The Baywood Foundation has unveiled a new titled Beyond rhetoric: Youth empowerment and political voice in Nigeria to urge youths to move beyond the rhetoric of being leaders of tomorrow to taking charge today.
The book, presented at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos last Friday, was reviewed by Prof. Patricia Donli of the University of Maiduguri, who described it as “timely and fantastic with a historical background calling for action and change for youths.”
Describing the book, which contains 18 chapters, as arriving at a decisive period in Nigeria’s history, Donli said, “The youths should not expect everything on a platter of gold. They must fight for what is due them. The book is a must read for all as it cites opportunities on how youths can build a strong generational identity consciousness.”
On his part, the Keynote Speaker, Dr Hussaini Abdu, said the title of the book identified Nigerian youths as the most important members of the society, without which the nation cannot progress.
Abdu, who is the Country Director of Plan International, Abuja, also stressed that for youths to have a voice, a strong youth policy that is connected with the national development plan and policy framework must be developed.
He said, “Africa’s greatest asset is the youth population. The youths are the most important people in Africa and without them, Africa cannot progress. We must begin to empower the young population because they have the number and can easily form their own government if they unite. We need to liberalise the political system. Nigeria is not progressing because young people are not in power and the reason is due to large misconceptions about them. As the book aptly suggests, young people are doing excellent innovative work that we have refused to capture.”
The author of the book, Chris Baywood Ibe, described the book as a total departure from the ‘all-talk and no-action’ approach to the challenges faced by the Nigerian youth, as he offered solutions that go beyond rhetoric.
Listing joblessness, misery, examination malpractice, violence, HIV/AIDS, cultism and sexual promiscuity as some of the challenges youths face, Ibe said the challenges have continued because the youths have no voice in the decisions taken on issues that concern them.
He said, “No one needs to be told that dealing with the enormity of these challenges facing youths in the country cannot be achieved by mere rhetoric. The solution lies in decisive actions that are backed and given teeth by law and relevant legislation. The solution lies in the affirmative action for the youth-driven particularly at decision-making levels in government. Today, we witnessed the efforts to answer these questions by scholars who are conversant with the issues and concerns youths and need for their voices to be heard in political decision-making.”
The event was attended by Mr Odein Ajumogobia, the Vice-Chancellor of Caleb University, Prof. Diji Aina and members of civil society organisations, as well as youths from various tertiary institutions across the country.