By Kingsley Okoye
LEAP Africa, an NGO, says it has earmarked $1.2 million through its Nigeria Youth Futures Fund (NYFF) programme to promote civic engagement and youth leadership development in Nigeria.
Executive Director of the LEAP Africa, Kehinde Ayen, said this at the unveiling of 2024 grant cycle of the organisation.
The event has had the theme: “Catalysing Youth Agency for the Nigerian We Want”.
It had in attendance participants from youth-based organisations and some government functionaries.
Ayeni said NYFF, funded by MacArthur Foundation and Ford Foundation, was designed to strengthen, support and prepare young people in Nigeria for youth leadership, activism and social change, through outcome driven policy engagements and inclusive resources.
She said the resources would support youths in shaping and supporting medium and long term national development, equip young people to reimagine, co-create, frame and engage in national and regional policy development to drive evidence based advocacy.
She said the $1.2 million would be disbursed as grants to 170 other NGOs for the purposes.
Ayeni said its previous grants disbursed to youth development groups contributed to the success of the last elections, especially in its engagement with youths on voter registration and participation at the last general elections.
Dr. Joe Abba, a member of board of LEAP Africa, said it was fantastic that the youth were getting direct grant with which they could do something leading to further developments of the country.
Abba urged political parties to slash the price of nomination forms of running for offices.
He said the high cost of nomination forms was prohibiting young Nigerians to contest election, in spite of the Not-too-young to run law, which reduced the age qualifications for contesting political positions.
“By making it very expensive to run for public office, you are automatically excluding young people.
“Although you have passed the Not-too-young to run Act, you have taken steps to ensure that they can’t actually run by making the forms to be expensive.
“So I will call on the political parties to take a look at that to ensure that we don’t consciously or unconsciously exclude our youths,” he said.
He also encouraged the advocates of Not-too-young to run act not to relent but also push for “not-too-poor to run legislation”.
“The fight is not finished. We need to continue the struggle,” he said.
Abba called for appointment of more youths in strategic positions, where they could make a difference, while also calling for access to capital from financial institutions for youths involved in entrepreneurship.
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, said the unveiling of the grants awarded by the Nigeria NYFF was not witnessing allocation of resources alone.
He said it was rather the ignition of a movement that would shape the desired Nigeria.
He said NYFF was a beacon of hope and empowerment, saying that it was a testament to the transformative power of youth agency.
Kalu said the NYFF embodied the strong belief in the ability of young Nigerians to shape their destinies and contribute meaningfully to the nation’s progress.
Kalu said the theme of the programme was a call to action, an invitation to unleash the boundless potential of Nigeria’s youth, enabling them to become architects of a brighter future.
“As we unveil these grants, we are not simply distributing funds.
“We are sowing the seeds of a new era, one where the voices of young Nigerians are amplified, their energies harnessed, and their dreams realised.
Kalu urged Nigerian youths to let their voices be heard, ideas be shared, and their actions be the driving force behind a nation that truly reflects the dreams and aspirations of its youth.
He said Nigeria can be shaped in such manner that every young person has the opportunity to pursue their dreams, and where every Nigerian would have the chance to contribute meaningfully to the nation’s progress.
High point of the event was the unveiling of grant of $10,000 each to first 20 shortlisted NGOs category and $1,000 to two shortlisted individual category. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Idris Abdulrahman