We, the Youth from the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria working in the areas of governance, peace and security convened in Abuja, from the 4th to 6th September 2019 to deliberate on strategies that could be jointly undertaken to address the diverse threats to peace and security in Nigeria and facilitate meaningful participation of youth in peace and security.
• Within the framework of the Youth4Peace Nigeria initiative jointly convened by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sport Development, ECOWAS Commission and African Union with support from the European Union, German Development Agency, WANEP and Baywood Foundation, we reviewed the major causes and manifestations of violent conflicts in Nigeria, existing strategies by the government and relevant stakeholders to address the conflicts, challenges hindering effective youth participation in peace and security and made recommendations to the government, relevant stakeholders and fellow youth to transform the multiplicity of governance and human security challenges confronting the nation.
• As part of collective efforts to promote and foster national unity, peace and socio-economic transformation, we have crafted three major aspirations of the Nigeria We Desire and the Future We Deserve with the hope that the government will work towards achieving this envisaged Nigeria. We are also demanding the conducive platform to contribute to the promotion of sustainable peace, security and development.
• The aspirations of the Nigeria We Desire and The Future We Deserve are:
o An inclusive Nigeria where good governance is underpinned by transparency, accountability, human rights, rule of law and justice;
o A united, patriotic and peaceful Nigeria that prioritizes equal opportunities especially the welfare of young women and men;
o An economically viable and progressive Nigeria driven by active youth participation in industrialization and sustainable infrastructural development.
To achieve the aforementioned aspirations; the following recommendations are made to the government and youth:
To the Government:
• Promote good governance demonstrated by adherence to rule of law, egalitarianism, principles of transparency and accountability;
• Develop, adopt and implement policies that promote national cohesion, peace, economic viability and industrialization
• Ensure the inclusivity of young women and men in the development and implementation of governance, peace and security policies and programmes
• Promote and exhibit the spirit of patriotism, putting the interest of Nigeria first and above personal and ethnic or political interests.
• Actively engage in governance and act as agents of moral social change and peace
• Equip themselves with political, social economic skills and capacity to facilitate their meaningful and impactful interventions on peace and nation building
We acknowledge the diverse efforts currently implemented by the government to actualize the above aspirations including the adoption of the national youth policy, the operationalization of the youth parliament, the reduction of eligibility criteria to facilitate the election of youth in diverse elective positions; the deployment of security agencies to maintain peace, law and order in conflict areas, poverty eradication programmes, amnesty programmes etc.
To achieve our aforementioned envisaged roles and responsibilities, we hope that the diverse challenges confronting our meaningful participation of youth in peace and nation building across four sectors – governance, democracy and elections; conflict prevention and peacebuilding; preventing and countering violent extremism as well as other socio-economic economic issues will be addressed by the government and relevant stakeholders with complementary roles by us.
Some of these challenges include: limited-funding opportunities, nepotism especially over individuals and organizations that manipulate grants or sub-grant process by awarding grants to preferred organizations rather than qualified; persistent insecurity where youth actors are often victims; weak coordination amongst CSOs; inadequate capacity of youth; limited capacity and structures for Monitoring and Evaluation of interventions; negative perception of youth interventions on peacebuilding; limited capacity for early warning and political will for early response; political interference, increasing number of undocumented IDP hinders effective delivery of aid and relief materials; religious and cultural intolerance.
Our recommendations are two fold:
To the Government:
• Develop, adopt and implement a national action plan on UNSCR 2250 in tandem with Article 14 of the AU Youth Charter and ECOWAS Youth Policy including creation of special unit on youth, peace and security within the presidency and Ministry of Youth and Sports Development;
• Institutionalize a youth development fund on governance and peacebuilding;
• Foster collaboration and partnership with youth led and oriented CSOs especially in designing and implementing programmes;
• Creation of job opportunities and livelihood opportunities to reduce the vulnerabilities of youth to violent extremism, drug abuse and other social vices
• Fully operationalize the national early warning and response mechanisms with the objective of adhering and responding to potential triggers of violence;
• Should step-up all state channels for mass literacy while incorporating/strengthening the teaching of global citizenship
• Increased private sector support for peace through corporate social responsibility (CSR);
• Conduct census in Internally Displaced Camps to facilitate effective delivery of food and non-food aid to victims of both man-made and natural disasters and conflicts
• Ensure massive national re-orientation to dissuade religious, cultural and inter-ethnic tolerance to foster peace, security and national cohesion.
• An inclusive budgeting process & timely release of funds for programme implementation
• Review the educational system to incorporate peace education as well as match curricula with diverse vocational skills.
To the Youth:
• Collaborate with government and relevant stakeholders to eradicate corruption, and advocate to local power holders including security to secure their trust and support throughout the life span of any initiative
• Conduct strategic communications before and after engagements on conflict prevention and peace building;
• Exhibit tolerance, perseverance and collectively reject all forms of violence ideologies;
• Explore crowd-sourcing fund towards peace-building including collaborations between their respective organizations to optimize scarce resources;
• Participate in the use of automated systems to monitor and report any miscreant ongoing activities and should aid in an automated delivery and distribution of humanitarian relief.
• Harness their potentials, unite and leverage on capabilities and skills for community engagement and re-orientation while strengthening existing and establish new networks for peace and nation building.
A Communique from the Baywood Foundation/African Union/European Union/WANEP/ ECOWAS Youth4Peace Nigeria conference