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‘Youth as backbone of society should work for peace’


Simon Bako Lalong

Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong has described the youth as the backbone of any nation, asserting that the future of any society is the youth and must be engaged in all aspects of national development.

Lalong pointed out that it was because of the importance of the youth to national development that the country adopted a national development policy under General Yakubu Gowon administration which he said stretched beyond the baseline target of the youth to the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to foster unity thereby promoting the ideals of national development among Nigerian youth.

The governor spoke at the Eliel Centre Rayfield, Jos. The governor’s topic was on “Youth and National Development” under the broad theme of the workshop, “Peace-Building and Conflict Resolution for Youth Leaders of North Central Geo-Political Zone.”

He said the NYSC scheme has served as a veritable tool for inculcating discipline and instilling a tradition of industry and selfless service among the youth, adding that programmes and schemes of that nature must be preserved and sustained for the purpose of strengthening national development.

Noting that a nation cannot rise above the quality of the national values it promotes and seeks to bequeath in all critical sectors of its national life, Lalong argued that efforts must, therefore, be made to deliberately address all the peculiar needs and challenges that threaten the youth as a vulnerable group.

He urged the national policy on youth to address, among other things, breakdown of family values and inadequate parental care, religious fanaticism, and cult activities, drug abuse and alcoholism, poor education and increasing rate of school drop outs and unemployment and underemployment.

Others include child abuse, human trafficking and prostitution, political manipulation and gangsterism, cyber crime and pornography, intra and inter communal conflicts, and societal moral decadence.

Lalong saw the workshop as a unifying programme aimed at bringing together young Nigerians of varying cultures and socio-ethnic backgrounds to promote the integrity of the nation as one united indivisible entity with amply opportunities for the self-actualisation of every citizen.

He stressed that APC government is committed to giving the youth its place of relevance in the nation so that they can contribute meaningfully to national development.

On peace building, he added that the Plateau State government has resolved to consolidate on the peace building strategy which has seen government establishing Plateau State Peace Agency saddled with the responsibility of working towards building cohesive communities, among others.

The National Commandant, Peace Corps of Nigeria, Dr. Dickson Akoh, on the occasion, while quoting a philosopher said that ‘the world will not be destroyed by those who do evil without doing anything about it.’ He said the power to make peace and ensure its sustainability rests in the hands of the nation’s teeming youth.

Akoh noted that in September 2015, all the 193 member states of the United Nations adopted a plan for achieving a better future for all, “laying out a blue-print for the next 15 years to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice in order to protect our planet by the year 2030,” adding that central to the implementation of the 17 sustainable development goals is peace.

He noted with regrets that over 900,000 Nigerian youth graduate from secondary and tertiary institutions, explaining that out of this figure, less than 10 percent of the youth have access to gainful employment while the remaining percentage end up in armed robbery, militancy, prostitution, political thuggery, drug trafficking, financial crimes and other heinous acts of criminality and terrorism.

According to Akoh, all the vices mentioned put together contribute immensely to insecurity in the country.

He said the intractable nature of conflicts in Africa and indeed Nigeria is believed to be further worsened due mainly to bad governance, electoral fraud, social injustice, maladministration, inter-tribal differences and religious intolerance.

Recently, according to Akoh, many groups emerge under the cover of pressing home their demands for social justice and equity which affected many in different parts of the country. He urged all and sundry to make peace a daily ritual in their lives.

In a goodwill message sent to the workshop, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung, said the peace-building and conflict resolution is one of the programmes of the ministry designed with the sole objective of building the capacity of young Nigerians on alternative dispute resolution mechanism to enable the youth to learn other means as against the confrontational approach often adopted by many young people in their attempt to seek redress, settle their differences and justice for perceived wrongs.

Dalung explained that conflict and dispute occur when two or more parties perceive that their interests are incompatible and pursue their interests through actions that damage the other parties as the case of the on-going crisis between farmers and herdsmen.

He said conflict could also occur as a result of intolerance and differences in religion or ideology. He noted that all over the world, young people, who are experienced in alternative dispute resolution mechanism, transform conflicts they face into opportunities.

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