Your Excellencies, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I present to you warm compliments from President Muhammadu Buhari, and we at the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
I welcome particularly all Nigerian youth to this month of November 2019. Traditionally, only the first day of November was observed as African Youth Day, having been so recognized and adopted in June 2006 by African heads of Government at their meeting in Banjul, Gambia. However, for this year 2019, the African Union has decided to dedicate the whole month to the commemoration of this important event. This is driven by the desire to mobilize at least one million young Africans will have the chance to be among one million young Africans who will benefit from direct opportunities in the areas of Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship and Engagement (4Es).
2. It is important that governments in Africa continue to place the need for increased investments in youth on the front burner. I therefore commend the African Union for the theme ‘One Million by 2021, Count Me In.’ This opens the opportunity for young people to take personal stake in their development, and in broader sense, that of the continent. In the past, many African governments in their quest for sustainable development, have invested substantially in infrastructure and economic reforms while paying little attention to the development of their human capital. Decades of these investments still leaves us in the search for more effective ways to attain our development goals. For me, I believe the way to go is to tilt the scale.
3. The cost implication to increase investment in youth is minimal when compared with the enormous resources most countries in Africa expend to mitigate the impact of poor investments in youth on peace, security and economies of our nations. Therefore, many experts propound that the youth bulge if not adequately harnessed, will become a demographic bomb rather than revenue, because a large mass of frustrated youth is likely to become a potential source of social and political instability[i]. It is from this context that I commend the African Union for the theme.
4. For us in Nigeria, is a double celebration as we also use the occasion to launch the Pocket Size National Youth Policy (NYP) as well as the National Youth Policy APP. The choice to have variations of the National Youth Policy in both formats is informed by our critical audience – youth, to whom the policy belong.
5. When Mr. President appointed me as Minister, he gave me a clear mandate: keep Nigerian youth productively busy! And by God, this we will do.
7. Our strategy is simple: – each person contributing from their little space: government, private sector, civil society and development partners; The most important actors being the youth themselves; not mere standby spectators. it is my believe that we have begun this model of cooperation from the way we put this event together. I must therefore commend our partners – Mind the Gap, YIAGA, LEAP Africa, and UNFPA, for working tirelessly with us to ensure we deliver a 2019 African Youth Day that has surpassed any in quality that we have done before; the most important being the introduction of the Pocket-size National Youth Policy.
8. The challenge now is for us to maintain the relationship and sustain the partnership. Going forward, we at the Ministry will work towards sustaining an ecosystem of State and non-state actors in each thematic area of the National Youth Policy, which will evolve into the National Youth Policy Implementation Network.
9. Excellencies, Distinguished ladies and Gentlemen, the next level belongs to the Nigerian youth. Mr. President’s has a new DEEL for the youth; and it starts today! This month offers a new vista of new beginnings; replete with exciting bouquets of offerings. Whether your interest is Digital Skills, Entrepreneurship, Employment or you are passionate about leadership, governance and inclusion, there is something for everyone in the new DEEL. The digital revolution offers an unparalleled opportunity to drive a new wave of international economic growth for countries that have hitherto not fully enjoyed the benefits of the global economy.
11. For instance, at the present rate of increase in the global technology industry, Accenture and Oxford predicts that by 2020, the technology industry will add about 1.3 trillion USD to the world’s economy. To fully grasp the implication of this new added growth to the global economy, 1.3 trillion USD is the present-day GDP of South Korea – one of the most digitally advanced nations in the world. This study further anticipates economies such as India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey, South Africa who have begun the process of modernizing their economies to be in the fore front of economic greatness.
12. Developing countries remain a massive part of the untapped market for the digital economy. They have population in hundreds of millions of youth offering a wide pool of talents that can be trained to utilize digital platforms, develop digital resources and drive technological advancement. What is more, they have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of other developed countries. This is where His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari’s new DEEL for Nigerian youth connects with the African Union’s theme.
13. We at the Ministry will begin this process through the Work Experience Programme (WEP). It is intended to connect unemployed graduates with employers by placing them in the corporate world on internship capacities for a short period. We hope that through this window, they will acquire the basic work-place experience that will increase their chances of landing a job. I therefore call on all companies to sign up with us and offer the chance for our youth to smile.
14. On this note Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I have the honour and privilege to launch the National Youth Policy Pocket size and present to the Nigerian youth, the National Youth Policy APP!
15. Thank you for listening.