The European Union (EU) has said it is building partnerships between young Africans and their European counterparts because young people will remain critical in addressing current global challenges, including the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and making the world a better place.
At the national youth conference organised by the federal ministry of youths and sports in Abuja, the EU commissioner for international partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said youths are not only the future, but also constitute the largest generation of young people in history.
Urpilainen said she had mandated EU delegations across Africa to establish a youth sounding board to ensure youths are mainstreamed into their decision-making processes to reflect diversity and inclusivity.
The EU youth sounding board in Nigeria was launched in Abuja in September. The board, she noted, helps Nigerian youths to share their voices and participate in shaping EU policies and programmes.
According to the EU commissioner, Nigerian youths play a central role in ensuring peace, resolving conflicts and shaping policies in education, health, climate change, security and job creation for the overall development of the country.
“In Nigeria, seven youths out of ten are under 30 years old. Whether it’s politics, economy, or the EU-Nigeria partnership, we need youth participation. That is why this Nigerian National Youth Conference is so important. Youth is a top priority in the EU’s partnership with Africa,” she said.
Underscoring the importance of building partnerships between young people of the two continents, Urpilainen said: “That is why we created the African Union-European Union Youth Cooperation Hub. I hope you will join it because only by working together can we tackle the shared global challenges. I wish you a wonderful conference.”
Also speaking during a presentation, Precious Uchechi Eze, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member and a member of the recently inaugurated European Union Youth Sounding Board (YSB) in Nigeria, said the NYSC is proposing to set up a Trust Fund for Corps Members, that will serve as a support system for the corps members facing various challenges during their service period.
She said the Trust Fund will be designed to provide accommodation, safer and seamless transportation of corps members from their respective states to their state of posting as well as encompass entrepreneurship and innovation hub; (post camp) Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Department (SAED), that will avail corps members the opportunity to continue learning various skills and equip them to launch businesses.
Eze opined that the intent of creating the Trust Fund is justified in view of the achievements NYSC has accumulated over the years, especially in the area of rural development in the health and education sector.
She said the NYSC is proposing to raise fund for the Trust Fund through legislative backed donor contributions from spirited individuals, private organizations, corporate organizations and the government.
Eze said that steps are being taken by the NYSC to ensure that the proposal is translated into reality.
She added that the NYSC management has made giant efforts to push the proposal to relevant quarters to seek approval, support and backing.