THE ROLE OF YOUTHS TOWARDS ACTUALIZING THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS IN NIGERIA. BEING TEXT OF PAPER DELIVERED BY HER EXCELLENCY, PRINCESS ADEJOKE ORELOPE ADEFULIRE, SENIOR SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AT THE CAPACITY BUILDING TRAINING FOR 36 STATES DESK OFFICERS AND THE FCT IN-CHARGE OF THE AUGUST PROJECT (TAP) AN INITIATIVE OF UNESCO READ AND EARN FEDERATION HELD ON 3RD APRIL, 2017 AT ASOKORO, ABUJA.
It is indeed my honour and pleasure to be in your midst today as the Special Guest Speaker of Honour for this in this event and to present this paper on the; Role of Youths Towards Actualising the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria. I welcome you all to this unique capacity building training of Desk officers in-charge of ‘The August Project’ (TAP) from the 36 States of the Federation and FCT. May I seize this opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the effort, partnership, collaboration and support of all development partners, especially the International ones like the UNESCO towards the actualization of the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria.
- It is no longer news that Nigeria has adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) alongside other countries in the United Nations. President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, was among the 189 Heads of States and Governments that attended and adopted the 17 goals and 169 targets of the SDGs in September 2015, at the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the SDGs were said to be unprecedented in its scope and ambition and are popularly referred to as ‘Global Goals/Agenda’ – 2030. The SDGs seek to address the unfinished business of the MDGs by fostering inclusive development, while addressing the social, economic and environmental sustainability of development in general. Hence the global consultation involving; the United Nations, Governments, the Private sectors, Civil Society, the Youth groups, business, academia and millions of citizens culminated in the global goals, with a quest to eradicate poverty in all ramifications, to reduce inequality, avail access to human right/justice and enhance safer and more conducive habitats by carrying all stake holders along while leaving no one behind.
- Youth may be defined as the active working group of a nation or could be described as the stage in life when one is young. Youths are referred to as the future leaders/leaders of tomorrow. The United Nations regard Youth as all individuals within the age bracket of 18 and 35 years of age. It is usually the period after childhood. Among the youth age bracket are a large chunk of unemployed, the vulnerable especially the women and Girl Child. The youths change the future of a nation by replacing the previous generation especially in key political, social and cultural roles. Youths of a country therefore, have a significant role and influence in the growth and development of the nation. The youth is seen to be that individuals with lots of vigour/energy, talents whether latent, identified or developed skills etc, either by the community, Government, parents or even peers. It is estimated that about 1.8 billion of the world’s population fall within the age bracket of youths (10-24) as such, they deserve as a matter of necessity, to be given opportunity to be actively involved influencing, shaping, designing and contributing to policy making. Hence one can logically say, train the youth, develop the nation.
- Permit me to use the words of Hillary Rodham Clinton, former US Secretary of State in “Youth Rising,” Tunisia, February 25, 2012- “There are underlying dynamics that are affecting young people everywhere – changes in demographics and technology, economics and politics that are bringing together this unique moment in history. Young people are at the heart of today’s great strategic opportunities and challenges, from rebuilding the global economy to combating violent extremism to building sustainable democracies. Consequently, the OSSAP-SDGs is engaging youths in the implementation of SDGs in Nigeria by putting youth issues at the centrepiece of this Global Agenda which envisages a world free from poverty and deprivation where fundamental conditions for humans, animals and plants survival in a conducive, safe and resilient environment.
- In the month of February, 2017, the implementation of SDGs in Nigeria achieved a milestone when OSSAP-SDGs in collaboration with the NYSC, launched NYSC/SDGs Champions. This groups of youths are Corps members who were commissioned to act as mouth piece of OSSAP-SDGs activities at places of their Primary Assignment in the 36 States of the Federation and FCT as well as the 774 LGAs.
- It is instructive to note that the NYSC with its nationwide spread played a major role in galvanising Nigerians for participation in the MDGs and was at the fore front for the collection of data which resulted in this Global Agenda. The NYSC/SDGs Champions, will therefore, be a channel to develop in Nigeria citizenry to be committed and take ownership of projects in their communities and create the needed awareness in the overall implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria.
- Also, the OSSAP-SDGs in partnership with google Nigeria through its vendor; Mindth-Gap, on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis, is organising a training of one hundred and twenty five thousand (125,000) unemployed youths across Nigeria on; Digital Skills. The Digital Skills for youth is a participatory approach based training designed to offer basic Digital Marketing and Skills development in this industrial age. The programme is geared towards; job creation, skill impartation and empowerment of the poor, and vulnerable unemployed Youths and owners of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) etc. This programme which was flagged off by the Vice President in August 2016, will be held at the 36 States of the Federation and will end this April.
- In a bid to achieve a successful implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria, my office is collaborating with the private sector to reduce the huge financing deficit/gap that has the potentials of impeding progress of the SDGs. Only recently, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo SAN, inaugurated the Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) which comprised of CEOs of frontline businesses in Nigeria to assist in providing additional finances to the SDGs initiatives in Nigeria.
- OSSAP-SDGs is also working in close collaboration for the prioritization of the SDGs in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Government and encouraging the States to do same in their respective development plans. While it was acknowledged that broad SDGs areas such as macroeconomic stability, energy, industrialisation, agriculture and food security have been given priority of place in the ERGP, the SDGs are currently being integrated into it.
- The SDGs being a global agenda notwithstanding, the significant role of youth groups in the emergence of the programme calls for their greater attention and involvement. Youths are amongst others expected to exert good morals, influence and effect positively in the implementation of SDGs in Nigeria. As SDGs Ambassadors, the desired SDGs should begin with our individual self. Mind you, youths are the leaders of tomorrow.
- In conclusion, I expect you to optimise the dividend of this training which is a golden opportunity to be selected amongst millions of youths, to imbibe all the skills to be impacted here and be better-off. Also, to serve as role models to other youths and the larger society. I assure you of the resolve of OSSAP-SGDs to work with diverse stakeholders to build the needed consensus for the successful implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria. I am convinced that working together, we can successfully implement the SDGs and make a remarkable improvement in our lives as a nation. Yes we can. May I once again thank our development partners and organisers of this training for a well-conceived idea. I wish you all safe trip to your destinations at the completion of the training.
- I thank you all.
Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire,
Senior Special assistant to the President on SDGs