The recent EndSARS protest by young people across states in Nigeria has yet again exposed the huge gap between legislations and the yearnings of young people. It is no more news that young people in Nigeria face a lot of challenges ranging from unemployment, lack of enabling environment for growth. This indeed has culminated in poverty, ignorance that usually places young people as tools for violence as restiveness remains a bane in the society. 

However, to remedy this situation, stakeholders including lawmakers, executives, Civil Society Organisations, Youth groups must play a critical role bridge existing gaps to ensure the formation of policies that fulfill the aspiration of the people.  Unfortunately, lawmakers and executives most times either are unaware of the common challenges facing young people or do not have effective solutions to address such challenges. 

Most times, the major challenge of coming to a positive consensus is lack of an equitable platform for discussion and recommendations. Also there has been an increasing need to encourage a participatory form of discussion where young people and lawmakers can come to a consensus taking inputs from young people into cognizance. 

In an effort to create this platform, Yiaga Africa recently hosted Youth Organizing and Leadership Roundtable between Youth leaders, groups, Civil Society Organisations and Youth Development Committees in the State Houses of Assembly. The event which is part of a three-year project supported by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) to mobilize young people and their organizations for progressive social change, kicked off in Ibadan, Oyo state capital. Other states include Borno, Enugu and Kaduna states with the conversation also set to be held in more states in Nigeria. 

The conversation between state lawmakers and youth groups provided an opportunity to dissect the challenges and Impact for young People now and in the future while also proffering ideas and direction for legislative action for youth responsive service delivery and development. Additionally, it provided a level playing ground for brainstorming sessions to develop insights and strategies for mobilizing young people to influence the actualization of legislative action and harness their creative energy towards youth responsive development and building an accountability regime for governance. 

According to Yiaga Africa’s Program Manager for Governance and Development, Ibrahim Faruk the conversation has fostered a relationship between young people and their lawmakers with the need to provide policies that enable young people to further contribute to national development.  During the engagement in Enugu, He also revealed that ‘Yiaga Africa and ActionAid Nigeria have identified the Committees in the State Houses of Assembly that are responsible for youth development issues are important partners and stakeholders in ensuring youth responsive legislation for service delivery and youth development’.

Most importantly, the event attracted members of committees charged with the responsibility of youth development in their various states. It is also worthy to note that principal officers in these states reiterated their commitment to youth development in their various states. 

For instance, Chairman Akwa Ibom State House Committee on Youth Sport and Security, Honorable Nse Essien said, the Youth Leadership and Organising roundtable is apt, timely and important to the committee saying Youth development is a leadership function and therefore imperative for maximum achievement of national aspiration and drive of a better future for the state and Nigeria at large.

According to him, “the recent youth agitations and the negative impact across the country highlight the need to diagnose, identify and provide lasting solutions cannot be overemphasized and therefore requires urgent attention from all fronts”.  He further reiterated the need to promote youth development through activities and experiences that help youth development youth develop social, emotional and cognitive competence. 

Similarly, Chairman, Kaduna state house of assembly committee on Youth and Sports Development Honorable Monday during the leadership organizing roundtable in the state reiterated its commitment to make youth and sports development a priority. Sharing similar thoughts during the conversation in Enugu, Honorable Chinedu Okwu said the committee on youth and sports has established a youth and empowerment commission to address the challenges of youth entrepreneurship and increase their technical and vocational skills. He further said, indeed sports is only a minute part of youth development saying youth development must be holistic moving beyond just sports. He also made a commitment that the State Assembly will enhance youth development through better legislation and policies.