UNIC, NIIA & ECOBANK MARK YOUTH DAY
The 2021 UN International Youth Day came up last Thursday with several events, including a symposium organised by the United Nations Information Centre in partnership with the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), on the theme, “Transforming Food System: Youth Innovation for Human & Planetary Health. The event coincides with the 60th anniversary of NIIA.
The International Youth Day is commemorated every year on 12th August, bringing youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrating the potential of youth as partners in today’s global society.
Another phase of the event, in which UNIC partnered with Strategy for Mentoring Initiative and Leadership Empowerment, (S.M.I.L.E) was a virtual Panel Discussion on the same theme.
In his message to mark the day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted that young people were on the front lines of the struggle to build a better future for all. He said the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the dire need for the kind of transformational change they seek and young people must be full partners in that effort, urging everyone to guarantee young people a seat at the table, “As we build a world based on inclusive, fair, and sustainable development for all.”
At the NIIA event, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Edward Kallon, reaffirmed that young people were Nigeria’s greatest and most valuable resource, stressing that the quality and type of investments made in this human resource by government, determines the trajectory of development and how society can be envisioned in years and decades to come.
He added that strategic investment in young people’s education, health, security, employment, empowerment, effective civil participation, and overall development carries the potential for demographic dividends.
The Director-General of NIIA, Prof. Eghosa Osaghae, in his welcome address, said that there was hope for Nigerian youths, “and the hope can only be actualised by the youths themselves.”
Directing his message to the participants who were mainly undergraduates from four Universities, Professor Osaghae said: “As you look for change, see yourselves in the change process. Take note that digitalisation is not an option but a necessity. You must embrace technology and leverage on it to drive change.”
Hon. Minister of Youth and Sport Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, who was represented by the Special Assistant ICT and Corporate Relations to the Hon. Minister, Ms Oluwakemi Ann-Melody Areola, explained that the youths must be engaged within their space.
Similarly, Ecobank Nigeria organised a special advocacy programme with the theme: “Finding your Voice”, a Career, Creativity and Skills. The panelists included Adeoluwa Enioluwa, a Writer and Public Speaker; Ozinna Anumudu, expert in Fashion and Branding; Jemima Osunde, Actress, Model and Presenter; Bright Okpocha (Basketmouth), Comedian and Actor; Bankole Williams, Consultant and Career Coach; and Hadiza Blell (Di’Ja), Singer and Songwriter.
At the virtual event, each of the panelists were given the opportunity to share their life experiences on career choices, creative talents, and skills, as well as their individual salient attributes that prepared them for the challenges of life.
The consensus of opinion was an advice to Nigerian youths to pursue their passions, instead of money or immediate gains.
Comedian Basketmouth said: “I salute Nigerian youths because they are quite enterprising. However, I will advise them to follow their passion. Do not choose a career to impress anyone, rather let the people validate you. If you have an idea, don’t rush at implementation, sit down with it, put down the structures before you take a move.” Further, he counseled the youth that the driving force for choice of career should not be financial inducement, fame or immediate gains but passion, stressing that it was the clear way to find voice, achieve focus and desired career goal.
Other speakers urged youths not to be desperate but pursue the careers they are happy with and “be ready to work hard at it as that is the only way to have your voice heard”. They stressed that there was no room for laziness, as bills have no respect for persons.
The Head, Direct Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, Mrs. Adetola Oshomah said the digital seminar was part of the bank’s Mobile Xpress (MX) Online Series to give the youths the opportunity to speak, noting that panelists comprising young people who had excelled in their various careers and professions were carefully selected to share their experiences and challenges before they found their voices.
Mrs. Oshomah stated that Ecobank seeks to empower young people by offering them convenient, affordable and accessible financial services anytime and anywhere from their mobile phones – their primary mode of communication.
IMAGE CREDIT: UNIC, ECOBANK