UN Envoy tasks African leaders on youth inclusion

Gloria Essien, Abuja


The United Nations Special Envoy on Youths, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake has urged African countries to put legislation in place that would place youths in position of authority.

She was speaking as she rounded up her visit to Nigeria.

The special envoy noted that African youths have various potentials that need to be explored.

She also said that in other parts of the world, more youths are given responsibilities but laws in Africa prevents the youths from doing same.

“I think youths all over the world are ready for this responsibility. But the only problem is that there are structural and legal barriers that prevent us from participating in political processes.  

So, you can vote when you are 18 or 21 but you can’t run for office when you are 18 or 21. It doesn’t really make sense. So, I urge state legislatures in Nigeria to adopt the bill that reduce the running age for members of parliament and  members of the state councils. That was formally adopted by the National Assembly. I was very pleased to see that eighteen states have adopted this law and there are a few more to go. So I really urge the remaining states to consider this to give us the youths that push that we as young people need to participate in political processes. So, maybe one day, Nigeria will see a really young person as president” Ms Wickramanayake said.

The UN’s Special Envoy also said that Nigerian youths do not just present problems but also have solutions to the problems.

She also appealed to African leaders to invest in the education of the youths for a better tomorrow as well as support the youths whenever they come up with ideas.

Ms Wickramanayake also spoke to Nigerian youths about exploring opportunities available on the internet.

On his part, the Resident Coordinator UN System Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, called on policy makers in Nigeria to give the youths a chance.

He said that the youths are leaders of today not tomorrow.

He also promised that from henceforth, the UN system in Nigeria is going to place emphasises on youths development.

The visit of the Nations Special Envoy on Youths, Ms.Jayathma Wickramanayake, was focused on “Opportunity and Challenges facing young people in Nigeria in the Framework of the Sustainable Development Goals”.