Making a Difference through education, business and politics

Making a Difference through education, business and politics


THEME: Making a Difference through education, business and politics

 DATE: February 22nd, 2018.

I humbly wish to thank the organizers of this important and timely event, I have always advocate for importance of learning in contributing to progressive change. This approach is needed now more than ever, our society have reached a critical time, we are living in times of great turbulence, and the impact of that on young people, as indeed on people of all ages is huge.

Today’s generation of young people is the largest the world has ever known, particularly in Africa. One in every three people living today is under the age of thirty. According to International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts, by 2035 the number of people in Sub-Saharan Africa joining the working age population (ages fifteen to sixty-four) will exceed that from the rest of the world combined.  In the informal migration from Africa across the Mediterranean to Europe are many youth seeking opportunity because of a lack of prospects at home. This is a development challenge: big development investments are needed in the migration source countries, and international solidarity for that is required.

The challenge of creating jobs and opportunities for the large youth population entering the labour market is one of the major challenges our world faces. But there are others too, like: inequalities, protracted conflicts, political instability, economy and environmental challenges.

Young people now and in the future will play a big role in how our world adapts to these challenges. With youth comes energy, innovation, and optimism – if there are supportive environments and opportunities; these will lay the ground for major positive contributions by youth, and for a demographic dividend for our nation and our world.

Recognizing the potential of youth, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) developed its first-ever Youth Strategy (2014–2017) (link is external), called “Empowered Youth, Sustainable Future”, in line with the UN System-Wide Action Plan on Youth (link is external) (2013) which calls on young generations to become more involved and more committed in development processes. 2013 also saw the publication of the “Enhancing Youth Political Participation throughout the Electoral Cycle: A Good Practice Guide (link is external)“, UNDP’s first review of programming strategies for youth political participation beyond the ballot box. In 2016, to further boost the implementation of UNDP’s Youth Strategy and respond to both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security (link is external), UNDP launched a Youth Global Programme for Sustainable Development and Peace – Youth-GPS (2016–2020) (link is external). The Youth-GPS focuses on civic engagement and political participation, among other areas, and responds to the concerns young people have expressed in global, regional and national forums and the growing demand at all levels for cutting-edge and strategic support in youth programming in all development contexts. In 2016, as a joint initiative of a number of partners including UNDP and IPU, the “Not Too Young To Run (link is external)” global campaign was launched to elevate the promotion of young people’s right to run for public office and address the wide-spread issue of age discrimination.

In 2010, IPU adopted the resolution “Youth participation in the democratic process (link is external)” at its 122nd Assembly and in 2013, established the Forum of Young Parliamentarians. Since then, IPU published two studies, one in 2014 (link is external) and another in 2016 (link is external), using a questionnaire to gather data from its Member Parliaments around the world on youth participation in national parliaments. Through these studies, IPU provides a number of recommendations for action which, if acted on, will ensure young people are fully engaged in politics. These include designing strategies by national parliaments and political parties that target the inclusion of young MPs and ensure diversity among youth, addressing the disparities between the number of young men and young women entering parliament. IPU also recommends to align the minimum age for parliamentary candidacies with the minimum voting age and to establish youth quotas (e.g. reserved seats, legislated quotas, party quotas) as a means of increasing the number of young MPs. In 2016 the IPU membership endorsed the document “Rejuvenating democracy, giving voice to youth (link is external)”, based on the principles promoted by the young parliamentarians of the IPU: “No decisions about us without us”, that outlines how parliaments and parliamentarians could help rejuvenate democracy and give the world’s young people a voice in political decision-making.

Making a Difference, the youth need to engage in social innovative businesses and politics. Politics is indisputably a powerful instrument for astronomical growth, development, national integration, unity, peace and societal advancement through sound economic, fiscal and social welfare policies and programmes not the monumental retardation, retrogression, social injustices and backwardness obtainable and obvious in Nigeria, Africa and other developing as well as underdeveloped nations.

In Nigeria and Africa, social innovation is gradually striving, where young doctors, engineers, and traders are using technology and mobile communications to tackle health, humanitarian, and other challenges. For example, Wecyclers a social enterprise in Nigeria offers household recycling service using a fleet of low cost cargo bikes, Open Street Map, a crowd-sourced application to create a map of the world to obtain accurate information on the most remote areas of Niger; using the internet and social networking to increase sales for market traders in Senegal; and founding a web portal in Mali dedicated to information and awareness-raising to prevent the spread of epidemics, waste man.

But we need of young, democratic, innovative politicians. Not so many young, creative, innovative people are willing to engage in politics. Politics – it is a risky profession. But to be a politician is an impressive and rewarding occupation, empowering to make a difference in people’s and countries lives. Politician is granted the possibility of making decisions, influencing the wellbeing of thousands, even millions of people.

Every field needs people who are committed to what they do. Same applies to politics. If one wants to be a good politician then he or she has to care for public problems, take the lead, be honest and fully transparent, study lifelong, have strong will and determination.

You, the young Africans, have so many tools to make your influence and what a good politician needs is a belief that it is possible to change the world for the better.

Making a different through education can also impact our world, universities and young people enrolled in secondary and tertiary education like those here at Social Enterprise Academy, Nigeria have a vital role to play. Well educated, creative, and innovative young people who can re-imagine their societies, redesign infrastructure and systems, and drive technology change are needed to make the transformations.

I wish you fruitful day at Social Enterprise Academy, Nigeria, discussing the present hot issues of our life and I am looking forward for your insights and suggestions.

The future of Africa is in your hands.

Thank you.

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