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Fayemi: Youths believe the older generation has failed them, their voices must be heard

Former Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has raised an alarm over the neglect of youths in the country.

He raised the alarm in his keynote at an evening conference for civil society leadersin Abuja, on Wednesday.

The event themed, ‘Forging a Common Front for Sustainable Development as Civil Society Leaders in Government’ was organised by the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) and Ford Foundation.

Fayemi, who is presently a visiting professor at the African Leadership Centre, King’s College London, said important as they are, the institutions of direct state power and civic activism are just the tip of the iceberg in the democratisation complex.

“There are places where transformations are occurring and proceeding by stealth, slowly, and steadily and in spite of, rather than because of, the government. We only need to look at what is happening among the youths and in the IT and creative economy space as well as in informal, street-level organising, for example, to reach such a conclusion.

“It is incumbent on us to be more discerning and responsive to developments in these spaces because they are increasingly becoming the dominant spaces.

“This is why anyone who holds a semblance of power or authority in this country should be deeply worried about the depth of despair, particularly among our youthful population,” he said.

Citing the EndSARS crisis as an example, Fayemi said what started as an innocuous online protest over police brutality snowballed into a mass movement that assumed more frightening dimensions.

“What I understand the youths to be saying is that we, the older generation, have failed them by our inability to create a system that supports their dreams and accommodates their aspirations.”

“From the language of their protests, we can see clearly that our youths feel pushed to the margin of our nation’s socio-political and economic structures. It is incumbent on us to listen to what they are saying and a lot more that they are probably not saying yet.

“Years of neglect and failure to make the right investments to support this population is now, quite predictably, turning it to a major disruptive force and a time bomb.

“I am afraid that the bomb has started to tick loudly, we must therefore act fast and start now to create systems that provide opportunities for our young people and make it possible for them to attain their God-given potentials,” Fayemi added.

Speaking earlier, the founding Executive Director, Centre LSD, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, said sustainable development means that development is achieved without excess environmental degradation, in a way that both protects the rights and opportunities of coming generations and contributes to compatible approaches.

“Meanwhile, it has been recognised that the three sectors: Government, private sector and civil society have great roles to play in the development of society and that this needs to be done in partnership.  But it must be understood that the three sectors have different motivations, approaches and experiences.

“The motivation for government is provision of services to all citizens; the motivation of the private sector is profit while the motivation of civil society is the protection of specialised groups and the vulnerable including the poor, persons with disability, persons living with HIV/AIDS, women, children, trafficked persons among others,” Igbuzor said.