THE European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS on Monday inaugurated a 25-member Youth Sounding Board, a body of young Nigerians, who will help in shaping and implementing EU programmes and strategies in the country for more inclusiveness.
The union said the inauguration was part of its commitment to incorporating young Nigerians in its decision-making process.
Speaking at the event in Abuja, Charge d’Affaires at the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Alexandre Gomes, said the members of the EU-YSB will have an unpaid mandate of two years, noting that the board serves as a bridge between young Nigerians and the EU Delegation.
He stated, “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.”
According to Gomes, the board members were selected based on their 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, out of hundreds of applications from across the country.
The diplomat observed that the 25 youths had a proven track record of playing outstanding roles in their communities, both online and offline, and had set up and participated in creative and innovative initiatives to empower youth at the grassroots level.
“The EU, therefore, believes that the future of Nigeria will largely depend on the ability to provide young Nigerians with opportunities for employment, education, health and access to decision-making processes,” Gomes stated.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of Youths Development and Sports, Sunday Dare, described the board as a window of opportunity for the youths, stressing the need for agenda for action.
The minister claimed that the Federal Government is fighting poverty with various empowerment initiatives, noting that about 6,000 Nigerians have benefitted from the Nigerian Youths Investment Fund since its establishment last year.
Dare stated, “Exactly one month from today, we are going to have the first national youth conference; 370 Nigerian youths under one roof, meeting for four days on five thematic areas. They will set an agenda for action and present it to the Federal Government. We believe that would be a major event for our youths.”
Speaking on behalf of other board members, Ismail Bello said he was excited to be amongst the first set of beneficiaries of the initiative even as he urged the EU to sustain it as a way of creating opportunities for young people and youth organisations to express their views, connect and exchange ideas.