Covenant News

Youths Charged to lead in National, Global Renaissance for a Prosperous World

A Federal Commissioner with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Kunle Ajayi, has decried the current situation in the world, where most vices, from conflict to terrorism, are perpetrated by the youth.

Professor Ajayi raised the issue when he delivered the keynote address at the 3rd Covenant University International Model United Nations (CIMUN). According to him, where the youths were not the perpetrators, they were the ready instruments in the hands of the devious but financially privileged elements among the older generation to implement their evil agenda. He said this was because the youths were impressionable and easily vulnerable to manipulation.

He said what the youth did not realise was that they had the power of numbers to overwhelm the obnoxious elements who tried to use them. “In Nigeria in particular, with over 33 million people from 15-35 years of age, and persons between 0-14 years making up 43%, the youth have the potentials to practically dictate the social and political pace and indeed can virtually take over the country,” he stated.

Professor Ajayi said the failure of the youth to take advantage of the numerical strength was a function of the ignorance of their power, and their warped orientation positioned them as entities less prepared for the future than the current crop of leaders in the public domain.

The Professor of Security Studies admonished the nation’s youth to make the most of the MUN initiative to develop their leadership capacity and to sharpen a required skill set to manage the affairs of the nation, with the consciousness that the future of the nation rests squarely on their shoulders.

In addition, Professor Ajayi said hunger had been one of the crucial reasons for many national problems, as it made the people vulnerable and could push them into compromising their integrity, including on electoral decisions.

According to him, starving men and women would compromise their integrity and engage in dangerous trades, including petty stealing, prostitution or coveting public funds, all in the quest to stay alive.

Professor Ajayi said the desperation for survival had remained the most critical of all human desperations, with every other kind of struggle becoming secondary. He said food and insecurity go hand-in-hand, but they appeared to have been the scarcest commodities in Nigeria over the years.

In his remarks, the Country Director, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, Mr Ronald Kayanja, said the CIMUN event was happening at a time when the world faced many global challenges, which ranged from the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) to the disastrous effects of a changing climate – famine, floods, fires and extreme heat.

These, according to him, were some of the issues that kept UN diplomats awake every day, and it was with renewed hope that participants would step in their shoes to face some of those issues during the Model UN in Covenant. He noted that the theme for the MUN event was both timely and pertinent.

The UN Envoy said Nigeria was witnessing a growing number of restless young people frustrated by the lack of opportunity, increased competition for jobs, land, natural resources, and political patronage.

Mr Kayanja, however, noted that the situation was not all bleak, as some solutions must be discussed at the event. According to him, there was the need to ensure increased participation of young people in decision-making processes because the youth are not just leaders of tomorrow; they were the leaders of today. As such, they must be part of peace processes and the overall governance of societies.

“We have seen pressure mounting from young people through movements like ENDSARs and ‘Not Too Young to Run.’ Young people may not be invited to the table. You must force yourselves onto the table,” he declared.

He noted that human capital development is key to national development, thus the need to provide young people with the requisite skills that would enable them to innovate and dominate the environment they face in the 21st century. He charged the delegates to seek skills that would make them relevant in the present age.

Mr Kayanja said the Agenda 2030 and the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals had provided the broader environment that would enable young people to flourish, through development that met the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to thrive.

Declaring the 3rd CIMUN opened, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Abiodun H. Adebayo, said the United Nations has been very prominent in efforts to promote international peace and security as part of its mission to improve the well-being of the global community.

According to him, the actions of the UN has helped foster a sustainable development mindset among people everywhere, shaping the future of life on the planet. “The future we desire has been encapsulated in the 17 SDGs with a framework to tackle prevailing threats to global prosperity, social well-being, and the environment,” he posited.

Professor Adebayo said while young people have constantly provided a significant pool of diverse talents yearning for expression for the benefit of society, however, they are constrained from fully expressing their abilities and actively participating in community life due to limitations imposed by climate change, forced displacement, demographic changes, inequalities, and changing labour markets. According to him, “The relegation of young people in the socio-economic space creates an atmosphere of hopelessness and distrust, systems and structures deficit, contributing to national, regional, and global insecurity.”

He averred that young people worldwide strive for the advancement of the rule of law, gender equality and demand participation in society's economic and political process. He called for the harnessing of the inherent potentials in them and seeing to it that their constraints are addressed. “Conscious efforts must be made to develop our youth for a leadership role in society. Through programmes like CIMUN, our youth can develop social, ethical, emotional, physical, and cognitive competencies, build capacity to analyze their strengths and weaknesses, set personal and vocational goals, and have the self-esteem, confidence, motivation, and abilities to participate in community life, fostering lasting peace,” Professor Adebayo added.

In his welcome remarks, the CIMUN Convener, Professor Sheriff Folarin, said to realize the collective dream of a better United Nations; a more stable, peaceful, pandemic-free and prosperous world, and ultimately to realize sustainable peace and security, the world would not only be seeking academically qualified people to reengineer the current framework but would, above all things, need younger people to be mentally, morally and spiritually prepared for the herculean but all-important task of making the desired fundamental change.

Professor Folarin said the younger people with fresh ideas and juvenile innocence could change the course of happenings in the world, noting that while experience mattered and the elders were available to provide the guide and required experience, the world needed the energy of the younger generation to build or rebuild. “For sustainable peace and security in the global system, experience is not enough. Youthful energy and ideas are sine qua non,” he added.

He admonished the youths to seek good examples, and such models were available when they identify and bond with good mentors because such mentors take them through life’s lessons and represent the compass that would put the younger generation on the path of honour. “It is important to know how our world was formed and be taught how to avoid troubles that look similar to previous ones, and how to adopt or adapt solutions that worked for society in the past,” he posited.

Professor Folarin solicited for the adoption of altruistic values as against selfish and greedy tendencies, which were harbingers of violence and chaos. “You must choose today which kind of leader you wish to be; a selfish one or a selfless leader? For an enduring peace and stability, good leadership exemplified in honesty, integrity and selflessness has to be a lifestyle for every youth in our society,” he stated.

He challenged the delegates at the 3rd CIMUN to embrace the vision of greatness inherent in their various nations, noting that their vision could take them to the very top of their aspiration and become the launchpad for reaching national and global leadership. “Leadership starts with a vision and a personal decision. Then it evolves through initiatives, innovations, and creativity of individuals,” he asserted.

The theme of the 3rd Covenant University International Model United Nations was ‘Road to a Lasting Peace: Leveraging the Power of Youth for Peace and Security’ It attracted participants across the 6 geopolitical zones of Nigeria and with some virtual international participants.

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