Juliet Akoje in Akoje
The House of Representatives and the Ministry of Youths and Sports Development have disagreed over the establishment of the National Youth Development Commission.
At a public hearing yesterday on the bill for a law to establish the commission in Abuja, the House through the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, said it was necessary and would engender youth participation in governance.
However, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, who was represented by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr. Ismail Abubakar, said it would only amount to duplication of duties of other government agencies and waste of public funds.
Gbajabiamila said the bill was unanimously passed when it came up on the floor because of the importance the National Assembly places on the significant role the youth have in nation building.
He said for the youths to be at the table of conversations and discussions that surround the development of Nigeria, certain actions have to be taken and one of them is the passage of this bill and the establishment of the National Youth Development Commission.
“The Nigerian youths make up a significant majority of our population. They are our nation’s present and future. As such, all governing actions and policy priorities must ensure that our young people can dream big dreams and achieve grand ambitions. This includes ensuring that they have access to quality education and training to develop the skills required in the modern economy,” he said, adding that the bill is an effort by the House of Representatives to advance policy recommendations to establish a framework for coordinating a national strategy for promoting the social, economic and political advancement of the nation’s youth.
But Dare said that the proposed bill would automatically take away the functions and responsibilities of at least three departments of the ministry if passed as presently formulated.
The minister, through his representative, said the affected departments would be Network and Social Mobilisation Department, Education and Youth Development Department, and Enterprise Development and Promotion Department.
He urged the House to note that the statutory functions of the concerned departments of the ministry as well as some aspects of the responsibilities of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) are basically the same.
“The implication would be that there would be duplication of functions and responsibilities of this department as well as substantial functions of the NYSC if the bill is eventually passed into law. This is completely at variance with the present administration policy thrust of cutting expenditure on public administration in favour of development projects. This scenario would not be healthy for the ministry, the NYSC and the entire nation at the moment, owing to the economic reality in Nigeria. Therefore the NASS is invited to note that contemplating the creation of this commission when the nation is trying to grapple with other serious contending issues would be counterproductive.