The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare has charged that the maiden edition of the National Youth Day celebration should be used to reflect, take stock and chart a new youth action plan that tackles the issues that confront Nigeria's teeming youth population.
The Federal Executive Council this year approved every November 1 as National Youth Day.
In his address at the event, the Minister noted that now is the best time to celebrate the youth and validate their contributions to national economic development against the backdrop of all that the country has witnessed in the past three weeks.
“With the Protests that have occurred across the country, Nigeria stands at the cusp of change in youth development. Already, that change has begun. What is needed is to deepen the youth initiatives and accelerate the onboarding of beneficiaries in a transparent and effectual manner.
“Nigeria must license a new tribe of youth investment banks with single-digit loans dedicated to our youth. Through the NYIF, the FG has set the tone and leading the way.
“Today, on the occasion of the National Youth Day we showcase to the world 10 winners of the 60-day APP challenge competition and 5 young innovators in different fields. 15 youth who represent the lot and reminds us of the power of our youth.
“I must return momentarily to the EndSars protest. Mr. President’s abiding faith in our youth saw to his meeting the 5 demands of the protesting youth. He was convinced that the acts of brutality of whatever against the youth and the larger Nigerian population needed to be addressed. The President activated all necessary levels of government to deal with the demands of the youth. That is the way of an effectual President.
“In my opinion, no institution meant to protect Nigerians should be allowed to be distorted in too many instances to torment Nigerians. Once a good and functional ideal, SARS became a burden on the people.
“The activities of the bad SARS officers had violently undermined the reputation and function of the squad. It became an unfortunate tragedy by the harsh mistreatment of innocent youth and other Nigerians.
“Police brutality is neither a hallmark of democracy nor is it the stamp of this administration. Yet, something went wrong. Your courage and commitment to organize and then carry out peaceful protests brought this grave issue to the attention of the highest levels of this government.
“Here it is important to continue to act based on the premise that we all want the best for Nigeria and that the other person is motivated by good faith. President and his government care for the people.
“Yet, all in all, the youth-led protests have done the nation and its people a service. Good police action helps all of us but police misconduct adversely touches Nigerians of every demographic. By demonstrating for an end to brutality you have enhanced the liberties and freedoms of all Nigerians.
“Thus, I salute the courage of the Nigerian youth for finding their voice, for mobilizing, for staying on message by keeping the peace during your protests that we may have even more peace. Your demands for action, and deep-rooted reforms, including adequate funding of our Police, show that you are seeking pragmatic solutions to real problems.
“In essence, you had the fruitful insight to seek aid for the very Police that have inflicted hardship on you because you realize that only an improved police will better serve you. In essence, you seek not to destroy but to build better than before.
“As Youth, you seek the path of a new more just Social and Political Order but that better order can never be born or emanate from disorder and chaos. Better to seek the path of reform that builds on the extant democratic foundation, that recognizes initiatives this administration has already commenced but will also not hesitate to push and urge government to move faster and further if you believe that will better serve the nation.
“Thus, government and the youth must embrace dialogue. This President and his administration will speak to you frankly and in good faith. There will be honest dialogue but no false promises on one hand or unfair suppression on the other.
“The youth must be sufficiently fair-minded to assess the facts and the situation. Do not swallow the ugly narratives peddled with malicious intensity by organizations that politically oppose the President.
“They seek to paint him as uncaring and hateful toward you. This is an unfair lie. The President cares deeply. He profits nothing when an innocent Youth or Nigerian is hurt, harassed or killed by those hired to protect them.
“He is engaged in a dogged battle against vested interests that had literally hijacked the soul of the country over decades and are intent on avoiding accountability.
“This means, he is more than willing to dialogue with you because you both seek reform albeit sometimes in different ways with different priorities. As a father figure, the President has always maintained that his actions will ultimately prove that he always saw the youth as our greatest assets.’’