By Chuks Okocha
The minority leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, has appealed to the federal government to listen to Nigerian youth, by taking cognizance of issues that are of interest to them.
He said that it was important that government did so because youth are the leaders of tomorrow and engine of development of any nation.
He also urged government to take urgent steps to bridge the yawning employment deficit as well as decisively address all the issues bordering on demand for good governance raised in the EndSARS protest.
Elumelu spoke yesterday at the zonal and states PDP youth conference, with the theme, ” Strategizing for Massive Mobilization in Politics and Governance”
of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja.
“I am very much delighted to address you at the opening of this all-important National Conference of Zonal and States Youth Leaders of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
According to Elumelu, “All over the world, the youths are the key drivers of the economy and social life. They are the real agents of development; they bubble with productive energy and brim with new ideas for economic growth and human empowerment in all fields and they are always eager and willing to contribute.”
However, Elumelu said that “Sadly, since the last six years, under the current administration, the Nigerian youth have suffered the most dehumanizing neglect and relegation by the same set of people who exploited and used them to achieve political power.
“Everywhere you turn, you see stark hopelessness, dashed dreams, wasting talents, misery, confusion, anger, poverty, disease, hunger, starvation, homelessness, illiteracy and bare-faced despondency ravaging our youthful population, with no hope in sight under the prevailing dispensation.”
He lamented that Nigerian youth have become victims of the corruption, incompetence and insensitivity pervading the system, adding, “They have become victims of rising criminality as well as brutality of state apparatus of power.
“They directly bear the frustration of economic depression, devastated infrastructure excruciating unemployment and other challenges associated with bad governance.”, Elumelu lamented.
According to the House of Representatives Minority Leader further said, “Only last week, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) alerted that unemployment has escalated to 33.3 percent in our country, in a country where over 40 million persons, particularly the youths have lost their means of livelihood. More distressing is the fact that over 40% of our youthful population (15 to 34 years) have no jobs and no access to opportunities that abound in our country.”
Elumelu further stated, “Today, there are reports that racketeers in MDAs extort huge sums from our youths for job, most of who end up being defrauded, as no jobs are provided even after such fees have been paid.
“The EndSARS protest by our youth last year is a glimpse in the level of frustration among our youth in their quest for a better society.”, he said.
He said that the sad irony was that when youth found themselves in other climes, they are given the opportunity to participate and excel beyond measure in all fields of endeavour whereas, back home, under the present dispensation, their productive energies are rather relegated and frustrated.
In view of this, Elumelu said, “I strongly urge the Federal Government to listen to our youth, have more interest in their affairs, take urgent steps to bridge the yawning employment deficit as well as decisively address all the issues bordering on demand for good governance raised in the EndSARS protest.”
He said that Nigerians can recall that under the PDP, the rights of the youth were protected, as the youths were also allowed to fully participate in political leadership and governance even at very top levels.
According to Elumelu, “the PDP produced leaders of the National and State Assemblies, state governors, key ministers and heads of critical agencies, who were in the 30s and early 40s. Those in the private sector had unhindered access to opportunities that abound. This is no longer the reality today.”
The minority leader said that it is indeed painful to note that all the templates set up by successive PDP administrations that hitherto enhanced the development of the youth have been wreaked in a space of six years of the current administration.
He said, “I therefore want our youth leaders here to know that the task ahead is an onerous one as the entire nation and indeed the generality of the youth population look up to our party as a rallying point for solution and direction at this critical time.
“You must exert yourselves and come up with more practical options to restore the rights of our youth and redirected their productive energy towards nation building
“You must come up with strategies to massively mobilize our youth for greater political participation beyond acting as thugs and spectators to practical involvement in political leadership, contest for elective positions, party administration, policy making and governance.”, Elumelu charged the youths.