Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Wednesday said youth empowerment and gender inclusion remain top priorities of the administration as part of its strategies for inclusive growth and development.
The Governor spoke in Ilorin, the state capital, at a town hall meeting organised by the Kwara State representative at the Northern Governors’ Forum’s Committee on Youth Engagement, Priorities and Inclusion in Governance Kaosarah Adeyi on behalf of the committee.
The committee is one of the government’s response to the recent #EndSARS protest, while the town hall meeting in Ilorin was the first by any state representative on the regional committee.
According to a statement signed by Rafiu Ajakaye Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, AbdulRazaq commended the town hall meeting initiative which brought together panelists who spoke on themes bothering on gender inclusion and youth engagement in governance, as well as dozens of young people from all walks of life.
The Governor, who took time to listen to the conversations around the discourse, observed that the quality of the engagement was encouraging and reaffirmed his belief in young people, and said he would present the report of the town hall meeting for further debate by the northern governors.
“This is truly inspiring and I am impressed by the quality of the attendance and your contributions. It is the kind of engagement we look forward to,” he remarked after listening to presentations by various subgroups at the meeting.
The Governor had earlier explained what his administration was doing for the youths and women.
“Our administration has prioritised youth inclusion in the scheme of things. And for the first time, we have mainstreamed gender inclusion by giving the highest number of appointments to women in the cabinet, ministries, and key parastatals,” he said.
“We have also designed a couple of initiatives that are targeted at youths and women, while investments are being made in the education sector to raise the literacy bar of Kwarans. The upcoming innovation hub, the Visual Arts Centre, the proposed Kwapreneur, and the Digital Kwara are a few examples of such initiatives.
“However, we understand the critical roles that young people must play in the future of our state, hence this meeting. I believe that this town hall meeting is largely representative of Kwarans. It is hoped that this event will help to harvest sustainable solutions to the myriads of challenges holding us back as a people.
“I urge Kwara youth to stand up for what is right at all time without giving in to violence.”
Mrs Kaosarah Adeyi, convener of the town hall meeting, said the event was organised to draw up solutions to some of the issues militating against youth inclusion in governance. She said the meeting was based on the resolutions of the Northern Governors Forum Committee on Youth Engagement, Priorities and Inclusion in Governance, headed by the Emir of Zauzzau, Alhaji Ahmed Nuhu Bamali.
The Committee has a mandate to collate views and suggestions that will be communicated to the Northern Governors’ Forum at the close of deliberation, she said, asking participants to articulate their thoughts on way forward.
“The committee was set up as a result of the resolutions of Northern States Traditional Rulers Council meeting, held on Monday, 2nd November, 2020 and to work out various ways of engaging youths in the north at different levels, prioritise different programmes for youth development in the north, and to identify and develop different platforms for youth inclusion in governance in Nigeria and the north in particular, among other terms of reference,” she explained.
Dr. Aminat Ahmed El-Imam, a university teacher and subgroup leader at the event, lauded the present administration for leading by sample in the campaign against gender discrimination and for exceptionally engaging the younger ones in his cabinet.
She identified age, gender, religion, disability and citizenship as basic demographic features that can be used to measure inclusion in governance, and acknowledged how the Kwara has been fair on religious tolerance.
Nasir AbdulKadir, Founder of Positive Image Consults, urged the government to work with private sectors to midwife an economy that properly engages young people. He suggested sustainable investment in the textile and real estate industries as major ways of giving jobs to young people.
Toba Adeyeye, also a panelist, charged youths to fully take advantage of the enabling environment the government has created for young entrepreneurship, citing the birth of the Enterprise Ministry as a proof of AbdulRazaq’s seriousness to grow businesses and self-reliance.
Rukayat Yahaya of Tamirah Wellbeing Foundation, another panelist, urged young people to expand their knowledge base and to always support one another.
Mrs Yahaya advised the youths to set actionable and achievable goals that they may take happiness from upon completion.