GOODWILL MESSAGE BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE 4TH SESSION OF THE NIGERIAN YOUTH PARLIAMENT HELD AT THE SENATE BUILDING, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY COMPLEX, ABUJA, ON JANUARY 24, 2019
1. It gives me great pleasure to be at the Inauguration of the 4th Session of the Nigerian Youth Parliament organised by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development in collaboration with the National Assembly. I welcome all youth representatives as well as stakeholders present to this laudable initiative. I must commend the organising committee of the Nigerian Youth Parliament and the Speaker of this 4th session for staying the course in ensuring the continuous relevance and realisation of the vision and mission of this Youth Parliament since its inception in 2008.
2. I believe we have all gathered here today in support and furtherance of our shared belief in the role of the Nigerian youth in our country’s political space. With a staggering ratio of about 3:1 and a projected population in excess of 190 million Nigerian Youths under 30 by the Year 2033, we are left in no doubt as high expectation and responsibility ahead for this incoming generation.
3. For this reason, it is important that we evolve new approaches, new techniques, and most importantly a reorientation mechanism that shapes the thinking and productiveness of our teeming youth towards gainful and inclusive participation in governance.
4. This being said, we are at a crucial point in the global order where the development of the required skill-sets is no more secondary but imperative. We cannot be looking to gainfully participate in the world if we don’t embrace new ideas in Information Technology, Health, Agriculture, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Finance and Economy, Security and Intelligence, Transportation and Logistics, Education and Artificial Intelligence, to name a few. Understanding some of these factors, including their limitations and guiding policies for our consumption, also plays a very crucial role in the same politics and governance that you are clamouring for today.
5. The National Assembly has been able to pass key laws , if implemented as envisaged, can pilot the nation’s affairs and prepare the ground for this inclusive participation. I make bold to say our efforts in youth affairs, the economy including agriculture and local production, health including primary healthcare interventions, education sector and a host of others, are self-evident.
6. Interestingly, a key bill – namely the Electoral Amendment Bill – that would have plugged loopholes in our system, especially in light of the general elections, to ensure the right participation of our youths, was passed by the National Assembly but refused presidential assent. It must be said that this Bill was intended to provide a framework that ensures equitable electoral process where the margin of marginalisation is reduced to the barest minimum.
7. This is why, as students of history, we must ensure that we learn from our past mistakes so as not to repeat them. A predilection for infighting, thuggery and vote buying should be shunned and abhorred by your organisation especially in these relatively early years in your political engagement.
8. We cannot talk about future and involvement in politics and governance unless we begin to deepen issues surrounding the elections. Pursuant to this, the Not Too Young to Run Act is now an established platform that lends credence to the worth ambition and aspiration of the Nigerian youth. Moreover, the Nigerian Youth Parliament is here to ensure an equitable mobilisation of youths in governance matters across the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
9. It is therefore important we note that the expected activities of next month are a referendum on your future. Inevitably, youth participation will have to evolve from haphazard roles of an often compromising nature and illegal political mobilisation – towards more active and positive participation. This, in my opinion, is the fastest path to achieving that future that you can truly claim as yours.
10. The Speaker of the 4th session of the Nigerian Youth Parliament, Ayodele Obe and other members are indeed worthy of commendation for their able and committed leadership at this crucial time. I would also like to congratulate the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Solomon Dalung, for the successful realisation of this inauguration event for the 4th session of the Nigerian Youth Parliament.
11. It is my hope that the gains of this process can be sustained and further entrenched in the hearts and minds of our youths as a way of preparing them for the journey to a greater tomorrow. I wish you a successful session.
PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE