By: Idara Philips
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – Chairman Northern States Governors’ Forum, (NSGF), and Plateau state Governor, Hon. Simon Lalong, on Wednesday inaugurated the Emir of Zazzau-led Committee on Youth and Civil Societies in response to recent #EndSARS protests across the country.
The committee nominated by the NSGF in their last meeting with Northern States Council of Emirs and Chiefs and other stakeholders, has been given the mandate to identify, and develop different platforms for youth’ inclusion in the governance architecture in the North and has eight weeks to submit its report.
Headed by the Emir of Zazzau, Ambassador Ahmed Bamalli, the Committee is also saddled with the responsibility of working out various ways of engaging the youth at various levels of Northern Nigeria.
Lalong while inaugurating the committee also disclosed that the Forum has received a report of its security committee, saying the region must tackle the current challenges of insecurity in its attempt to create a conducive environment for its youth to develop.
According to him, “This committee is very significant not only because of recent issues related to the ENDSARS protests and its subsequent hijack that led to looting, vandalization and destruction of public and private properties, but because of strategic role that youths play in the socio-economic and political development of the nation.
“We are well aware that youth form a bulk of the population of the region and the nation, and as such have a great role to play in the destiny of the country. Their voices must not only be heard, but their opinions and views should always be carried along in governance.
“Here in the Northern Region, the challenges facing the youth are enormous and very well known to us. These include unemployment, illiteracy, crime, drug abuse among others.
“As leaders, we must not only address these challenges, but also engage the youths in a manner that they own the process to make any initiative successful and long lasting
“That is why the assignment of this committee is very crucial in our agenda of changing the fortunes of our youth from despondency to hope and from few opportunities to vast windows for self-realization and wealth creation.
“Our region is blessed with human and material resources particularly in agriculture which if properly harnessed, can turn around the unpleasant condition of our youths and enable them take the lead in the emancipation of the region. This is bearing in mind that sooner than later, they are going to be in the saddle of leadership.
“In creating that conducive environment for our youth to flourish, we must tackle the current challenges of insecurity in the region which are dominated by insurgency, kidnapping, banditry and other conflicts. We shall continue to work with the gederal government and security agencies to tackle crime and criminality.
“That is why we have supported comprehensive reform of the policing architecture in the country, far beyond the scrapping of SARS, to the implementation of Community Policing and the proper funding and training of police personnel.
“The Northern Governors Forum is not against the disbandment of SARS, as misconstrued in some quarters. We have rather cautioned against the blanket condemnation of the police that can erode the confidence and zeal of hardworking and honest ones to perform their duties of protecting lives and properties.
“This Committee is also saddled with the responsibility of creating a robust interface with members of the civil society within the region, to enable us to collate all shades of opinions and views that will strengthen governance, accountability as well as generate a proper feedback mechanism that will enhance development. Civil society will create the platform for government and citizens to synergize and work together for the good of the society.
“The terms of Reference of this panel are: To work out various ways of engaging the youths in the North at different levels; Prioritize different programmes for youth development in the North; Identify and develop different platforms for youth inclusion in the governance architecture in Nigeria and the North in particular and any other recommendations deemed relevant by the committee.”
Lalong also clarified the recent position of the Northern Governors on social media regulation, saying that the Forum’s stand does not intend to gag, muzzle or suppress freedom of speech and expression of Nigerians, but mere advocacy for responsible and accountable use of social media.
Responding, Chairman of the Committee and Emir of Zazzau, Ambassador Ahmed Bamalli, expressed appreciation to the NSGF for the confidence reposed in him to lead the youths committee, adding that as someone who is not far from the age bracket of youth, he will lead the panel to deliver quality recommendations for implementation.
Members of the 30-man committee include: Sen. Ibrahim Hadejia; Women Affairs Minister, Mrs. Pauline Tallen; Kaduna CAN Secretary, Rev. Sunday Ibrahim, JNI Secretary General Dr. Khalid Aliyu, and Secretary to the Government of Kaduna state, Balarabe Lawal, who serves as Secretary.