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National Confab: Youth Delegates Allege Marginalisation, Protest Exclusion From Committees' Leadership

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The youth delegates to the ongoing National Conference in Abuja on Thursday alleged marginalisation in the composition of not only the members of the Conference but the leadership of the committees as well.

They made the allegation at a media briefing addressed by the Head of the Youth Delegation, Comrade Ben Duntoye, to express their opinion on the national conference.

It is interesting to note that of the 493 delegates, the youth have only 18 representation which is a marginalisation of the majority by the minority considering the youth population.

In other climes, a conference of these nature should have more of the younger generation under the guidance of a few elders. It is only in Nigeria, that we have more of the older ones than the younger ones in discussing the future.

'Sir. Ahmadu Bello, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo negotiated the independence of this country at relatively young age,' Duntoye said in a statement read at the briefing.

According to the youths, ' We accepted to downplay this because we thought the conference would be about intellectual contest that will allow the best ideas scale through.

'This is despite the scepticism of our constituency. We started the conference with a subtle blackmail that we should respect our parents at the conference once it is noticed that our opinion varies with the status quo. As young Nigerians well brought up with our various rich cultural values for respect, we have immense respect for our elders at the conference. But we also understand that we can respectfully disagree and insist on our position except a superior position emerges.'

Maintaining that 'we are here in our official capacities to represent the youth and not to massage the egos of some people,' the youths said: 'When the 50 wise men were convened, a serious omission was made by not having any youth representation. Is the leadership saying that we have no youth who can represent the interest of the youth on the key issues that was discussed and agreed upon?

Again, 20 committees were constituted and the principal officers refused to see the wisdom in young delegates being represented in each committees despite that we raised objection at the plenary. We appreciate that one of us emerged a deputy chairman of a committee. While we appreciate the importance of the economy, environment, energy, labour, transport, civil societies and sport in our nation's development, how come we were omitted from equal critical issues like devolution of power, restructuring of government, public services and political parties?

'Was this a deliberate attempt to silence our view on political issues or another omission? If this is not addressed urgently, we may have no other option than to dissociate ourselves from outcomes of decisions taken about our future in our absence.'

The youths also expressed concern on the increasing senseless killings and insecurity in the country, saying ' We the youth are most vulnerable.'

They therefore called on the government at all levels, the elders and the youth across the country to come together regardless of political differences to confront what they described as the common enemy.

'We sympathise with the families of the deceased and pray that God grants the families the fortitude to bear the loss,' the statement added.