Nigerian youths have been given 18 slots out of the 492 delegates that will be present at the proposed National Conference, but in a population with 65 per cent youth, that has been described as a poor representation.
The low number has become a thing of concern to Nigerian youths and two commentators on Channels Television’s programme, Rubbin’ Minds, expressed fears that the youth would not be adequately represented.
One of the commentators, Mr Atom Lim, pointed out that the youths had not been adequate representation from the onset.
“If you look at the composition of the committee that brought up the modalities for this conference, there were professors, retired military men and no young person was there. It had a fundamental problem. Young people have been cheated,” he said.
The Presidential Advisory Committee on National Conference had stressed that there should be no ‘no go areas’. But the Secretory to the Government of the Federation, Pius Ayim, said that the issue of national unity was a ‘no go area’.
Mr Lim said that such prohibitions would generate disagreement, as some people would say the unity issue is a major issue that should be looked at.
“They are going into the conference with the notion that the unity of the nation should not be discussed.
“The young Nigerian is concerned about his welfare and other issues that affect him as a person. If we go our separate ways it will not change anything and some people are only benefitting from the call for disintegration,” he said.
Rinsola Abiola said that the 18 delegates’ representation was an ‘unfair representation’.
“The odds are against the youth. The conference should have a good demographic representation,” she said.
Abiola also stated that ethnic tensions had become high, leading to clamour for the disintegration of the country, but insisted that the disintegration of the country would not put an end to the issues.
“It is not what we should be talking about now. Disintegration is not a solution to the problems,” she stressed
Breakdown Of Youth Delegation
The Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Youth and Student Matters, Jude Imagwe, gave a breakdown of the youth representation and also said that 18 slots were not enough representations for the youths.
He explained that the modalities made it clear that the National Association of the Nigerian Students and the National Youth Council would send certain number of delegates to the conference.
“Under the National Association of the Nigerian Students, it is expected that six people would be selected from different zones. The six geo-political zones will be looked at and selection will be made from these zones.
“National Youth Council got 6 slots and the arrangement is that they should go to different zones and conduct an election of people that will come.
“All the nomination should be followed by the signatures of the persons that participated in the election and the video coverage of the election process,” Mr Imagwe said.
He further expressed the importance of having a quality representation at the conference.
“The youth organisation should ensure that people they will select will be people that will not go there to sleep. They should do their best to make sure that the coming generation will be proud of their contributions to the conference. It will amount to the highest level of embarrassment if they cannot make use of this slot,” he stressed.
Imagwe’s explanation did not go down well with Abiola, who questioned the criterion for deciding who an outstanding youth was.
Responding to the question, Imagwe noted that Abiola’s opinion does not represent the opinion of Nigerians.
“If you say that a fellow young person that is selected to represent you will not represent you well, it means we are having disagreement in what we belief in as young people. We should encourage the persons that will represent us,” Imagwe stated.
Lim condemned the allotment of six delegates to the student body, saying that the number was too much for the union, as it was a national student union that could select few people from the national level.
He insisted that a conference was not needed to give Nigerians good governance and called on Nigerian leaders to show sincerity and accountability, saying those were all Nigeria needs make things change.