The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has said that deliberate efforts must be made to prepare the children and youth of Nigeria to become the leaders of tomorrow we desire them to be.
He said such efforts must include involving them in governance and expanding the democratic space to accommodate many young people.
Gbajabiamila, who was speaking at the National Children’s Dialogue to mark the 2021 Universal Children’s Day in Abuja on Saturday, explained that this was the reason he championed an amendment to the Electoral Bill, 2021 for the use of Direct Primaries by political parties as a method of choosing candidates for elective offices.
The dialogue had the theme, “The Nigerian Child and the National Unity Project.”
Gbajabiamila stated that with direct primaries, a youth with leadership qualities had equal chances of becoming a candidate for an elective office just like any other person.
The speaker noted that this was one of the surest ways of securing the future of Nigeria, by giving people with multiple ideas the opportunity to be at the very top of governance.
He said, “That debate on direct primaries, which I championed, is about the future of our country. Our position in the 9th House of Representatives is that everyone must have equal opportunities to participate in governance and the democratic process…
“Our young people must have a seat at the high table and we must create the enabling environment for them to be in leadership such that a young man with bold ideas can come out to vie for any position, be it legislator, governor or any other office. That can only be achieved through direct primaries, which will give a fair chance to the youth of this country to be involved in governance.”
Gbajabiamila called for huge investment in youth education, particularly technology, which the speaker said had transformed the world from what it used to be into a global village, delivering services and innovations at an unprecedented speed.
He added, “Technology has changed our world. We no longer exist in communal or national silos but as part of a broad fabric of humanity in a global village where opportunities and challenges abound. In this new world where a child with a computer and internet connection in Lagos can compete for jobs in Texas or Bombay, our job as leaders is to ensure that every Nigerian child is educated and empowered to compete in and succeed in this global marketplace of ideas and talent.”
However, Gbajabiamila told the session that to deliver on this obligation, all hands should be on the deck to make Nigeria a peaceful place to live.
According to him, securing the future means tackling the myriads of security challenges bedevilling the country squarely to bequeath a safe nation to our children.
“Peace is a necessary condition for development and progress. The present insecurity and the rampaging uncertainty it creates across the land represent the single biggest threat to the wellbeing of our nation’s children and the security of their future.
“We must wage the battle for peace with a warrior’s resolve because everything depends on our victory over the forces that threaten our country and risk the future of our country”, he stated.
To this end, the speaker informed the audience of the resolve of the House to continue to make legislative interventions that would help the executive to overcome the security challenges.
Gbajabiamila added, “The 9th House of Representatives has situated national security interventions at the top of our priorities in recognition of this. We have in the past year initiated legislative action to reform our national security infrastructure, improve funding for national security intervention and ensure effective oversight of resources allocated to protecting our country and defending our people from dangers within and external.
“We will continue in this regard because, as I said before, success in every other area depends on our success in this regard. ”
The Speaker commended the Board and Management of the Children Of Africa Leadership And Values Development Initiative (CALDEV), led by Rep. Bamidele Salam, for initiating the dialogue series.
Speaking earlier, Salam explained the purpose of the project was to build “exemplary” children with all the qualities that would lead Nigeria to become a truly great country.
Children and participants from various schools and bodies featured in the dialogue and a series of other events lined up for the day.