The European Union (EU) hosted an event Monday to launch its Youth Sounding Board in Nigeria, inaugurating 25 members that will have an influence on the EU’s development cooperation in the country.

The board members were selected based on merit and with recognition of Nigeria’s diversity, officials said.

The Youth Sounding Board is a space for young people to have an influence on the EU’s external action through its international partnerships. The board will help make EU action more participatory, relevant and effective for young people in Nigeria across all political priorities.

In her introductory remarks, the head of the European Union cooperation in Nigeria, Cecile Tassin-Pelzer, said the EU wants to involve young people. That is why “we have selected representatives of the youths and we really want them to participate in designing our new programmes and be part of decision making.”

We want young people to help us make our projects and programmes more adaptive in their minds, she said.

Ms Tassin-Pelzer said she believes that young people must be involved in shaping and implementing the EU’s external action. She added that the EU and the Nigerian government have agreed to help create job opportunities for young people and also encourage them to participate in the democratic process.

Members of EU Youth Sounding Board.

“The youth are the future of the country and development of Nigeria cannot be achieved without their youth demography which constitutes the majority.

“We want to help them network among themselves and carry them along in economic and social development,” she said. “We will have regular meetings with the members to define how we work.”

At the global youth sounding board, Imrana Buba, a Nigerian from Yobe State, was selected as one of the 25 young people from across the world to work with the EU’s Commissioner for International Partnerships. He was selected through an open call that resulted in 4,000 applications from more than 150 countries.

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Against this backdrop, Nigeria’s minister of youth and sports development, Sunday Dare, appreciated the EU for being a “supportive partner in youth development; both in empowerment and investment.”

Mr Dare said the federal government has made it very clear that it needs to collaborate with various interest groups to achieve youth development. Therefore, the youth sounding board is a welcome idea, he said, adding that the continuous engagement of young people is the only way we can deal with the burning issue of inclusiveness in development.

“I have confidence in the average Nigerian youth and I’m sure the people selected will be good ambassadors to the nation and their communities,” Mr Dare added.

Members of EU Youth Sounding Board.

“The approach to dealing with youth issues must be multifaceted and collaborative. What they are doing today adds another layer to the efforts of the federal government to engage our youths and empower them.”

The minister also said that the federal government has introduced the National Youth Conference which begins from Monday.

The conference will bring together 370 Nigerian youth under one roof to discuss four thematic areas, interrogate critical issues and put together an agenda for action to the Nigerian government, he said.

“This has the approval of the president and we will be working together with the governors to send 10 good delegates from each state that will come together to spend four days. That campaign and process begin effectively today.”

In her remarks, Elizabeth Egharevba, a representative of the National Planning Commission, said the programme is a welcome development in Nigeria given the demography of young people and the need to showcase possibilities in mainstreaming the youth agenda for equity and sustainable development.

“It is well established that the youth sounding board in Nigeria is huge and we as policymakers need to capitalize on this strength. The specific lessons in the context of Nigeria are well noted in the diagnosis of issues for the execution of the Medium Term National Development Plan (MTNDP).”

She said the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is about concluding the MTNDP 2021-2025 and the Nigerian Agenda 2050 Plan, a strategic blueprint for public governance.

“Through the MTNDP, we envisage an increased participation of the young people in governance through existing platforms as well as implementation of relevant legislation in this regard.

“The federal government will therefore leave no stone untouched in giving a voice to all interest groups especially the youth in the implementation of the medium-term plan,” she added.

“I wish to withdraw the attention of the 25 privileged members of the EU sounding board to consider themselves as ambassadors and change agents who are committed to advancing major objectives of the Nigerian EU commission,” Mrs Egharevba said. “Also note that your comportment, courage, conduct, humility, firmness in participation are attributes that can earn you and your country respect and recognition.”


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