A Civil Society Organization (CSO), Nigeria Youth 4 Peace Initiatives (NYP4I) has called on both federal and state governments to include youth in decision making institutions and peacebuilding, saying this needs to be done to tackle the surge of violent extremism perpetrated in the nooks and crannies of Nigeria.
The National Coordinator of the youth organisation, Mr. Lawal Rafiu Adeniran, in a statement made available to newsmen on Tuesday, said that the federal and state governments should as a matter of urgency engage young men and young women in shaping lasting peace as stipulated by the United Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250 which was co-sponsored by Jordan, Nigeria and some countries in December 2015.
“This global policy framework spotlighted the nexus between youth, peace and security and also emphasized youth inclusion into institutions and mechanism for conflict prevention, conflict resolution and building sustainable peace.”
The statement aired that the rising youth bulge experienced in Nigeria and globally confirms the truism that youth are an essential stakeholder if sustainable peace and development would be achieved. It therefore calls on government to engage and empower youth so as to allow them contribute to peacebuilding and development.
The organization maintained that experts in early warning systems have consistently posited that the increasing rate of youth-dominated population matched with the high level of unemployment is a challenge for national security and sustainable peace.
“In Nigeria, an estimated 70% of her populations are below the age of thirty-five (35) years, while she also boasts of about 13.3% unemployment rate. The inability of the government to productively engage and cater for her surplus populations continues to threaten internal security and automatically provides the pool for mobilisation by armed groups.”
“During and after conflicts, young persons are the most hit,” Mr. Adeniran said. “In the recent killings in Kaduna, Borno, Adamawa, Benue states, youth were faced with death and injury, loss of loved ones, halt of education, destruction of homes, displacement, forced recruitment into armed groups as soldiers, sexual abuse and now forced to take up responsibilities attributed to adults such as raising their younger ones and so forth.”
While reflecting on the problems Boko Haram has caused, especially the recent twin bombings at the University of Maiduguri leading to the death of a Professor of the University, Mr Adeniran said the terrorists’ group was a creation of poor governance, reckless conflict handling style, perceived marginalization, high rate of illiteracy and the mesmeric preaching by religious leaders.
As part of efforts towards tackling the menace of violent extremism, he advised the government to act and implement the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250, saying this global policy framework is binding on all member states of the United Nations.
Speaking further, Mr. Adeniran highlighted that if the five (5) main components of the resolution which includes participation; protection; prevention; partnership and disenagagement and reintegration are acted upon, youth involvement and mobilisation by extremist groups will be a thing of the past.
Mr. Ronald Kayanja, Country Director, United Nations Informations Centre (UNIC), Lagos officially inaugurating Nigeria Youth 4 Peace Initiative’s UNSCR 2250 Monitoring Group at a National Workshop on ‘Peacebuilding in the 21st Century: Revisiting United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250’ Held in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.
“By the adoption of this resolution, government is mandated to support youth engagement and empowerment programs, provide an enabling environment where businesses and other violence prevention and peacebuilding initiatives can strive.
Mr. Adeniran, therefore, calls on the government to strengthen partnership with relevant stakeholders in combating and curbing violent conflicts and extremism. “Government must partner civil society, religious, cultural, education leaders in countering violence and promoting social harmony.”
The organisation recommended that since youth in Nigeria constitute an estimated 70% of the population, they should be a major stakeholder in decision making and in Nigeria’s quest towards achieving sustainable peace and development. He advised that all legal constraints stopping young people from running for executive positions should be removed.
He concluded that “It will be myopic to hold on to the fallacy that youth are mere victims or perpetrators of violent conflicts. Nigeria youth remain a necessary and powerful tool if sustainable peace and development would be achieved.”