The United Nations has pledged to support policies and investments to unlock potential of youth and girls in Nigeria.
UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, made the pledge when she paid a courtesy visit on Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama in Abuja on Thursday.
The envoy said she was in the country to listen to Nigerian youths and advance their cause.
She said that issues on education such as girls education, rights of girls and young women were at the heart of her visit.
She said that she was in the country to advance investment in sexually reproductive health and information.
”Also to encourage investing in participatory mechanism for young people to participate in decision-making processes.
”The issue of irregular migration is also of paramount importance on the agenda.
“We really hope that Nigeria can play a leading role, leading up to the global compact to really bring the voices of the African group, especially of young people to the negotiations in New York,” Wickramanayake said.
Onyeama, in his remarks, said that the youths were top most on the agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
He noted that President Buhari in his address to the UN General Assembly in 2017, called for the establishment of United Nations Youth.
“We have UN Women and we talk about the youth bulge. It is perfectly logical for us and we feel that it makes a lot of sense to establish that.
” we are very supportive in all that and Africa of course, not just Nigeria, we have a youth bulge and it is very much part of our plan for the future.
”In the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and also, in the Agenda 2063 of the African Union, the youth component is very, very prominent in that,” Onyeama said.
He said to empower and give a voice to the youths, the youths have to participate in the process of charting the way forward globally.
“So, at all levels, we are really taking the issue of empowerment of youths very seriously.
“In Nigeria, we have an Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and the Social Intervention Programme within our plan and a large component
”The programme is devoted to youths: youths unemployment, skills development and vocational training and job creation for the youths,” Onyeama said.
He also identified the issue of girl-child education as a challenge in the country, saying that a lot of work would be done in that regard to address the issue.
“We are very alive to our responsibilities with regards to youths and that inform our support for you, for your office, for the UN’s efforts in this context” the minister said.