By Ossai Chukka
The Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu has called for more practical options to restore the rights of Nigerian youths while redirecting their productive energy towards nation building.
The Minority Leader spoke in his remarks at the opening of the National Conference of PDP Zonal and States Youth Leaders on Monday 22nd March, 2021 at the Bon Hotel, Abuja.
Elumelu, who went on memory lane, grieved over the plight of youths in Nigeria since the current administration took over, pointing out that it has been a tale of woes all through.
While commending the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, the National Youth Leader, Comrade SKE Ude-Okoye and the entire National Working Committee (NWC) of the party for putting together the conference to fashion out ways to further galvanize “our youth for greater participation in politics and leadership”, he commended the objective and theme of the national youth conference, tagged “Strategizing for Massive Mobilization in Politics and Governance,” saying that it is not only germane but incontrovertibly apt in providing the much needed answers and direction for the desired space for greater youth participation, not only in political activities but also for political leadership and governance.
Elumelu commended the PDP youth leaders from across the zone and states of the federation for the well thought out conference saying: “All over the world, the youths are the key drivers of the economy and social life. They are the real agents of development; they bubble with productive energy and brim with new ideas for economic growth and human empowerment in all fields and they are always eager and willing to contribute.
“Sadly, since the last six years, under the current administration, the Nigerian youth have suffered the most dehumanizing neglect and relegation by the same set of people who exploited and used them to achieve political power.
“Everywhere you turn, you see stark hopelessness, dashed dreams, wasting talents misery, confusion, anger, poverty, disease, hunger, starvation, homelessness, illiteracy and bare-faced despondency ravaging our youthful population, with no hope in sight under the prevailing dispensation.
“Our youth have become victims of the corruption, incompetence and insensitivity pervading the system. They have become victims of rising criminality as well as brutality of state apparatus of power. They directly bear the frustration of economic depression, devastated infrastructure excruciating unemployment and other challenges associated with bad governance.
He recalled that only last week, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) alerted that unemployment has escalated to 33.3 per cent in Nigeria, where over 40 million persons, particularly the youths have lost their means of livelihood, adding that more distressing was the fact that over 40 per cent of the country’s youthful population (15 to34 years) have no jobs and no access to opportunities that abound in the country.
“Today, there are reports that racketeers in MDAs extort huge sums from our youths for job, most of who end up being defrauded, as no jobs are provided even after such fees have been paid.
“The EndSARS protest by our youth last year is a glimpse in the level of frustration among our youth in their quest for a better society.
“The sad irony is that when our youth found themselves in other climes, they are given the opportunity to participate and excel beyond measure in all fields of endeavour whereas, back home, under the present dispensation, their productive energies are rather relegated and frustrated.
“Indeed, this is not the nation we all desire,” Elumelu declared.
The Minority Leader therefore, called on the Federal Government to listen to the youth, have more interest in their affairs, take urgent steps to bridge the yawning employment deficit as well as decisively address all the issues bordering on demand for good governance raised in the EndSARS protest.
“Nigerians can recall that under the PDP, the rights of our youth were protected. The youths were also allowed to fully participate in political leadership and governance even at very top levels.
“The PDP produced leaders of the National and State Assemblies, state governors, key ministers and heads of critical agencies, who were in the 30s and early 40s. Those in the private sector had unhindered access to opportunities that abound. This is no longer the reality today,” Elumelu said.
He continued: “It is indeed painful to note that all the templates set up by successive PDP administrations that hitherto enhanced the development of our youth have been wrecked in a space of six years of the current administration.
“I therefore want our youth leaders here to know that the task ahead is an onerous one as the entire nation and indeed the generality of the youth population look up to our party as a rallying point for solution and direction at this critical time.
“You must exert yourselves and come up with more practical options to restore the rights of our youth and redirected their productive energy towards nation building
“You must come up with strategies to massively mobilize our youth for greater political participation beyond acting as thugs and spectators to practical involvement in political leadership, contest for elective positions, party administration, policy making and governance.”
The Minority Leader called on the participants at the youth conference to come up with strategies for practical exposure of youths through effective mentorship, access to the required visibility and voice for political leadership, financial empowerment as well as reduction in monetary obligations for youths interested in elective positions.
“Moreover, I charge you not to relent in your roles as leaders of the youths. Such roles include propagation of values that will enable our youths to shun vices that are inimical to a stable and secure society despite the odds.
“I must say that with the energy and zeal exuding from this gathering and I am, without any reservations, confident that at the end of this conference, we would have effectively retooled for the task ahead,” Elumelu said, pointing out that “On our own part, the Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives, which I lead, is not relenting in our efforts on legislations and other statutory activities that will ensure greater participation of the youth in the polity.
“As part of the efforts to ensure greater mentorship and inclusiveness of our youths I have, apart from providing scholarships, skill acquisition programmes and employment in various fields, also employed 150 youths in my Federal Constituency as personal assistants on youth matters. This is the first of its kind, and more of such interventions have been designed.
“I urge this conference to propagate ways to get other leaders and stakeholders to be involved in such interventions for the benefit of our youths,” the Minority Leader said.