Education as a Vaccine participated in a National Multi-Stakeholders’ Summit on Investing in Youth to Harness Demographic Dividend in Nigeria and the launch of Nigeria’s Roadmap on Demographic Dividend on 6th July, 2017.
Demographic Dividend is the economic growth that may result from changes to a country’s age structure. As a country with large population of young people, Investments in youth to reaching demographic dividend are attainable when youth are actively involved in the implementation processes with sustained and inclusive investments in their education (technical inclusive), health, employment and empowerment.
EVA being an organization that envisions a Nigeria where young people reach their full potentials and works to build and implement innovative and sustainable mechanism for improved quality of life for them was the only youth led organization given the platform to speak on behalf of Nigerian youth.
In her goodwill message, EVA’s Youth Advocate, Olamide Folayan challenged Nigerian leaders and other stakeholders to step up to action by ensuring committed investments in youth where they are able to reach their full potential, thus, the demographic dividend.
“We believe that this roadmap will serve as a great impetus for greater impact in addressing the concerns of young people in Nigeria as it affects us and we challenge Government at all levels and critical stakeholders to ensure that the rights of youths are guaranteed”. Olamide said.
While canvassing for the need to bridge the gap in meeting contraception need, she expressed optimism that the road map will “provide a clear path to deliver on qualitative and functional education up to the tertiary level with special attention to the girl child, youth economic empowerment, increased youth participation in political processes and a more inclusive implementation of the National Health Act”.
Olamide also made an important point that “guaranteeing the rights of young people especially vulnerable and marginalized young people make sustainable development and harnessing the power of youth for demographic dividend possible”
The overall goal of the roadmap is to guide and facilitate the implementation of the African Union theme for the year 2017 to put Nigeria on the path to reaping demographic dividend within the shortest possible time through economic development, healthy population, good governance, improved education, job creation and accountability.
Represented by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, the Acting President, Yemi Osibanjo revealed that in order to track the achievements of the Demographic Dividend, an Observatory for keys indicators will be domiciled in his office, while promising that government will take deliberate steps to concentrate on development indicators- economic, health, education, youth and population structure.
He admitted that the large population of young people in the country availed the country a window of opportunity for increased economic growth. “Youths are the most valuable resources in Nigeria, it is not oil, and we can only harness these resources through investments in them, otherwise, it becomes a liability”, he added.
On his own part, UNFPA Deputy Representative in Nigeria, Eugene Kongnyuy reiterated the commitment of the organization to ensuring a new dawn of development, “United Nations systems in Nigeria through its partnership with Federal and State Governments will continue to strengthen national and sub-national capacity to achieve Demographic Dividend”.
Going further, “It is important that we have a platform that recognizes the energy, intelligence and the vibrancy of young people and what they bring to the table. I hope that in harnessing demographic dividend, we don’t just see young people as a means to an end in economic development, but see them as partners at building a more equitable society” – Olabukunola Williams, Executive Director, Education as a Vaccine.