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Report: UN@75 Virtual Youth Dialogue

Theme: SHAPING THE NIGERIA WE WANT

Date: Wednesday, 22nd July, 2020

Moderators: Daniel Nwaeze and Uche Arinze

Background:

The world currently has half of the population being under 30 and 90% of these Young People live in developing countries. The collective power of young people is one of the most powerful and catalytic forces that are available in challenging some of the biggest problems today from climate change and inequality to challenges in education, decent work and civic participation. In 2020, United Nations celebrates its 75th anniversary and to commemorate this milestone, the UN Secretary General announced that the UN is hosting the world’s largest global conversation on creating the future we want by 2045 when the UN celebrates its centennial. The UN is inviting Civil Society, businesses, political decision makers, youth advocates, etc to share their thoughts on the current state of the world, and is asking us all on how we can work together to improve our world so that everyone, everywhere can live their best lives.

To provide Young Nigerians with an opportunity to share their visions and recommendations, a virtual consultation was arranged where Young People will be allowed to discuss the innovative solutions by Young People to shaping ‘the Nigeria that we they want’ with the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nigeria amplifying their voice with the role of the United Nations in the process.

Towards this, the United Nations Association of Nigeria (UNAN) in collaboration with the Nigeria Youth SDGs and other Nigerian Youth Civil Society Groups and support of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos planned the virtual consultation with presence of the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria and the Minister of Youth & Sports.

Welcome Address

Mr. Daniel Nwaeze made an introduction to the event of the day wherein it is expected that Youths will share their aspirations for Nigeria we want and the actions they are taking to achieve this while they will also have an opportunity to interact with the UN Resident in Nigeria in celebration of UN75.

Opening Speech By the Hon. Minister for Youth and Sports Development

The Hon Minister represented by Mr. Adedayo Bamigboye gave the following key highlights:

  • Congratulated the United Nations for the 75th year of existence and praised effort of Youth SDGs and other organisers of the day’s event
  • The dialogue is considered very important and it is quite an opportunity for enlightenment to the Youths
  • There is a need for Youths to keep their voices roaring even though they may not get responses to issues raised at time they expect
  • There is currently proliferation of Youth organisations in Nigeria and there is a need for coming together with a view to polling resources together
  • The Ministry has a register of credible Youth Organisations and a call is made for Youths to make effort at getting more United
  • Call was made for Young Nigerians currently found in crimes and other vices to look beyond their certificates and explore other ways of utilizing their talents
  • The Nigerian Government stands with Youths who are doing well. There is currently a school for Young Parliamentarians where Young People can be trained for future participation in political issues
  • The Ministry is ready and available to assist resolution of challenges of credible organisations
  • Submission of proposals of projects are acceptable but such go through a process of evaluation/screening by the Ministry and not necessarily be for funding
  • Youths were called to visit the website of the Ministry youthandsport.gov.ng for more information and contacts.

 

Keynote Remarks by the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria (Mr. Edward Kallon) 

Mr. Edrwad Kallon after congratulating the United Nations Association of Nigeria (member of World Federation of United Nations Associations) along with other Youth Organizations for organizing the day’s event in respect of UN@75 gave the following key highlights:

  • UN is celebrating its 75th anniversary having being established on 24th October 1945 with big roles played
  • Matters of peace and security (e.g. regional conflicts like Iraq war and other conflicts)
  • Re-affirmation of the faith in fundamental human rights, in dignity and worth of human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small
  • Establishment of conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained
  • Promotion of social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom
  • UN75 is coming at a time of great disruption for the world compounded by the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic that has created a health crisis with widespread severe economic and social impacts
  • These past 75 years had witnessed series of events, interventions and visions that have shaped the world we have today. 2020 must be a year of dialogue. Dialogue and action on global issues could not be more urgent
  • UN launched the largest conversation if January 2020 and it is expected that dialogues will be held with all walks of life. Deputy Secretary General (Amina Muhammed) kick-started the UN75 Youth dialogue in Nigeria in February 2020
  • Your voice counts. The views and ideas generated will be presented to World Leaders and senior officials at high-profile event in New York in September, 2020
  • The Theme for UN75 is ‘The future we want, the UN we need: Reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism’ while theme for the day’s dialogue is ‘Shaping the Nigeria We want’. The next 10 years are critical if we must shape the Nigeria we want and realize the future we want
  • We have entered the Decade of Action to achieve the SDGs by 2030. The decade calls on governments, businesses, civil societies and individuals everywhere to create an unstoppable force to reach the Goals by 2030
  • The unstoppable action is hinged on 3 tripods
  1. Need to mobilize everyone, everywhere to take action
  2. Need for urgency and ambition
  3. Need to supercharge ideas to solutions
  • In the context of the Theme for the UN75, the Resident Coordinator raised following questions:
  • What should the international community prioritize to recover better from the pandemic?
  • Taking a longer view, if you picture the world you want in 25 years, what three things would you most want to see?
  • Overall, do you think that people in 2045 will be better off, worse off, the same you are today? And
  • Has COVID-19 changed your views on cooperation between countries?
  • He called for all to take the ONE MINUTE survey at online to add your voice and join the global conversation.

