The steering committee of the Meaningful Adolescent and Youth Engagement (MAYE) Working Group in Nigeria has urged President Bola Tinubu to reduce the cost of governance to advance human capital development in the country.
Chairman of MAYE Nigeria, Olympus Ade-Banjo conveyed the group’s message at a press conference on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, in Abuja.
Ade-Banjo proposed that, as the business of governance begins in many political quarters across the country, the best time to drive further the conversation forward on how from DAY 1, teaming young people in Nigeria could best benefit from the new political administrations.
He recalled that just before the elections in February, the group delivered a similar communication concerning the launching of the Youth Health and Development Agenda a.k.a., the New Deal.
Speaking further, the MAYE Chair stated that, the Agenda which was developed under the auspices of the group through a nationwide forum of young persons and a series of consultations with key stakeholders, mapped out areas requiring urgent interventions to build a healthier, productive, and empowered youth population.
Consequently, he highlighted some of the pressing issues faced by youth in the country including unemployment, economic hardship, exorbitant healthcare services:
“The group referred to the woes that bedevil young people in Nigeria, especially in health, education, and employment. Nigeria remains one of the highest contributors to global under-5 deaths as 95,000 children die annually from vaccine-preventable diseases, nutrition, and malaria among others.
“With over 70% of the population paying out-of-pocket for health services, the group decried the economic hardships young people, especially students, unemployed and underemployed, are subjected to when in need of healthcare.
“Speaking of employment, it is no news that one in three employable persons in Nigeria is unemployed while as high as half the population is grossly under-employed with wages that cannot meet their basic needs such as housing, food, healthcare, and education. The future is even more concerning with over 20 million children out of school and the fast rates of environmental degradation caused by the unprohibited environment
unfriendly practices and impacts of global warming”, Ade-Banjo said.
On a positive note, he said they were particularly happy that the new government signed the Student Loan Bill, a key aspect of the Agenda and a signal that the new government was attentive to the needs of young people in the country.
He however noted that it was important to point out that there were still areas of concern such as the stringent application process and default clause.
Therefore, “we implore the President and the hallowed legislative chambers to consider the prompt review of these concerns and see to full and effective implementation of the important initiative.
“Overall, the issues affecting the survival and flourishing of Nigeria’s most populous demographic young people – abound requiring rounded solutions which can only happen in the atmosphere of inclusion, safety, respect for human rights as well as transparency and accountability”, he said.
The group also charged all political office holders to respect their respective oaths of service and the impetus of the Constitution of Nigeria to govern fairly, equitably, and with every sense of propriety and prudence, taking into consideration that they were role models for the younger generation.
MAYE also expressed its readiness to work with all strata of government in Nigeria, through their technical working groups and network representatives across the country, to support the governments in ensuring that their tenures painstakingly deliver the collective aspirations of young people and the generality of people in the country.