By Asmau Ahmad
The Nigeria Meaningful Adolescent and Youth Engagement Working Group (Nigeria MAYE) has urged the Nigeria political class to ensure inclusivity of youth in health and development agenda in all 2023 party manifestoes blueprints, and campaign messages.
The call was made after a one-day youth summit held in Abuja, with about 60 youth from across the country in attendance.
The summit sought to identify a multi-sectoral range of issues young people face, harmonize these issues, form a nationwide consensus for the advancement of the agenda and engage political aspirants with this agenda for them to prioritize during the 2023 election year and the by next administration.
A statement issued at the end of the summit jointly signed by Olympus Ade- Banjo
Chair, Adams Taibat Onize and Oyeyemi Pitan, Chair, Co-Chair and Convener of Nigeria MAYE, respectively.
“Nigeria is treaty to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) among other commitments to end poverty and promote peace and development; however, close to eight years down the line, many Nigerians are yet to connect their experienced rate of development and the lofty promises of the SDGs.
“Knowing that young people are the most affected with Nigeria ranking 161 out of 181 countries in Global Youth Development Index, it is crucial to begin to interrogate and reimagine the systems in which young Nigerians exist in Nigeria,” the statement said.
The group added that with young people accounting for about 70 per cent, it is also instructive to note that solving young people’s problems in Nigeria is the first step to solving everyone’s problems.
At the end of the summit, the youth charged the Nigeria political class to ensure inclusivity of youth health and development agenda in all 2023 party manifestoes blueprints, and campaign messages.
They also seek for the review of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), to recognize adolescent and youths as part of vulnerable population by improving access to quality youth friendly health care services.
Adopt innovative and diverse approaches in financing social health insurance for young people taking into consideration that they are about 70 percent of Nigeria’s population and the high rate of unemployment which is about 40 percent.
“Ensure National Council on Health should approve reduction of age of independent access to sexual and reproductive health services including HIV testing from 18 to 14years.
“Ensure a comprehensive range of sexual and reproductive health services required by diverse groups of young people is integrated into training curriculums of healthcare providers at all levels of training
“Ensure that policies supporting youth and female engagement in governance is actively implemented. Ordinary people should be given opportunity to serve from the local government to the Federal level,” it added.
The youth also called for strengthening of Micro Finance to give reduced interest rates to young people’s mini and small-scale businesses. Create meaningful occupational counselling structures for young people in secondary schools and institutions
It was further stated that the Youth and Development Agenda would embody a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) asks across a carefully selected range of thematic areas such as listed; Health, Education, Employment, Human Rights, Sustainability and Climate Action, Inclusion as well as Transparency and Accountability.
Health Reporters that the Youth and Development Agenda currently being fine-tuned would be disseminated through the press, social media and subsequently engage with the political actors and media.
The Nigeria Meaningful Adolescent and Youth Engagement (Naija MAYE) group is a prominent coalition of young people in Nigeria.
The group, which is hosted by the Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), seeks to build the knowledge of members on the Health Sector (the MDAs, their mandates and current trends); build their capacity to engage and actively participate in decision making platforms; support members to occupy seats in Committees or Technical Working Groups of government MDAs and; promote access to national and international opportunities for career development.
Naija MAYE is a rich blend of young people and youth from the Academia, Humanitarian, Government, Tech, Religious, Agriculture and Development sectors; about 200 and fast growing. They constitute the Community of Practice (CoP) which has a 14- member Steering Committee (SC) that coordinates the activities of the Group.
A lot has been achieved within a short time, for instance; four seats have been secured for young people in all the RMNCAEH+N Multi Stakeholder Partnership Coordination Platform sub committees.
Apart from advocacy and accountability workshops with key stakeholders, the group conducts routine youth assembly via social media where the young people discuss a plethora of health and development issues in the country.
The MAYE group appreciates the immense support from it parent organization the Africa Health Budget Network and partners, Vaccine Network for Disease Control, Education as a Vaccine and the Gem Hub Initiative.