The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has urged political leaders and governments to open Nigeria’s political space to allow for greater participation by the youth.
A statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, said the Speaker stated this while delivering a keynote address at a webinar for the commemoration of this year’s International Youth Day, organised by the Office of the Speaker and the Nigerian Youth Parliament.
He added that Nigerian youths needed to show greater interest in government and governance.
He noted that relegating the Nigerian youth to the background by the governments was harmful to the national development of the country, the youth being the most critical segment of any society.
According to the Speaker, one of the most effective means of participating in government by the youths is to constantly engage their representatives in the legislature at all levels.
“In his lifetime, President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, asked of citizens and policymakers thus:
“We must recognize the contributions young people make to our society. We must build upon the imagination, energy, vibrancy and talents of these our precious national assets.
“This is an obvious imperative, more so in a country like ours with a massive and ever-growing youth bulge,” he said.
The Speaker added that the country would not reach its full potential until government at all levels learn to engage with the changing values, needs, and expectations of youths.
“All our dreams of prosperity hinge on our ability to provide the physical infrastructure, the legal framework, the cultural and social support required to unleash the innovative potential of our young people.
“To achieve this sort of profound transformation of our governance, all of us in government and politics must commit to opening the political space to allow for greater participation by our nation’s youth.
“Political leaders must act now and consistently to dismantle those practices and systems that serve only to exclude young people from political participation, or that limit them to operating on the fringes as foot soldiers in the battle for spoils,” he said.