By Funmi Ogundare
The Chairman, Baywood Foundation, Emperor Ibe Baywood has said instead of blaming the youths for vices such as kidnapping, armed robbery, malpractice, violence, HIV/AIDS, cultism and sexual promiscuity, they should be given the power to be involved in policy making decisions that will shape their future, which is the case in developed countries.
He argued that if the country refuses to accept that its youths are solid assets for future growth, it will miss the opportunity to capitalise on the huge potential.
Baywood, who said this recently at the launch of his book, ‘Beyond Rhetoric’ in Lagos, said: “We blame youths for kidnapping, theft and other vices, but we have not given them enough chance to show their talents and capacities. Worse still, they have no voice in the decisions taken over things that concern them. Yet many of them have remained resolute in keeping up with the fight; a fight against a system that seems to have forgotten that they exist.”
He said the book is his contribution to humanity, adding that it responds to this anomaly by offering solutions that go beyond the usual talk-shows the country is known for as a talking nation with no action.
“The book is challenging the mere rhetorics of Nigerians and giving a solution which lies in the ‘affirmative action.No one needs to be told that dealing with the enormity of these challenges bedevilling the youth cannot be achieved by mere rhetoric. The solution lies on decisive actions that are backed and given teeth by law and relevant legislations.”
In his remarks, the Vice-Chairman, Agric Business Group, Chief Emmanuel Ijewere appealed to Nigerian youths to rise and take advantage of opportunities around them with the intent of reforming the country.
He said if youths want representation in the polity, they shouldn’t just sit and wait for things to happen, but ensure they take action.
He regretted that those who are already at the helm of affairs in the country have failed to give up power to youths. This he said is why the country is still following the old order.
“No-one will willingly relinquish power to the youths, you need to grab it. Ask yourselves, in 2019, do we want to continue with the old order? Nobody will give you anything. Youths have to make it clear that failure to invest in them, there is no future.”
He said the President of France, Emmanuel Macron wouldn’t have succeeded if his fellow youths didn’t stand to support him, adding that the youths should seek counsel and take advantage of it to reform Nigeria. “Countries did not rely on affirmative action but on direct actions,” Ijewere who was Chairman of the occasion said.
In his keynote address titled ‘Between Essentialisms and Despondency’, the Country Director, Plan Internal, Abuja, Dr. Hussaini Abdul, who said he has been involved in youth issues in the past 10 years, noted that issues concerning them have been key conversation globally.
He regretted the huge misconception and fallacies about youths, saying that they have been criminalised and marginalised and that political parties have failed to give them the platform to make progress. “Youths have become mainstream in conversation but not mainstream in development discourse.”
The book reviewer, Professor Patricia Dali said affirmative action can always be merged with direct action to give youths opportunities to take leadership positions.