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“The role of National Youth Councils in meeting the global Security challenge”; a case study of National Youth Council of Nigeria of Nigeria. A text presented at the World Assembly of Youth (W.AY.) Summit in Malaysia, by Hon. Aiyamenkhue Edokpolo- S.S.A.

By Edo Benin
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November 2010.
Apology- On behalf of the National Youth Council of Nigeria- Edo State Chapter, I sincerely apologize for our inability to attend this very unique ceremony; we had serious logistics and communication hitches. Please kindly bear with us.

Protocols; I bring you greetings and message of felicitation from the Governor and people of Edo State, Nigeria. I wish to most respectfully acknowledge the trust reposed on me by the World Assembly of Youth to be a guest speaker at this epoch-making occasion; I will not let you down in God's name, Amen.

For the purpose of introduction, I like to depart by stating unequivocally that the challenge of combating organized crimes or insecurity has no doubt assumed a global dimension because of the intrinsic and international connection of “entrepreneurs of violence and organized crimes” on the one hand; and the unquantifiable essence of peaceful co-existence and mutual relations between nations, organizations and institutions, the world over on the other. The infamous 9/11 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York; the July 7 attack in London, the Mumbai Bombing in India; the October 1st Bombing of Nigeria's Federal Capital Territory are indicative of the networking in organized crimes in our contemporary world. For the purposes of making encyclopedic inferences and dialectical contextualization, this paper will delve into the following- i.e, human security as a phenomenon; and thereafter, the significance and challenges of National Youth Council of Nigeria towards meeting the expectations set for it by Federal Government of Nigeria.

The quest for peace by humans is as old as humanity itself; because it is an indisputable fact that no one or society or country can develop technologically or in terms of human capital development in an atmosphere of violence or insecurity. Societies have evolved means of dealing with security challenges more than others largely because of peculiarity or as a matter of policy. The Wikipedia, views human security “as an emerging paradigm for understanding global vulnerabilities whose proponents challenge the traditional notion of national security, by arguing that the proper referent for security should be the individual rather than the state. Human security holds that a people-centered view is necessary for national, regional and global stability”. The United Nations Development Program's 1994 Human Development Report has been internationally acknowledged as a milestone in dealing and understanding human security as a social concept in our global world. In the publication, UNDP argued that ensuring “freedom from want and “freedom from fear” for all persons is the best path to tackle the problem of global insecurity. Like any social concept, human security is not immune from criticism; it has been accused of vagueness and that of ineffectiveness, and that it is merely a vehicle by which human rights activists attracts sympathy and undue popularity. However, what critics cannot wish away from 'human security' is that they are beneficiaries of its inherent objectives.

Given the impact of organized crimes in our global world, which tends to undermine national, regional and global administrations or institutions, governments at various level have devised means of arresting its trends or demolishing its agencies. Some decades ago, the Government of Nigeria in its wisdom, reasoned that since youths are the most vulnerable to the vagaries and agencies of terrorism or organized crimes, it will be ideal to have a national agency, as a vehicle that will oversee all youth activities; including mentoring, funding, monitoring, and international relations bridge-building. This idea gave birth to the establishment of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (N.Y.C.N.), by an act of Parliament in the year 1969 with the following aims and objectives-

1. To bring all voluntary youth organizations or its affiliates in Nigeria under one umbrella.

2. To discover youthful initiatives, talents aimed at enhancing national developments.

3. To embark on any other programs that will enhance peaceful disposition of the Nigerian youth.

It is commonsensical, to say or rationalize that youths are future leaders of every nation, it is intellectually expedient to assert that the amount of socio, economic and political energies invested by government and the private sector towards youths development and empowerment, determines the quantum of expectation the society will reap from the would-be-leaders-of-tomorrow. Strictly speaking, the average youth of any society reflects what the future hold for that society, this so because, no one can give what it does not have; and what you sow is what you reap. It is in appreciation of the place of the youth in Nation building that the people of Senegal, a North African country framed a maxim which is translated in English thus “the older people are tenants in the hands of the youths”, and I believe that this maxim was premised on the popular economic notion of “citeris paribus” (all things being equal). This is so because, it is assumed that the older ones will die before the youths or younger ones, but what we find in our contemporary world is that in violent conflicts, war, or as a result of national and regional terrorist crimes, hundreds and thousands of youths perish. In developing countries like Nigeria, where life expectancy is abysmally low, youths hardly get to old age. What an irony.

