By Asmau Ahmad
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Solomon Dalung, says youth participation and inclusion in decision making processes will have positive impact on the overall development of the country.
Dalung said this at a workshop organised by Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) in partnership with the National Assembly (NASS) on Thursday in Abuja.
The theme of the workshop was Strengthening Co-ordination in Pro-Youth policies to entrench youth inclusion in governance.
Dalung who was represented by the Chief Youth Development Officer in the ministry, Mrs Lami Bature, said it was in view of youth inclusion that the federal government initiated the Nigerian Youth Parliament in August 2008, among other programmes.
“This is a platform that gives young people the opportunity to be initiated into decision making processes of government especially on issues that concerns them.
“Some states have under various orientation, already inaugurated their own Youth Parliament which is yielding positive results,” he said.
The Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr Mohammed Omolori, who was represented by the Secretary, Directorate of Legislative Budget and Planning, said the clamour for the participation of young people in politics and decision making process was a welcome development.
“Young people will have to be ready to be mentored, properly organised and also willing to take up responsibilities and be accountable for every action and inaction that will occur in the process of their inclusion.
“The success of the Young Parliamentarians Forum in State Houses of Assembly will depend more on how strong the Secretariat and the manpower that will drive it.
“Remember that you are the memory of the legislative institution, we are hopeful that you have the capacity to see this project through,” he said.
Omolori said the NASS in the last five years through the operations of the Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) had been able to activate, express and protect the interest of young people, adding that it is time to move to other parliaments in the country.
The Country Representative of WFD, Mr Adebowale Olorunmola, said Nigeria still has so much work to do with regards representation and participation of youths in decision making.
“Nigeria has 11.11 per cent under 40 years of age in the parliament. Political parties particularly the ones regarded as ‘big ones’ are closed to quality youth participation.
“If young people are not represented in decisions that affect their everyday life, how would quality decisions be made, perhaps this and many more are the reasons why youths interest items are given little attention,” he said.