For youths in Nigeria, most especially in the South West, the time of sitting on the fence or taking the back seat on critical issues directly affecting their present and future is over considering their commitment and resolve to chart a new roadmap, which would serve as an effective template to guarantee a better and more prosperous Western region.
This and many more may have informed the organisation of a maiden edition of Youth Summit, put in place by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) and hosted by the Osun State government recently at the Women and Children Development Initiative Foundation (WOCDIF), Osogbo, Osun State capital.
The anchor of the summit, who is also the Osun State Commissioner for Regional Integration, Mr Bola Ilori in his opening remark said the meeting, packaged to chart a new development agenda for the South Western part of the country was not organised to apportion blame to political leadership or parties on issues, stalling the socio-economic growth and inhibiting the individual and collective aspiration of youths in the South West states.
Rather, he maintained that the gathering, that attracted eminent dignitaries, including the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, his counterpart in Osun, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, representative of the Ondo State government, notable traditional rulers was to brainstorm on how a workable 25 year development blueprint can be evolved as viable pedestal not only to aid the growth of the region, but also to restore its lost glory as a pacesetter in economic independence and sustainability.
Issues that were on the front burner during the 2-day summit titled “Productivity, Prosperity and Peace” included the incessant calls and clamour for the urgent restructuring of Nigeria, with a view to addressing identified imbalances and growing agitations among some parts of the nation.
The youth concluded that the golden era of the region was in the glorious days of regional governments, pointing out that it was incumbent to revert to true federalism based on regional system of the government
In a communique issued at the end of the summit, the youths also deplored the recent clashes between farmers and herdsmen, which claimed about 73 lives in Benue State, contending that it was germane for President Muhammadu Buhari- led federal government to decisivley tackle worrisome issues, capable od threatening corporate existence of Nigeria and peaceful co-habitation among various ethnic groups, constituting the population of the country.
It also called for the implementation of anti-open grazing law in all the states, adding that fairness, rule of law, separation of power and equity in government, should be practised and that the “Not too young to rule law” be embraced at both state and federal levels.
The communique reads “That the youth of Western Nigeria affirm their belief in one united Nigeria based on fairness, equity and strict adherence of doctrine of federalism, separation of powers and rule of law.
“Youths in the region should be encouraged to participate in political governance at both the legislative and executive levels. The NOT TO YOUNG TO RUN proposal should be properly institutionalized at both federal and state elections.
“That the ultimate goal of education should essentially be to produce the quintessential Omoluabi, both in content and character. Our Education should bring enlightenment to the human mind; prepare people for the world of work; provide the platform for leadership recruitment and provide the means for character building, especially the development of the Total Man.
“To tackle poor entrepreneurial skills and financial illiteracy, support and policies in Business Development and Entrepreneurial skill Development; and Financial Literacy Training should be deployed in states of the region. The creative economy and informal economy (film, music, fashion, food, photography etc) should be properly structured to stimulate creativity and economic growth.
“On Agriculture, the youths agreed that enablers should be put in place so the agriculture value chain be optimized for youth participation. That joint actions will be pursued and sustained on security threats to guarantee the safety of lives, property and prosperity of the people of the region.”
At the end of the summit, all participants agreed that 25-year master plan as conceived by the governments of the Western Nigeria is a step in the right direction and commend the government and people of Osun State and DAWN Commission on convening the Regional Youth Summit and look forward to the next edition in Oyo state.
At the end of the summit the youth gathering agreed and resolved on the following actions as imperatives for the vision of the Strategic 25 year Western Nigeria Masterplan.
The list of dignitaries at the summit include the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Osun State governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, Oyo State governor, Senator Isiaka Ajimobi, the Chief of Staff to Aregbesola, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) in Osun, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, members of Osun State Executive Council, the Timi of Edeland, Oba Munirudeen Adesola Lawal, Orangun of Oke- Ila Orangun, Oba Adedokun Abolarin, Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi, and host of others.