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The United Nations must recognise the need for a Youth Commission – Nigerian Minister of Youth and Sports in a meeting with the UN Youth Envoy

Abuja, Nigeria – Nigeria’s Minister for Youth and Sports recommended the creation of a United Nations Youth Commission, similar to the Commission on the Status of Women, in a meeting held with the UN Youth Envoy. The UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, thanked the Minister for making himself available for the meeting on short notice, and introduced her mission to Nigeria and the sub-region. “I am in your country to feel the pulse of the youth, and to see what policymakers are doing to create a better future for them,” the envoy said. Further, she noted that her engagements with Nigerian young people the previous evening had given her a sense of how energetic and forward-thinking the youth of the country are, and how they are in fact a major resource for the country.

She made references to how the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign, which became a global movement had its root in Nigeria, and which showed how eager young people in the country, and in fact all across the world are to be included in governance and in the political process. Further to this, the Envoy thanked the Minister for Nigeria’s support for ECOSOC Youth, which the Minister himself had attended and where they sponsored the largest legislative representation in the latest assembly. While recognising Nigeria’s commitment for supporting youth agendas at the level of the UN, the Envoy recalled the call by HE President Buhari for the establishment of a dedicated UN Youth Agency during the High Level Segment of the General Assembly in 2016, that was reiterated by HE Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs during the most recent General Assembly. She also recommended the need for the Minister to leverage his office to see how there be stronger coordination with other Ministries to provide a holistic approach to youth development. That is, so that all other Ministries within the Federation are able to develop an agenda that is youth-centred.

The Minister thanked the Envoy for her visit, and expressed delight that the meeting happened, given how important it was to engage with his Ministry while on the visit. “I am happy that you appreciate the significance of Nigeria as an important player in the global and regional conversations concerning youth.”

He further mentioned that the most pressing problems of young people in Nigeria was economic hardship, poverty, and lack of jobs, including for many qualified people. An important way to address these problems was for the United Nations to develop a framework for the inclusion of youth in the UN. This is highly necessary because, although various UN Agencies deal with issues that concerns youth at different levels, there is no office, agency or commission of the organisation that is exclusively focusing on youth affairs.

Consequent on this, the Minister recommended to the Envoy that constituting a Commission for Youth would provide the platforms for a broader youth agenda, one that captures their priorities can emerge. And while at it, it may be time, he noted “For all Member States to agree to a resolution on budgeting for youth development, setting a percentage level commitment”. Young people can therefore be able to demand for the implementation of such a commitment within their own country, knowing that a regulatory framework exists to support their demands.

The Minister concluded the session by assuring the Envoy of Nigeria’s continuous support toward her Mission.