By Ahmed Mohammed Sule
It is estimated that 60 percent of the total population of Nigeria are under the age of 25 years. Meaning that the large constituent of the country’s population is youth, making Nigeria the youngest country in Africa. This is a huge figure and vital segment of the country that cannot be overlooked or neglected.
If democratic politics is about number, certainly, this portion of the Nigerian population cannot and should not be seen and treated with kid glove, but accorded the necessary care and attention in view of their numerical strength and significance in achieving political victory.
The minister designate of the youth ministry, Dr. Jamila Bio Ibrahim, having this believe and understanding at the back of her mind, is poised to put things right for the growth and development of the Nigerian youth as well as in the overall interest of the country.
Having been duly screened and confirmed by the Senate, the Minister designate now awaits to take the oath of office formally, expected to be administered by no other person than the country’s number one citizen, His Excellency, President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, GCFR and Commander-In-Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Expectedly and hopefully too, she will be working towards fulfilling the expectations of Nigerians, and in particular, the youth on the following key critical components of youth development of the country.
First and foremost, is to acquaint herself with the environment and terrain that constitute vital elements in youth care and development in the country. And of course, using the compass of the President Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Mantra in wholistically moving this country forward and on the path of greatness in the comity of global nations.
Against the background of the 8-point Agenda of the Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s administration which includes ab initio; Food Security, Ending Poverty, Job Creation, Growing the Economy, Accessibility to Capital, Improving Security, Providing an enabling Environment and Level Playing Field for Companies to do Business, Observance of Rule of Law and Fight Against Corruption, much is being placed on the plate of the incoming Minster and her Minster of State to tend to.
Interestingly, the Youth Ministry, in the discharge of its mandate has important roles to play in all the 8-Point Agenda listed above which goes to prove the enormous tasks that await the two Ministers as well as the justification of not only creating a stand-alone Ministry of Youth, but that of having two Ministers; The Main Minister – Dr. Jamila Bio Ibrahim and a Minister of State – Mr. Ayodele Olawande.
To key into the 8-Point Agenda of the administration, the Minister and her Minister of state have the task of addressing the main thrust of the Policy guideline on youth development in the country as contain in the National Policy document on Youth which is a declaration and commitment that the country intends to achieve for the development of its teeming young population.
This undoubtedly refers to the general creation of the enabling environment for the youth to maximally explore and realize their creative and productive potentials in all facets of human endeavour.
Achieving this, the Ministry will generally have to rely on critical areas of intervention to include;
*Commitment to human capital development with special emphasis on the country’s vibrant youth.
*Provision of equal opportunity to the Nigeria youth irrespective of their background.
*Ensure the Nigerian youth live in a safe and secure environment.
*Protection of the fundamental human rights of all the youth.
*Enhancement of the participation of the youth in every sphere of national development processes.
Against the background that youth are not a homogeneous group in terms of needs and circumstances, appropriate interventions to adequately address the specific and special needs of each of several identified target groups is highly desirous. These are; Productive Workforce and Sustainable Economic Engagement of Youth: Give them appropriate quality education and skills development.
Health and Health-Promoting Lifestyle: Through appropriate health systems and supportive social sector actions and health-related behaviour in physical, social, mental, and spiritual well-being of the youth.
Inclusive participation and equitable opportunities for all Youth: Address barriers to meaningful youth engagement in civil and political affairs.
Promote and Protect a healthy Environment for Youth Development: Ensure an enabling environment that is supportive of optimal development of youth.
Partnership-building and effective collaboration: Enhance cooperation, collaboration and synergy among all stakeholders as well as sustain the inter-sectoral and multi-sectoral dynamics of youth development.
Creating employment opportunities: Implementing policies and programs aimed at generating more job opportunities for Nigerian youth, including promoting entrepreneurship and supporting small and medium enterprises.
Enhancing skills development: Establishing vocational training programs and initiatives to equip young Nigerians with relevant skills for the job market, focusing on emerging industries and sectors.
Promoting quality education: Ensuring access to quality education for all Nigerian youth, improving educational infrastructure, and enhancing curriculum to align with the needs of the modern workforce.
Encouraging innovation and technology: Supporting innovation hubs and tech incubators to foster entrepreneurship and harness the potential of Nigerian youth in technology and innovation-driven sectors.
Youth empowerment and inclusion: Developing strategies that empower youth to actively participate in decision-making processes, promoting inclusivity, and creating platforms for youth engagement in governance and policy-making.
Addressing youth unemployment: Implementing targeted programs to address the high rate of youth unemployment, such as internships, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training initiatives.
Investing in sports and entertainment: Recognizing the potential of the Nigerian youth in sports and entertainment industries, providing necessary infrastructure, training, and support to nurture talent and promote economic growth in these sectors.
Strengthening youth participation in agriculture: Creating opportunities and support mechanisms for young Nigerians to engage in agriculture and agribusiness, aiming to increase food production, enhance food security, and create employment.
Addressing social challenges: Developing strategies to tackle social issues affecting Nigerian youth, such as substance abuse, crime, and mental health, through prevention programs, awareness campaigns, and accessible healthcare services.
Collaboration and partnerships: Fostering collaborations with national and international stakeholders, including private sector organizations, civil society groups, and development partners, to leverage resources and expertise in achieving youth development goals.
In the end, what is key in the underlying efforts of the Youth Ministers is meeting the needs and aspirations of the Nigerian people and the nation. And the most important assets of the country is the youth population and the potentially huge human capital that is inherent therein. This explains President Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s vision and the Renewed Hope Agenda hinged on the idea of harnessing the human capital of the Nigerian youth to achieve growth, development and prosperity for all.
* Ahmed, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja.