By Patrick Obia
In what was a classical departure from current trends, the Cross River State chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigerian (NYCN) gathered old and young in Calabar to discuss youth-centric issues with a simple message; the youths are the architect of their own future.
That was the summary of the maiden edition of the Cross River State youth convention, which had the theme, “picture the future you want to feature in.”
And, the keynote speaker, Dr. Richard Ekonesi, an alumni and convocation representative in the governing council of the University of Calabar, charged the youths to awake from their slumber.
He said the convention was, “a wake-up call on slumbering youths to arise, shine and make positive impacts in their generation, particularly in this era where the place of youths in today’s society is misplaced,” adding that, “instead of the youths hoping to be leaders of tomorrow, as it is commonly said, rather, what we now know is that the tomorrow is the wasted yesterday and today by today’s leaders.”
Ekonesi’s position, was re-echoed by the Obol Lopon of Ugep and Paramount Ruler of Yakurr Local Government Area, Obol Ofem Ubana who stressed the need for the youths to sustain their destinies.
Nigerians will in 2023 elect a new President as the tenure of the incumbent winds up. And, the monarch said there was need for the youths to abstain from cultism, drugs, and other social vices in order to embrace the future and make themselves positively useful at the polls.
In a similar vein, legal practitioner, Baba Isa Esq. while presenting a paper on mentorship, urged the youths to submit themselves to discipline by getting good mentors who can impact on their chosen careers positively.
He cautioned against the reliance on politics as the only sustainable means to achieving set goals and charged them to “picture a future that is beyond politics.”
The youths constitute a large percentage of the voting population. However, over the years, they have been relegated to the background despite the passage of a law to promote youth inclusiveness. Election costs and internal party struggles have been stumbling blocks. This position was reiterated by the Commissioner for Social Housing, George O’ben-Etchi who said the enemies of the youths were themselves.
And, to scale through this, Nkoyo Toyo, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Ethiopia, implored them to think of partnerships, organise into blocs to negotiate for power and not necessarily fight for it. She said youths had to get into boardrooms and make themselves relevant in all areas and not just the political arena.
The program aimed at bringing youths together for the purpose of positive impact through the provision of networking, mentorship and leadership opportunities, the NYCN said.
“The convention is to have where at the end of every year, we converge and look at what we have achieved so far; how many youths have got job opportunities, introduce mentorship programs, leadership workshops and a whole lot in one day,” Daniel Obo, the NYCN Chairman told CrossRiverWatch in an interview.
He hopes the NYCN will “continue engagement and keep putting youths together,” since it, “did not pay anybody money to come here, everybody you see here is out of goodwill, and it is a belief that this thing is doable; the youth of Cross River have confidence in what we do.”
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