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International Youth Day Celebration 2020 by Lokoja NYCN; question of youth engagement and role in mitigating societal menace

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The Lokoja Local Government Chapter National Youth Council of Nigeria may have drawn the curtains on its celebration of 2020 International Youth Day, but the take-home has left many societal problems bare and at the hands of the demographic to ponder. It was an event that drew leaders from all walks of life and was worth the time spent at the roundtable discussion that served as grand finale; it centred on some salient socioeconomic problems militating against the ability of the youth to truly realise their potentials.

This year’s celebration marked a watershed in the annals of the council in what can be described as the first major task of the current crop of leadership of NYCN in the area under Comrade Ibrahim Isiaka. He, in particular, was praised for his organisational ability and the supportive roles of his team.

Having carved out its theme from the peculiar situation Lokoja Youths currently face, which is insecurity and problem of how to tackle the global pandemic, Coronavirus or covid19, the stakeholders include people with good knowledge in the areas of security, health, religion, legality of action, civil society, youth engagement and religion. The roundtable discussion then had, as its anchor, a frontline journalist, Mr Abu Mike.

During the discussion, the representative of the Nigerian Police, Mr Felix Ayuba who filled in for SP Apeh Jacob, admitted that crime rate had risen in Lokoja metropolis during the period of the pandemic and the lockdown. He gave reasons to include paucity of border and too much intercity conveyance from all parts of the country through the Kogi State Capital. He also urged parents and other caregivers to educate their wards on the dangers of involvement in criminality so that there would be a safer society.

On health, the head Primary Healthcare Clinic in Ward C, Hajiya Fatima Salihu admitted that the facility was seeing more patients in the covid19 era. She noted that some of the youth that visit the facility were there for drug related issues with some of them only there to acquire drugs which they abuse. As a mother, she was admittedly sad that such a menace was happening in the community.

Mallam Hamza Aliyu, who spoke on the role of the civil society stressed that they have been doing a lot to educate the public and engaging with leaders at all levels to be alive to their responsibilities. He said the period has made it even more expedient for citizens to prevail on their leaders to be accountable because the system lack resources to provide necessary infrastructure for sectors that require them in order to make life more meaningful for citizens.

For instance, he expressed concerns over the sudden wealth public officers display while in office when the pandemic had shown that government could not provide adequately for the health sector that is supposed to take care of the citizens under such critical circumstances.

Other speakers included Mallam Aminu Isah who is a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the Federal University Lokoja; a legal practitioner, Barr T Na’Allah; the Chief Mobilisation Officer for the National Orientation Agency, Lokoja Local Government, Mallam Hassan Garba; with Mallam Nayashi and Pastor Ezekiel representing the Islamic and Christianity faiths on the roundtable.

Mallam Aminu Isa anchored his argument on the economic factor that contribute to the issue of insecurity and said there was the urgent need for the youths to be gainfully engaged in order to nip the situation in the bud.

On the legal front, Barrister Na’Allah wants the rules that guide the society to be upheld by security agents because lawyers were actually doing their jobs and that irrespective of the dicey nature of the situation, everyone still has a right to fair hearing and presumption of innocence until guilty verdict is passed by the courts.

The religious representatives admitted there was problem but exonerated their faiths, saying it was better for caregivers and parents to be alive to their responsibilities for safer public.

The representative of the Islamic faith, Mallam Nayashi was emphatic in stressing that it was the responsibility of religious leaders to deliver the message of the Almighty but that it behoves the believers to take the messages and use them as guide in their everyday life.

Earlier in his address, the Local Coordinator of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Comrade Ibrahim Isiaka had applauded the roles some stakeholders had played in his emergence, describing them as people that he owed gratitude to. He mentioned Comrades Ibrahim Bala, Comrade Abdullahi Adamu and others for their immense roles to ensure he became the coordinator. He promised to continue to do his best to move the Council forward and evolve programmes that would uplift the youth of the area.

He was also full of gratitude to the SSA security to the Governor in charge of the council, Hon Muhammed Dan’Asabe Muhammed; the lawmakers representing both Lokoja I and II and others for their contributions to the success of the celebration.

In their goodwill messages, the member representing Lokoja/ Kogi Federal Constituency, Barr Shaba Ibrahim, who was represented by former Lokoja LGA Council Leader, Hon Maikudi Yusuf Alabi; the member representing Lokoja II State Constituency, Hon Isa Umar; the immediate past DLG to the LGA, Hajiya Fatima Abubakar and others all pledged their commitment to the cause of the youths.

They praised the Lokoja NYCN for its commitment to putting issues that affect the youths on the front burner and enjoined the leadership not to be deterred.

Thus, irrespective of the continued negative impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 International Youth Day was marked with fanfare by the Lokoja Chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN).

The three day event started on Monday, the 10th of August, 2020, with a Road Show which also involved endurance walk round the state capital. It was followed by novelty match on Tuesday the 11. The match was won by the Local Council by a goal to nil. The grand finale was the roundtable discussion.

It is therefore no doubt that the decision of the United Nations to designate the 12th of August as International Youth Day to serve as an annual celebration of the role of young men and women as essential partners in change has been embraced by the youth globally. The Lokoja Local Government Chapter has set the tone for this year and a lot of salient features have arisen to give the youth the launchpad to take their destinies in their own hands.

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