By Sumaila Ogbaje
The Minister of Youth Development, Dr Jamila Ibrahim, says more than 600 million out of 1.8 billion youths globally, reside in conflict zones.
Ibrahim said this at the Youth, Peace, and Security Summit, organised by the National Counter Terrorism Centre, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in collaboration with Mercy Corps on Wednesday in Abuja.
The minister said Nigerian youths constituted 10 per cent of the global youth population.
According to her, the sheer demographic weight emphasises the critical role youths play in building peace, adding that there was no international framework to address youth, peace, and security issues until 2015.
Ibrahim said the absence or limited inclusion of youths in peace processes had often led to the failure of those processes.
“According to the United Nations Population Fund, there are over 1.8 billion young people globally, with more than 600 million residing in conflict zones.
“Nigeria, unfortunately, has grappled with youth restiveness, recurrent violent conflict, and insecurity, largely attributed to influential push-pull factors.
“Yet, the youth have emerged as pivotal actors, both as masterminds and victims of these challenges.
“Leveraging their vulnerabilities, resilience and energies, violent extremist groups exploit their involvement in promoting nefarious activities,” she said.
The minister said the ministry had taken proactive measures to address the menace with the development and launch of the Nigerian National Action Plan on Youth, Peace and Security (NNAP-YPS).
She said the action plan was in alignment with the pillars of the UN Security Council Resolution 2250, adding that the pilot dissemination had occurred in six states with progress underway in others.
According to her, the on-going NNAP-YPS project is youth-led, involving state governments, civil society organisations, security agencies and critical stakeholders.
She urged the NCTC-ONSA and its partners to leverage the summit to engage meaningfully and provide lasting solutions to the nation’s challenges while emphasising the positive roles youth could play.
“To fellow peace advocates, I implore all of us to unite in our efforts, recognising that peace is indispensable for any nation’s development, Nigeria being no exception.
“The future of our youths cannot be left in the hands of disgruntled elements; we must act swiftly and decisively,” she said.
In his remarks, the Chief of Party, Community Initiatives to Promote Peace (CIPP), Sani Suleiman said meaningful youth participation was essential for achieving lasting peace.
According to him, this summit provides a vital platform to showcase young people’s contributions to peace and security efforts and foster collaborative efforts for a brighter future.
The Country Director of Mercy Corps Nigeria, Mr Ndubisi Anyanwu, said that youths were not only the inheritors of the future but also active architects of peace in the present.
Anyanwu added that the summit was a testament to the dedication and capacity of young Nigerians to drive positive change and build a more peaceful and prosperous society for all.
Participants at the event included State Governors, Ministers, representatives of MDAs, UN agencies, USAID, International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
Others are: members of CIPP’s Youth Peace Networks, Youth Researchers and Youth Parliament, National Youth Council, and Children’s Parliament. (NAN) (www,nannews.ng)
Edited by Yakubu Uba/Salif Atojoko