A cross section of young Nigerian men and women have demanded government policies that are relevant to their livelihoods, focus on their life aspirations, and protect them from perennial unemployment. The youth, drawn from civic societies, non-governmental organisations, academia and youth advocacy groups, made these demands at an inception workshop recently organised by PASGR, Mastercard and a team of researchers from University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
In one of their discussions, Dr Kemi Obayelu and Mrs Toyin Adeyemi-Okediran emphasised that the level of resilience youth showed during Covid-19 pandemic is an indication that with intellectual inclusiveness and available human capital, Nigerian young men and women can achieve their aspirations and legitimate livelihoods.
In addition, a youth advocate, Prince Adekunle Adetayo, argued that despite the challenges such as double taxation, unfavourable government policies, cultural and religious obstacles, curriculum deficit as well as dearth of mentorship confronting young people both in businesses and schools, their aspirations to always survive, cope and thrive were described as driving forces of strength no government or nation should downplay.
Another stakeholder and Director of Women in Unpaid and Informal Employment in Nigeria (WIIEN), Mrs Alaba-Ehindero, submitted that Covid-19 changed the definition of what employment meant and means to many young Nigerians, as they relied and still rely on technology and innovative ideas to solve their challenges of idleness during the pandemic and after it. Thus, to make government policies work in Nigeria, the young stakeholders recommended meritocracy instead of mediocrity as a criterion for whoever holds government offices.
Specifically, Comrade Salako Azeez added that competence and capacity are vital elements that fast-track attainment of youth’s dreams and better livelihoods, while Mr Gbenga Ademujimi, a youth employment coach, advocated emotional resilience and social platforms for youth, and every individual should view themselves as the inspiration to youth aspirations. Leadership accountability, mindset change of government workers on financial gratifications and readiness of political leaders to work for the masses were therefore stressed by Mr Oyeboade Oluwaseun of Mental Health Hub.
In few days, the research team is expected to be on the field for data collection on the final project titled “Young Women and Men’s Aspirations and Resilience: Livelihoods, Employment and Accountability before, during and beyond Covid-19.”