool to promote equitable and sustainable development.
The Minister, who stated this at the African Youth Day held in Abuja, also affirmed that the youth constitute an important segment of the Nigeria population, who have the ability to organise and chart a course into the future.
Speaking on the theme for this year’s African Youth Day Conference: “Pan Africanism; Youth as a Panacea for Achieving the Africa We Want”, Tijjani-Aliyu stressed that youth must collectively begin to address some of the developmental challenges of the continent in readiness for the attainment of the African Union dream of transforming Africa into a global power house of inclusive socioeconomic development by 2063.
Her words:”Africa is faced with a double-edged sword in the form of a youth bulge. We have a population typified by a low median age, high fertility rates, low skilled manpower, and nature-dependent economic activities.”
“To unlock the demographic dividends accruable from such a young population, we must see education as a tool not only to unleash human potentials, but also to promote equitable and sustainable development, while also addressing the challenges that may emanate, including that of Africa’s political economy in the context of threats of unipolar world imposition,” she stressed.
The Minister commended President Muhammadu Buhari for declaring November 1, every year, as National Youth Day in line with global best practices.
Tijjani-Aliyu said the National Youth day has been set aside to highlight the problems, achievements and prospects of youth participation in the development of Nigeria with a view to evolving programmes and take actions for improvement.
While noting that poverty and unemployment as prominent factors that drive youths to violent extremism and crime, she stated that governments have taken measures to mitigate these challenges.
According to her, “the Federal Government has, since 2015, initiated programmes aimed at ameliorating socioeconomic vulnerabilities, especially amongst women and youth.
“Some of these include the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP), the 75 Billion Naira Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) and several other empowerment and soft loan schemes available to youth entrepreneurs to enhance wealth creation”, Tijjani-Aliyu added.
The Minister, therefore, called on the youths, parents, civil society, and other actors at local levels to support the government and take advantage of the available facilities to promote youth development and positive change.