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#EndSARS: Nigerian youths have many reasons to demand better future, says Sanwo-Olu

Benjamin Omoike

Access Bank
Lagos state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has stated that Nigerian youths have many reasons to demand for better life and future, saying such demands are heightened by their inability to live and prosper, due to existing socioeconomic and political conditions, amongst other factors rocking the country.

The governor who spoke at the Lagos youth symposium organized by the Ministry of Youth and Social Development, themed: ‘Rebuilding For Greatness, Peaceful Conflict Resolution’, held in Lagos, noted that the symposium was organised to engage over 1500 youth drawn from various voluntary organisations, uniformed organisations, Non Governmental Organisations, National Youth Council of Nigeria Lagos State Chapter, among others.

According to him, the primary objective is to use the platform to network and learn new ways of contributing their quota to rebuilding Lagos and achieving the greater Lagos dream.

The governor, who reminisced that about this time last year, the state and indeed the whole country, witnessed a mass protests against police brutality tagged #EndSars, pointed out that the movement saw a majority of Nigeria’s youth population participating in one of the largest movements since the country’s democratic transition in 1993.

He said: ‘’The protest culminated into wanton destruction of government facilities and individual properties across the nation after the riot on October 20th, forever known as the Black Tuesday.

“This incident sparked global outrage and hoodlums took advantage of the situation and went on rampage looting and burning down, destroying government properties and facilities. In what seems like a calculated attack, the hoodlums ravaged the city of Lagos, leaving many parts of the state with burnt buildings, looted shops and destroyed properties worth billions of Naira. The economy of the country that was already in decline due to so many factors, suffered a huge setback.

‘’Nigerian youth have many reasons to demand for a better life and future, especially in a country where their ability to live and prosper is challenged by existing socioeconomic and political conditions, amongst other factors. The proportion of people living in poverty continues to grow, especially as the COVD-19 rampage continues.

‘’Nigeria’s youth make up the majority of the country’s population, which means that the youths are mostly affected by these statistics of poor people.

‘’The Lagos State Government, being the most hit state in the nation by the effects of the EndSARS protest and the devastating effects of COVID-19 pandemic on its economic and social status, swung into decisive and impactful action immediately, so as to mitigate the effects on its populace.’’

Sanwo-Olu explained that despite the massive destruction of property, as a result of the protests and economic downturn occasioned by the COVD-19 pandemic, the state was able to cope with the challenges.

‘’We embarked on rebuilding the city of Lagos gradually, not only the physical structures, but the citizen’s hope was also rekindled with various palliative measures.

‘’Of utmost importance to us as a government, are the youth population of the state, who form the bulk of the population and its work force. We had embarked on the implementation of series of youth engagement and empowerment activities and programmes through various MDAs, notably of which are Ministries of Wealth Creation and Employment; Arts, Tourism and Culture; Science and Technology; Agriculture; Commerce, Industry & Cooperatives and other agencies.

‘’Some of these programmes which were initiated as part of our efforts to address issues bothering on youth development and empowerment include the remodelling, development and equipping of four Youth Centres across the state namely – Abesan, Lafiaji, Ikorodu and Omituntun Youth Centres. We are also working on the renovation of Ikeja; Popo Oba, Epe; Isheri; Badagry;  Sam Shonibare and Obele Oniwala Youth Centres. These facilities offer both recreational and sporting engagement, as well as opportunities for skill acquisition / vocational training for youths.

‘’We have, in partnership with USAID, created two Youth Hubs at Lafiaji and Araromi Gbagada Youth Centers. These hubs offer leadership, livelihood and life skills to out-of-school youths aged between 15 to 24 years. With this partnership, we hope to reach 25,000 young people during its five-year tenure, with soft skills, leadership competence, social capital and resources, using an approach that enables them reach their full potentials in a safe and youth friendly environment.’’

Governor Sanwo-Olu said his government has also implemented mindset changing and reorientation programmes to build the capacity of young people in the state, to think positively and take up their role in nation building.

‘’Some of these programmes include the Lagos State Youth Leadership Initiatives – Ibile Youth Academy, which produced Youth Ambassadors that are already making waves as change makers in their communities, implementing various life-touching and empowering pet projects, leveraging on local collaboration and resources. Notable among these programmes, also, is the Transformational Leadership Training for Young leaders, which was designed to upscale the leadership capacity of over 2000 participating young leaders physically and virtually in the three senatorial districts of the state.

‘’In a few days, Wednesday 27th October, 2021, to be precise, we will be organising the first of its kind Lagos Police Youth Dialogue session, which will have in attendance over 1000 Police officers and youths in the state, coming together to deliberate on how to strengthen the relationship between them and create a synergy that will improve both their interaction and security situation in the state.’’

Governor Sanwo-Olu added that, ‘’Education and healthcare services are two principal things that top our budget expenditure. Year on year, we have continued to increase our budget for the education and health sectors. We have built the finest school in Lagos, it is in Elemoro, Ibeju Lekki. It will be commissioned next month. You will be happy when you see that school. It is a brand new school. We are building brand new schools with all the infrastructure provided in the schools.’’

He said his government has operated an open door policy and maintained a robust engagement, serviced by effective feedback mechanism to ensure that the residents’ yearnings and aspirations are met.

Also speaking, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Lagos State University (LASU), Professor Wahab Elias, who was the guest speaker, noted that conflicts are inevitable in any society, saying it is how the conflict is managed that matters.

Elias urged the youths to always negotiate their demands with the authority, saying engaging in conflicts that are not progressive could destroy any society.

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