Historically, the value systems of pre-colonial African states were founded on hard work and patriotism or nationalism, so much so that the average youth was indoctrinated into the age-grade societies. This youthful association in pre-colonial Benin society for instance helped monarchy in no small measure in the area of vigilante services, ceremonial and ritual dance groups, traditional hair-weaving, farming, roads and farm paths maintenance, carvings, tax collection and punishment enforcements. So, at Infant stage, the Benin child was being acculturated or pedagogically equipped of the roles he will play when he or she comes of age as a youth; all that have changed as a result of modernity or cultural imperialism. The cultural values have been sacrificed at the altar of global civilization. It is a well known fact that the African youths were the ones who spearheaded the anti-colonialization movements; they also led the natives of the colonies to resist colonial or imperialist exploitations; and set the tone for the declaration of Independence. For instance, historicity has it that Chief Anthony Enahoro, moved the famous motion for Nigeria's Independence in 1954 and 1956 during the Britain-led conference in London and Lagos respectively at the age of twenty six and twenty eight. Of a truth, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Nnamdi Azikiwe, Saudana of Sokoto and others who led Nigeria eventually to Independence were youths; and most of them became role-models to upcoming youths. It was divinely designed that Jesus Christ lived and died as a youth, based on my knowledge of the Holy Bible. However, it is unheard of to say the least, that some political opportunists of the post Independence era in Nigeria, are still holding-on to the reins of power (for almost fifty years since their emergence into the seat of power), at eighty and ninety with little or no interests of empowering the youths to take-up leadership responsibilities. This is the crux of the Nigeria's political power struggle, and it is most unfortunate, because, all transformative paradigms or energies that most Nigerian youths have acquired by ditch of academic and travel experience have been denied access of utilization.

From Nigeria to Ghana, and from South Africa to Tanzania, the story of youth marginalization is the same with very little dimension or reflection. Lack of dispassionate orientation or disarticulation of national vision by holders of political power (politicians) has being the bane of governance in Africa; so blessed with unprecedented natural and human resources, but lacking in the know-how to transform them into greatness. The youths of these countries are hardly equipped with sound educational and vocational programs for development. I make bold as to say that any country or society that relegates its youth from socio-economic and political leadership is seating on a keg of gun powder. This is because it breeds a set of un-informed youths who for lack of proper orientation will eventually seize the reign of power by force and misuse it; or a set of highly disillusioned youths who may be intellectually equipped, but will seek to capture political power for revolutionary tendencies i.e, to eliminate older politicians or elderly military and civilian elites who they perceived to have impoverished or pauperized the masses of Nigeria. The later analogy is a common prediction among the average masses of Nigeria. This is where the role of the National Youth Council of Nigeria becomes herculean, because it has a constitutional duty to bridge the gap between the ruling elites and average Nigerian youths towards the overall development of Nigeria. Our late President, Umaru Musa Yar Adua in his wisdom conceptualized the Amnesty program for the militant youths of Niger Delta, this was not without the active participation of the National Youth Council of Nigeria; the product of this exercise helped to douse the growing tension in our minerals and crude exports. However, there are still traces of militancy amongst youths, be they militants from Niger Delta, infamous daylight robbery and kidnapping in Aba, an ancient Business-City in South-Eastern Nigeria or Northern radicals popularly called Boko Haram whom have unleashed terror on defenseless citizens in the name of religion. As a social crusader, (President of Benin National Congress) I have spearheaded campaigns or groups to forge a pragmatic solution to the pyramid of problems plaguing my country, with substantial positive results; and I will not relent no matter the challenges. With more enlightenment programs and a radical departure from the culture of leap service and deception by governments at all levels, the Nigerian youth will imbibe the right values for patriotic service.

Conclusively, I am an incurable optimist and activist in the Nigeria democratic and political evolution, I strongly believe that with more collaborative interactions of this nature, like, the World Youth Summit being hosted by the Government and people of Malaysia, regional and global issues associated with youth development will be gradually or systematically addressed. Just like one of my advocacies at the recent Youth for Human Rights International summit held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 27th August 2010, I make bold as to demand from the United Nations 1 per cent of military budgets by the G7 countries for global youth summits and cooperation's. Youths- women and children are the worst victims of civil wars or unrests, so long the developed nations are making huge budgets for military technologies because of foreseen and unforeseen security challenges; most often than not, these budgets raises security anxieties by other less powerful or developing countries; whereas, this summit is convened today without any iota of military prowess to address pressing global challenges like youth development. I urge this summit to come forward with high-powered resolution mandating Presidencies of the various countries to set in motion youth-leadership and empowerment programs that will strategically position the youth for meaningful political responsibilities, rather that state-sponsored violence or thurgery which is common practice in developing countries. As the 2011 elections approaches in Nigeria, the National Youth Council of Nigeria must come forward with sensitization and non-partisan mobilization programs that will encourage the youths to participate in their civic responsibilities to the nation, towards ensuring peaceful, free and credible elections. For me, if a nation cannot get it right by ensuring that the right caliber of persons are voted into political offices, that nation cannot get it right socially and economically. So Nigeria's chance of emerging into the club of 'truly' developing nations will heavily depend on the forth coming election; and I seize this medium to solicit for studied-monitoring of the elections by the global community- the United Nations.

I am most honored for this very rare opportunity to be a delegate at this very distinguished-august gathering; thanks for your attention, and God bless you all, Amen.