 

Interactive Session between Youths and the UN Resident Coordinator:

The following Youth Champions were available for the dialogue

  1. Sani Muhammad (Bridge Connect Africa Initiative)
  2. Wadi Ben-Hirki (Wadi Ben-Hirki Foundation)
  3. Saied Tafida (Follow Taxes)
  4. Goodness Odey (Nigeria Youth SDGs)

The Panel Members from different parts of Nigeria briefly introduced themselves and what they currently do within their Groups. All of them are involved in various ways of implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) at the grassroots including human rights and equality among the Youths. While Ben-Kirki Foundation’s empower Young Girls, Follow Taxes make effort at bringing people together and encouraging them not to fold their hands but work collectively. Nigerian Youth SDGs identify community based issues and encourage ways of getting voices of Young People amplified. Bridge Connect Africa Initiative in their work empowers Young People to live healthy lives and address other issues including rights of Young People. Women are also encouraged to have choices on how they live their lives.

Based on the questions and issues raised, the Resident Coordinator and his Team advised the Young people that

  1. As Youths are critical path to aspirations of the Nation, they should not be looking out for partnership with the UN System but since issues are enormous, not one person or one group can address them hence there will be need for a CONSORTIUM. There is currently a proliferation of NGOs, CSOs and other groupings
  2. Such Consortium will be made up of Young People with common focus and objectives. Common focus will add value and influence changes in a large Nation such as Nigeria
  3. The Consortium will be such that can be supported by the UN System whereby the Leadership can be held accountable
  4. There could be a form of constructive activism among Young People with similar dynamic ideas with a view to having strategic dialogue
  5. To progress with activities on UN@75, the UN System will be ready to work with Coalition of Youths
  6. Opportunities are available in the UN System for Young People through the National Volunteer Programme which they can explore. Volunteerism is quite good and Young People should look out for such while not looking for the monetary gains
  7. Young People submitting proposals need to aware of the workings of the UN System in Nigeria. Most Agencies of the UN work on programmes that are aligned with the country’s economic growth
  8. Further enquiries on the UN can be made to lagos@unic.org or the website of the United Nations

The Panel Members on their own made the following observations, comments and recommendations arising from questions:

  1. A limiting factor to Young People most times centres on inability to get productive engagement with Government Agencies. This limits the contribution of Young People to the developmental issues of the Nation
  2. There is a need to give Young People listening ears by either the Government or the UN System. Portal where suggestions of Young People can be accepted should be created so as to allow suggestions from local communities to be posted
  • Though abused, idea of volunteerism should be encouraged with less abuse and taking advantage of Young People
  1. There should be greater freedom of expression by Young People
  2. Government Agencies should be held accountable for grants by the UN Agencies
  3. Increased access to technology be given to Young People while there should be greater opportunities for Young People from the UN Top Hierarchy
  • Further patience should be given to Young People who are most times too eager to get results
  • Groupings to be further encouraged among Young People whereby WE CAN’T will replace I CAN’T. Collective results will be expected.

Conclusion:

Mr. Joshua Alade, coordinator of Youth SDGs stated that his group has embarked on many engagements with many Youth Groups in Nigeria with the hope of selecting champions in all States of Nigeria. All unanswered questions will be addressed after the day’s event. His Group has also being working closely with the UN System.

Engr. Ganiyu Owolabi in giving the vote of thanks condoled with the UN System in Nigeria for the attack on a humanitarian helicopter in the North East a couple of weeks earlier. The attack affected delivery of necessary materials to the need in some areas. He appreciated and thanked all persons that attended the event which closed at 1.00pm.

 

Engr. Ganiyu Owolabi

Secretary-General, UNA-Nigeria