University Dons, social and environmental rights activist and other resource speakers have expressed concerns over the huge gap in youth participation and contributions to nation building as well as, in environmental management, especially in Africa.

This was the position of various speakers at 2019 United Nation International Youth Day commemoration with the theme: “Transforming Education; rooted in SDG goal 4, goal 5 (Gender equality), 13 (climate action) and 17 (strong institutional partnership) respectively, held at Federal University of Petroleum Resource (FUPRE), Effurun, Delta state recently.

The event was package by a non-governmental organizations, African Centre for Climate Actions and Rural Development (ACCARD) in collaboration with Federal University of Petroleum Resource (FUPRE), Effurun Delta State; FUPRE SDG Desk office, Climate and Sustainable Development Network (Csdevnet), Environews, SDG Radio and Centre for Environment and Sustainable Livelihood Project (CESLP).

Various Speakers at the colourful event harped on the fundamental roles of the youths in rapid human and economic development as well as, in climate management of nations.

According to them, young people seems ready, however ill-equipped to assume leadership roles, due to poor knowledge of important sectors functionalities.

However, the future development of any nation as well as their climate management solutions, requires young people making concerted efforts and taking up responsibilities by themselves, they averred.

According to the resource persons, most countries including the United Nations, through their instrument of governance have been promoting youth involvement and participation in governance.

That notwithstanding, a huge gap still exist in youth roles and contributions to both nation and economic development globally, especially in Nigeria and Africa at large, they said.

Speaking, Comrade Sunny Ofehe, a social and environmental right activist and the Executive Director of the Hope for the Niger Delta Campaign (HNDC) Netherlands who was the keynote speaker for the event, said although he is anytime proud being a Nigerian, government need to marshal out a broad-based policies for youths development, whilst highlighting his experience living in a well planned and working dutch society, unlike Nigeria.

He admonished a whole new youth perception to choosing their leaders that would secure their future and give purpose to living, speaking of his experience in the 2019 Governorship election consultation in Delta state. 

According to Ofehe, “an acceptance of campaign carrot is like mortgaging your future” and therefore urged the youths to refrain from being willing tools in the hands of moneybags and be nation builders by participating as equal stakeholders in the electioneering process that would give birth to purposeful leadership.

Delivering a lecture entitled: “Youth role in Climate and Environmental Management”, Prof. Olomukoro John Ovie, lamented that the young people mindset towards learning, governance and climate and/or environmental management.

Whilst all the speakers advocated for attitudinal change, as well as individual capacity development, Prof. Olomukoro went further to provide some smart climate solutions to include waste-to-wealth business initiatives, solar projects and government digitalization of environmental studies across the country, with the possibility of a youth developing an app and advocating for e-platform for accessing such stundies.

Also, speaking on the topic, “Prescription for Transforming 21st Century Educational System”, Dr. Obi Amos, encourage the Nigerian youths to use the internet to their advantages and grow genuine wealth from its use.

The occassion however decried the huge gap in youth participation and contributions to nation building as well as, in environmental management, especially in Africa.

Young people seems ready, however ill-equipped to assume leadership roles, due to poor knowledge of important sectors functionalities, the speakers said.

The acting Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Petroluem Resources, Effurun, Delta State Prof. Akpofure Rim-Rukeh while thanking the organisers for hosting the event in the University, clamoured for a holistic modernization of the Nigeria educational system, by suggesting an improvement in the presenting educational curriculum to match both industrial and governance need.

According to the VC, entrepreneurship skills and industrial-based learning is key to any nation building.

Earlier, Centre Coordinator for African Centre for Climate Action and Rural Development (ACCARD) Initiative, Oluowo Elohor Freeman, while speaking said Nigeria and Africa can become the desired development in terms of infrastructure, security and climate, if only young people can engage and participate actively in policy as well as development initiatives, however must be done constructively.

According to Freeman, the slogan “the future belongs to the youth” means today. As such, young people must take initiative now, seek good mentorship and engage in education which is a lifelong learning opportunity, and other capacity building options, to lead in the different sectors in Nation andbuilding  global economy.

“Otherwise, we will inherit and imbibe similar conventional approach to governance and leadership changes they complain about. He concluded by saying that, amongst those in attendance will be leaders of different sectors of nations in Africa and the world”, he added.

This, they said have been blamed in part on the falling standard of education and low governmental investment as well as support towards learning as a lifelong opportunities including youth efforts themselves.