It’s no news again that the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development recently launched the Revised National Youth Policy, 2019. This was reported to have taken place with youth stakeholders in the capital city of Ondo state – Akure. While there have been reactions and counter-reactions from different angles on the review, the major thrust of the review – replacing the age bracket for youth classification from 18 – 35 years to 15 – 29 years – has gone on to steer up a lot of commentaries, especially by those affected by the newest classification, as there is the question of what category they now fall into. The policy which was due for review in 2014 according to the 2009 policy took 10 years to be launched, and now, there is the assertion that too many time spent on anything in our country is just what it is – a waste of good time. Do you also think the review has failed to meet up with the expectations of this time?
It has been proven that youths are the greatest assets any nation can have, which is why developed nations don’t toy with the education, health, security and growth of their youths because they understand its direct and indirect consequences on the stability of their economy and all-round development. This policy which has been tagged Enhancing Youth Development and Participation in the Context of Sustainable Development has got critical minds thinking Nigeria is really ready for the teeming population of its youths. As an excerpt from the policy, youths are portrayed as the greatest investments for a country’s development as they are the valued possession of any nation or region. It adds that programmes and policies that focus on the wholesome development of young people and their active participation in the various sectors of nation building are increasingly being emphasised on a global level which led to the development of a National Youth Policy in the first place.
As a non-governmental organization working around youth policy formulation and advocacy, empowerment and entrepreneurship, we are very much in support of the newest classification of the youth age bracket as it’s in the best interest of the youths. It’s on record that the 2012 National Baseline Youth Survey which was directed by the National Bureau of Statistics in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Youth Development estimated the population of youths aged 15 – 35 years in Nigeria as 64.1 million and those in the age bracket of 18 – 35 as 52.2 million. Females constituted 51.6 percent of 15 – 35 age bracket and 52.8 percent of 18 – 35 age bracket. It was noted in this survey that Lagos state had the highest percentage of youths in Nigeria with 6.3 percent and Kwara state with the least with just 1.3 percent. You would agree with me that the number has definitely increased, with little or no improvement in the teeming population of youths in Nigeria. Do you see why something had to be done?
The Global Strategy for Women’s and Adolescent’s Health (2016 -2030) opines that investing in the right policies and programmes for adolescents to realize their potential and their human rights to health, education and full participation in the society can definitely unleash the vast human potential of this SDG Generation to transform our world. We at Brain Builders International are convinced the National Youth Policy is designed to enhance and sustain youth development and is indeed a right policy. We should ask ourselves, would there be a need for a revision if the policy works? Okay, maybe to ensure it gets better but it’s quite understandable that youth policies have continued in the line of reviews over the years because of poor implementation mechanisms.
The new policy according to the ministry is aimed at building on the achievements of previous youth development objectives, providing frameworks that proffer solutions to the problems of this time, while also ensuring youth engagement in economic, political and community life. It’s important we understand that the term youth varies in concept from place to place, hence, the need to appreciate the peculiarities of the term, as it applies to us as a nation. The boundaries explaining the transition from childhood to youth and from youth to adulthood are shifting, and it’s what hasn’t been taking care of for some time, the reason efforts at ensuring youth development almost always meet dead ends. In a recent survey, Nigerian demographic statistics posits that less than 5 percent of Nigerians are still in school beyond 29 years, with about three-quarter of males and over 90 percent of females married, so what are we saying? The class that should be getting attention, as a matter of fact, isn’t getting it. This is why the new policy places age 29 as the upper age limit for the definition and acceptance of youth.
Most recently, the NotTooYoungToRun bill achieved a remarkable level of success, with the reduction of age pegged for public offices. It was passed that the age eligibility to run for the presidency be pegged at 30, which in every sense indicates an adult period of life in our nation. So why don’t we just own it? Having the youth age bracket between the ages 15 – 29 would ensure youths who fall in this age bracket get the required social, economic, and political support to realise their full potentials. If this policy can realise its aims and objectives, then ultimately, our weak feet as a nation should be muscling back to stand firmly, as efforts at developing the youths would begin to yield anticipated results.
By: Sheriffdeen Tijani