The Distinguished Speaker, Senate House; Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawal
The Honorable Speaker, House of Representatives; Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila
The Chairman. One Youth One Legislator; Rt. Hon Danlami Ahmed Kawule
The Nigerian Representative; Africa Union Economic, Social and Cultural Commission; Dr. Tunji Ashaolu
The Director General, National Association of State Assembly Legislators; Mr. Chukwuka Uchechukwu
Representatives of Youth-led Organizations
Ladies and Gentlemen
(OR Permit me to Stand on Existing protocols)
It gives me great pleasure to present the keynote address on this important event.
There is no better time to establish a mentorship project like the One Youth, One Legislator, like right now. Granted, it should have been established a long time ago and even infringed in our constitution as a youth empowerment program, but since it is just coming up now, we will embrace it. Looking at the series of events that have been happening in the country, we can proudly say that the Nigerian Youths are no longer the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today.
The world is currently facing one of the greatest surge in youth population, and Africa is not unaffected by this. According to research, African youths’ makes up the majority of the youngest youths in regards to age and are the least represented in relevant sphere of influence. If we want to get back our position as the giant of Africa, it is up to us to start creating opportunities for our youths to fulfil their potentials as the great men and women they are.
It is said that only an average person learns from personal experience; a wise person rather, learns from the mistakes of others. This is the foundation of mentorship. It is expected that a mentee learn from the experience of mentors, understand the mistakes, learn the positive lessons and obtain the right virtues for success. The One Youth One Legislator project was initiated with the idea of teaching lost national values to the youths by utilizing the tool of mentorship. However, it will be careless of my colleagues and I to assume that the average youth will be willing to learn about values from politicians that they have lost faith in. Permit me to correct that impression.
First, it is an undeniable fact that corruption has eaten deep into the Nigerian system, which is why the mantra that brought in the present administration, was the ‘fight against corruption’. The problem we are trying to tackle is more of a systematic problem than a personality problem. As I earlier stated, the beauty of mentorship is the closely-knit relationship between the mentor and mentee. This platform will give that benefit and allow the mentee the independence to learn the values from the politicians and disregard the presumed vices.
According to the Statista, the unemployment rate of youths in Nigeria have been increasing over the years, reaching 14.17% this year. The pandemic and the consequent loss of jobs led to a rise in this figure, breeding frustration among the youths. Coupled with growing dissatisfaction of the electorate with the government alleged failure to perform its duties, it is not a surprise the #EndSARS protest gained a lot of momentum among young people in Nigeria and the diaspora. Following that event, it will be inconsiderate of youths in government like myself to ignore this outcry to support their desire to become agents of positive change at the forefront of national development.
The presence of the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Commission (AU-ECOSOCC) as partners to this revolutionary project is a welcome development. Of course, the AU-ECOSOCC influence should assure participants of our desire to have a transparent developmental project that is inclusive of all genders and supports equal participation. In fact, one of the criterial for the AU-ECOSOCC agreement to this project is the encouragement of women participation in politics. In collaborating with the AU-ECOSOCC, we desire to use also the One Youth, One Legislator platform to domesticate policies that will aid the development of youths to become the new pillars of politics in Nigeria and Africa.
The success of this program is to create not just a critical mass of politically aware youths but raise a generation of youths relevant in all sectors of the economy, in a bid to bring back the lost glory of Nigeria. Once again, I thank you all for making out time from your busy schedules to attend this occasion.
God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria