The European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, yesterday, inaugurated a 25-member Youth Sounding Board, a body of young Nigerians to help in shaping and implementing EU programmes and strategies in the country.
Charge d’Affaires at the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Alexandre Borges Gomes, said the inauguration was part of EU’s commitment to incorporating young Nigerians in its decision-making process.
He said the members of the EU Youth Sounding Board would have an unpaid mandate of two years, as the Board will serve as a bridge between young Nigerians and the Delegation.
“The Youth Sounding Board will allow young people to have an influence on the policy and programmes of the EU in Nigeria, thereby contributing to making EU action more participatory, relevant and effective for the large young population in Nigeria,” he said.
According to him, members of the Board were selected out of hundreds of applications of young and motivated Nigerians from across the country. “Specifically, you were selected based on your knowledge and experience in one or more of the areas that are of key interest to the EU, including gender equality, youth inclusion, climate change, and culture,” he added.
Speaking during the launch in Abuja, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, called for an implementation agenda for youths to reposition them for leadership roles in the country.
He said the initiative resonates with the ministry’s Digital Skills Entrepreneurship Employability Leadership (DEEL) programme, which is creating new opportunities for the youth population.
“The youth are the leaders of tomorrow, but leadership stems from engaging the leaders today. I have seen the demands on our youth, I have seen the EU, UN, USA, Canada and other countries address world youth issues, but I am yet to see an agenda for action. We need an agenda for action to make the programmes become reality,” he said.
The EU Youth Sounding Board programme, he said, “is a welcome initiative because the continuous engagement of our youth is the way to go, by meeting them at the point of their needs and also charting a career path.”
“I learnt of the programme few weeks ago and it’s important to know what you are working on because as the ministry that supervises the youth, we have the data to support what you are doing. We have the DEEL programme that has become the flagship of youth programmes, which moved from empowerment to creating entrepreneurs and employers of labour.”
He added that 370 youths would converge for the National Youth Conference in October to chart an action plan for the nation’s youths.