Home News 2023: Group urge politicians to prioritise youths’ health, development

2023: Group urge politicians to prioritise youths’ health, development

by Haruna Gimba
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By Haruna Gimba

The steering committee of the Meaningful Adolescent and Youth Engagement (MAYE) Working Group in Nigeria, has launched its agenda document with a call on politicians to prioritise youth health and development.

The document was launched after consultations and iterations which commenced with hosting of the national youth summit in December 14, 2023.

A statement by MAYE’s Chair, Olympus Ade-Banjo said the exercise is in line with the group’s core objective of amplifying health and development needs of young people in Nigeria, especially at such an important time in our national history – the 2023 general elections.

“As we all know that Nigeria is mounting its penultimate political dispensation into 2030 which is the ultimate milestone for sustainable development goals (SDGs), it has become imperative for all hands to be on deck in rightly positioning Nigeria in the success stories of the SDGs,” the statement said.

The group said that young people Nigerian being the largest demographic in Nigeria and consequently, most hands to move the country forward, have come together to engage the political class with this Agenda.

According to MAYE, the agenda is a collection of advocacy points critical to health and development needs of young people along seven key areas of development – health, education, economic empowerment, climate change, human rights, transparency and inclusion.

“Although a measured progress has been made across these areas over the years, over 70 per cent out-of-pocket health expenditure continues to impose financial obstacles to access to health, while less than half Nigerians are reported to have access to primary healthcare.

“Over 20 million children are still out of school and about half of Nigeria youth are under-employed. Climate change and neglected environmental disasters wreak havoc on livelihoods and threaten the survival of young people and future generations

“Human rights abuses are rife, perpetuated by both state and non-state actors despite recent legislations for example – the violence against persons prohibition act and the policy reform act 2020, but because of inadequate implementation,” it added.

MAYE lamented that Nigeria ranking as low as 150 out of 180 countries, typifies the fundamental problem of youth participation in governance which is practically impossible in a climate of opacity and unaccountability.

“And on top of that layer of youth exclusion in governance, is the abysmally lowlevelofparticipationandinclusionofwomeningovernancewhichstillremainsbelow7%.

“Although the aspirations of young people for health and development surpass the specific asks contained in the agenda, the document provides a basic minimum roadmap for young people to exert their collective energies and track results.”

Some of the asks of young people include but are not limited to; making Health Budget 15% of the National Budget and recognize adolescents and youth as part of vulnerable population for social health insurance.

They are also seeking for increase training capacity of Health workers in institutions to mitigate low human resource, implement and Domesticate Mental Health Bill and reduce the age of access to HIV testing to 14 in curbing its spread among others.

MAYE also called on the INEC to deliver on its promise of a free, fair and credible election even as the president so committed.

“We also use this opportunity to plead with all young people in Nigeria, to decry electoral violence before, during and after the elections. In addition to that, we must conduct ourselves as befitting leaders of tomorrow towards a common vision of a great and united Nigeria.”

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