YOUTH ENGAGEMENT FOR GLOBAL ACTION
THE NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS CELEBRATES YOUNG WORKERS ON THE OCCASION OF THE 2020 INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY
The 2020 International Youth Day is very significant coming at a time of great global distress packed with fists of events that challenge both the future of humanity and sustainability of life on the planet. The outbreak of the novel corona virus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and increasing concerns on climate change with an accompanying youth led advocacy all over the world have more than anything else in recent history jolted the global attention on the key question of sustainable development. Clearly, no other demography of society is more affected and more concerned as the youth segment.
According to a 2019 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Report, there are 1.8 billion youth in the world today. This represents more than 20% of the global population. Despite being a significant part of the world population, young people continue to suffer severe limitations to opportunities, resources and support. Currently, 621 million young people aged 15-24 years old are not in education, employment or training. 75 million young people are trained but have no job. In the next decade, one billion young people will enter the labour market, and large numbers of young people face a future of irregular and informal employment. A recent report by the Trading Economics put Nigeria’s youth unemployment rate at 36%. The resource access challenge faced by young people has been exacerbated by Covid-19 and worsening impact of climate change.
The theme of the 2020 International Youth Day, “Youth Engagement for Global Action” captures most succinctly the global pulse in response to the prevailing realities. It seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how youth representation and engagement in formal institutions can be significantly enhanced.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has continued to respond to the global campaign for youth inclusion and mainstreaming. Since 2015, the NLC has taken very deliberate steps not only to include young people in its processes but also to mainstream the youth in the leadership structures of Congress. This verve of desire to give young workers in Nigeria a sense of belonging and ownership in Nigeria’s labour movement was further institutionalized during the 12th National Delegates Conference (NDC) of the NLC held in February 2019 where the NDC, the highest decision making organ of Congress, approved constitutional reforms that give young workers a seat and a voice in the highest reaches of leadership in the NLC.
The steps we have taken are only initial steps aimed at preparing young workers for greater responsibilities in Congress. We have also taken a decision to dedicate a significant quota of training opportunities at our major events to young people. We have also continued to pursue very robustly the policy of exposing our younger comrades to the best training, mentoring and learning opportunities across the world. Currently, some of our young comrades are attending internship programs both in Africa and in other parts of the world. Clearly, learners will eventually become leaders.
In the spirit of this year’s international youth day, we join our voice with progressive voices across the world to demand for expanded opportunities for young people especially with regards to training and mentoring. We demand for improved access to life support social services such as healthcare and universal basic education for young people including youth living with disabilities and HIV/AIDS. We call for reduction of user access fees for youth who aspire to higher education and trainings. We call for an end to workplace discrimination that put a ceiling on the career path of young people. We call for the inclusion of young people in political and institutional decision-making. The older people cannot continue to make unilateral decisions with huge consequences for the future of today’s youth without their active participation. Finally, we must strive to create decent jobs for our young people as idle minds will eventually become the workshops for global insecurity and instability.
With responses as these, we would be effectively engaging the energy of our youth for global action on shared existential threats.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni