By Joan Nwagwu
Abuja – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Tuesday called for inclusion of young people in political and institutional decision-making in the country.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, made the call in Abuja in a congratulatory message to mark the 2020 International Youth Day celebration with the theme, “Youth Engagement for Global Action”.
“In the spirit of the 2020 international youth day, we join our voice with progressive voices across the world to demand for expanded opportunities for young people especially with regard to training and mentoring.
“We demand for improved access to life support social services such as healthcare and universal basic education for young people including youth living with disabilities and HIV/AIDS.
“We call for reduction of user access fees for youth who aspire to higher education and trainings.
“We call for an end to workplace discrimination that puts a ceiling on the career path of young people.
“We call for the inclusion of young people in political and institutional decision-making.
“The older people cannot continue to make unilateral decisions with huge consequences for the future of today’s youth without their active participation.
“Finally, we must strive to create decent jobs for our young people as idle minds will eventually become the workshops for global insecurity and instability,” he said.
Wabba added that with responses as these, we would be effectively engaging the energy of our youth for global action on shared existential threats.
The NLC president noted that currently 621 million young people aged 15-24 years old were not in education, employment or training and that 75 million young people were trained but have no job.
Wabba said that in the next decade, one billion young people would enter the labour market, and large numbers of young people would face a future of irregular and informal employment.
He, however, noted that a recent report by the Trading Economics had put Nigeria’s youth unemployment rate at 36 per cent.
“The resource access challenge faced by young people have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and worsening impact of climate change.
“The theme of the 2020 International Youth Day, “Youth Engagement for Global Action”, captures most succinctly the global pulse in response to the prevailing realities.
“It seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes.
“It as well draws lessons on how youth representation and engagement in formal institutions can be significantly enhanced.
“The International Youth Day is very significant coming at a time of great global distress packed with fists of events that challenge both the future of humanity and sustainability of life on the planet.
“The outbreak of the novel pandemic and increasing concerns on climate change with an accompanying youth-led advocacy all over the world have more than anything else in recent history jolted the global attention on the key question of sustainable development,” he said.
He added that no other demography of society was more affected and more concerned as the youth segment.
He further said that the congress would continue to respond to the global campaign for youth inclusion and mainstreaming.
Wabba also noted that since 2015, the NLC had taken very deliberate steps not only to include young people in its processes but also to mainstream the youth in the leadership structures of Congress.
“This verve of desire to give young workers in Nigeria a sense of belonging and ownership in Nigeria’s labour movement was further institutionalised during the 12th National Delegates Conference (NDC), of the NLC held in February 2019.
“The highest decision making organ of Congress had approved constitutional reforms that give young workers a seat and a voice in the highest reaches of leadership in the NLC.
“The steps we have taken are only initial steps aimed at preparing young workers for greater responsibilities in congress.
We have also taken a decision to dedicate a significant quota of training opportunities at our major events to young people,” he added.
According to him, we have also continued to pursue very robustly policy of exposing our younger comrades to the best training, mentoring and learning opportunities across the world.
Wabba noted that currently some of the young comrades were attending internship programs both in Africa and in other parts of the world, adding that clearly, learners would eventually become leaders.