Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, says African countries must make deliberate efforts to set an agenda for young people to take active part in governance or risk the consequences of allowing them set one themselves.
Dogara said this at the African Regional Conference of the International Parliamentary Union-Young Parliamentarians Forum, which held in the National Assembly complex in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said that as the region with the fastest growing youthful population in the world, Africa cannot afford the social and political costs of neglecting the young people.
“Any nation that fails to set an agenda for its youth must have wittingly or unwittingly outsourced that responsibility to the youths to set one for themselves. And that nation should be ready to bear the dire consequences in terms of social and political costs,” he said.
“This is a luxury African nations cannot afford because Africa has the fastest growing and most youthful population in the world at the moment.
“Government has a duty to develop clear policies and programmes for youth development and get the young ones involved in the planning, formulation, execution and supervision as a matter of necessity and clear demonstration of government commitment in creating a tolerant and inclusive society.
“The rising political insecurity, violent extremism and crises ravaging Africa is another issue that should be of concern to us as lawmakers.
“I want participants at this conference to carefully examine the relationship between youth unemployment/underemployment and upsurge in criminal activities, extremism and armed conflict on the continent.”
Dogara said participants at the conference must do more than proffer solutions to the challenges, but must take action to implement the decisions reached in their various countries.
He also urged young people to refuse to be used “as instruments of political or economic instability” but rather to be resolved at all times “to safeguard our democracy and the liberty that it offers”.