By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
Abuja-As the fight against corruption intensifies, the Nigerian youth have been called upon to use their power, force and technology to create awareness about key social issues to bring about transformative change in Nigeria.
Speaking on Wednesday at the Media Roundtable on Increasing Youth Participation in the Fight Against Corruption and the Role of the Media, the Executive Director, Youth Alive Foundation (YAF), Dr. Uduak Okon stated that the fight against corruption cannot be won without youth involvement.
Dr. Okon noted with dismay that a key demographic which are the youth population have been left out of the discuss of anti corruption, adding that with a population of almost 60 per cent of Nigerians being youth, combined with enforcement, corruption will be greatly reduced.
According to her; “There are many ways we are fighting corruption, I think the government is doing what they can do and civil societies are also trying but I think the Youth are being left out, that demography should be engaged to greatly reduce corruption. I believe that the strategy is going to work. The youth can use technology to raise awareness about key social issues that affects the country”.
Fielding questions from participants on the efforts of the government so far in the fight, she noted that, “the government is not doing enough, they could do more, there is a lot of development aid going to the government. The citizens have to ask the government to do their part by holding them accountable through their voice. The citizen should demand accountability and transparency”.
Speaking on the idea of Youth Participation Against Corruption (YPAC), she noted that it aim is to mobilize and work with youth organizations to take an active part in the fight against corruption by creating platforms for youth to engage through capacity building, creative avenues and lots of activities for the youth.
She further noted that the Media is a critical stakeholder and YAF is Working with the Media to be an influencer in public discuss around anti-corruption, adding that they are looking forward to partnering with the Media over the next few years to ensure that the YPAC project achieves its aim.
Also speaking, the National Speaker, National Youth Assembly of Nigeria, Amb. Akhigbe Olumhense emphasized the need to see corruption as a reason for all the problems in the country and called on Nigerians to rise above fear to take the anti corruption message to the right corners.
“No amount of pressure should make one become corrupt, the fight against corruption is the duty of all Nigerians. Let us continue the campaign and take it out to Nigerians to know that anti corruption is a big deal. We are not afraid of anything, we will face corruption at any level as it is key to developing this country going forward” he said.
He further called on the Media to do a lot to bring corruption to a minimal,adding that the roundtable would help build the synergy that corruption is not something to be played with but can be dealt with if the young people wake up.
Furthermore, the National Coordinator, Safe and Sound, Chris Ugwuara noted with dismay that Nigeria is still practicing the traditional law enforcement which has not helped the anti corruption fight, adding that preventing the crime before they happen should take priority.
He said, “Safe and Sound is running a programme called Operation Reach All Schools(ORAS), we are working with youth in schools on how to prevent crimes in Nigeria in areas as anti corruption, drug prevention, human trafficking and the likes. We are also working to ensure that the students are well equipped with the necessary skills that can help them to be on their own even after secondary or vocational education. We also engage professionals and take them to schools to educate the students on how to be independent”.
In the same vein, the Senior Programmes Officer of the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement(YIAGA), Ibrahim Farouk stated that the anti corruption efforts many times seems to be led solely by the government, noting that if the young people are not involved in the fight against corruption then the fight will definitely fail.
In his remark, the YALI Network Cordinator, Ovo Otarigho said the Network encourage young people to go into entrepreneurship, public management and pay more attention to self development, adding that all the plans cannot be achieved if the country remains in corruption.
Otarigho while noting that corruption thrives when people are in lack, urged the Media to collaborate more with the CSOs through investigative Journalism and to intensify the talk about corruption to deter others from participating in the act.
The Roundtable was held ahead of the International Anti-corruption day slated for Saturday where there will be an official public launch of the YPAC project and the Make A Difference Against Corruption Today (MADACT) movement which is aimed to change the conversation and introduce a counter culture for young people to make a difference in Nigeria.