Today, we, of the above organization join millions of Nigerians and members of the international community to congratulate the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, his excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, elected members of the National Assembly, State Governors and also Honourable members of the State Houses of Assembly on the occasion of your inauguration into political offices. While we share in the euphoria associated with the inauguration, we are quick to charge you on the myriads of challenges and task ahead of us as a nation.

Since 2010, Nigeria has been battling with the activities of the Boko Haram sect, loosing innocent lives and properties. Several billions of naira which ought to be invested in building decayed infrastructure and providing social services is now been spent on the acquisition of weapons and supporting the fight against terrorism and insurgency, albeit with relative success. However, the perceived success is been eroded by the rising threat of banditry in the Northwest, the killings between Herders-Farmers in the Northcentral and also the increasing rate of kidnapping in the Southern part of the country. As you know, insecurity limits the socio-economic engagement of the people and threatens their national development. Ensuring security, therefore, is of high importance for all citizens of Nigeria.

While, we acknowledge government efforts in recent times towards revamping the economy and providing jobs through various social intervention programs, we are bold to say that it is largely insufficient, given Nigeria’s teeming population. With an unemployment rate of above 23 percent coupled with recent projections indicating this may hit 32 percent by the year 2020, Nigeria clearly sits on the brink. Therefore, adequate attention must be taken to immediately halt and address the rising rate of (youth) unemployment. Limited or inadequate employment opportunities and a lack of educational empowerment can contribute to economic isolation and increase social unrest in the country.

Again, between 2015 till date, thousands of youth have been harassed, victimized, detained illegally by operatives of the state primary security apparatus under the guise of curbing cybercrime and armed robbery leading to death, injuries and loss of valuables. While, we condemn criminality in all forms, young people must be given the space and encouragement to contribute meaningfully to socioeconomic development.
As a youth-led non-governmental organization working on conflict prevention, peacebuilding, democratic governance and sustainable development in Nigeria, we advised that, key government actions should include the following:

• Government should ensure that the youth and all citizens enjoy their fundamental human rights as guaranteed by the 1999 Nigerian constitution. We say ‘No’ to all forms of harassment of young people and denial of human rights under any guise.
• Local, State and Federal Government must prioritize youth employment opportunities. This may be done by adopting a national youth employment action plan, working together with the private sector, and allocating budget toward its implementation.
• Youth participation in decision making and governance is key, given young people’s demographic and democratic advantage, we advise that at least, 25 percent of political appointments into MDAs should go to young men and young women for meaningful engagement.
• We also recommend that a comprehensive approach to security be adopted. All ministries, parastatals, agencies, academia, civil society, media, international organizations must be incorporated into providing an effective prevention mechanism for the country. Government must put premium on civilian peacebuilding as against military intervention.

Once again, we say congratulations to you all and we wish you well in your quest towards ensuring security of lives and improving the standards of living of the people of Nigeria.
Rafiu Lawal
Executive Director,
Building Blocks for Peace Foundation
Wednesday 29th, 2019.