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EU inaugurates Youth Sounding Board in Nigeria

Felix Oloyede

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Nigeria declares Friday public holiday to mark Independence Day

The European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS has inaugurated a 25-member Youth Sounding Board, a body of young Nigerians, who will help in shaping and implementing EU programmes and strategies in Nigeria for more inclusiveness.

The inauguration is part of the EU’s commitment to incorporating young Nigerians in its decision-making process.

Members of the EU Youth Sounding Board (EU-YSB) will have an unpaid mandate of two years.

The Board serves as a bridge between young Nigerians and the Delegation.

The Charge d’Affaires of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr Alexandre Borges Gomes, during the inauguration in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, explained that “the Youth Sounding Board will allow young people to have an influence on the policy and programmes of the EU in Nigeria, thereby contributing to making EU action more participatory, relevant and effective for the large young population in Nigeria.”

He said members of the Board were selected out of hundreds of applications of young and motivated Nigerians from across the country. “Specifically, you were selected based on your knowledge and experience in one or more of the areas that are of key interest to the EU, including gender equality, youth inclusion, climate change, and culture,” he said.

Mr Borges Gomes said the 25 youths had a proven track record of playing outstanding roles in their communities, both online and offline and had set up and participated in creative and innovative initiatives to empower youth at the grassroots level.

The EU Charge d’Affaires praised the Nigerian government for its youth-oriented initiatives and said the EU would work with the government in the areas of policy-making.

“We are pleased with the participation of the Nigerian government today, with their support, we hope the YSB will play a critical role as bridge builders between the youth population and government by influencing policies and legislation towards ensuring that local needs are not missed out within the national conversation.”

Nigeria Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, during his remark at the occasion, said the EU has been a worthy partner in youth development and investment, stressing that “the continuous engagement of our youth is the only way we can meet them at the point of their needs.”

He noted that the 25 youths that have been picked went through a credible process and charged them to be worthy ambassadors of the country, adding that the launch of the EU Youth Sounding Board in Nigeria is a big opportunity for the youth.

He, however, called for an agenda of action by the EU so that the Nigerian government can plough into it and design its national policies and initiatives.

“We have the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund to invest in their innovative skills of the youth, their ideas, and enterprise, he said adding that.“ about 6000 youth have benefited from the Fund”.

Mr Dare also disclosed that the Nigerian government is laying a foundation towards a more open and inclusive government that allows for increased youth participation in making key national decisions in governance, economic development and national security,

To achieve this, Mr Dare said the Nigerian government says will be holding a National Youth Conference (NYC) in Abuja from October 12 – 15, 2021.

“This Youth conference will bring together over 370 youths from all 36 (thirty-six) states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and over 200 high-level officials from the three tiers of government and some of their agencies, high achieving youths, chieftains from various economic sectors, multilateral agencies, social enterprise organisations and experts in academic, religious and traditional areas.”

“In all over 500 persons are expected to attend and participate in the 4-day event which will also include a Team Building Exercise session based on the outcomes of the thematic areas.’’

“The delegates, resource persons and youths will brainstorm in 5 (Five) thematic-specific Breakout Sessions and harmonise cross-cutting, multi-dimensional issues with significant impact on the development of a new and progressive Nigeria that is well adapted to the realities and challenges of the 21st century.”

“The Thematic Areas will focus on Politics & Nation Building, Education & Youth Development, Peace, Unity & Security, Innovation & Technology, and Soft Power of Sports, Entertainment & Creatives.”

The Minister said the outcomes of the National Youth Conference and the proceedings of the breakout sessions will form an integral part of the ongoing process towards a more inclusive Nigeria that will accommodate the objectives, interests and contributions of its youth in the Public, Social Enterprise and Private Sectors and enable them to contribute to the growth of the socio-economic indices of the Nigeria Economy and a more vibrant Nigeria for all.

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