The National Orientation Agency has urged Nigerian youths to imbibe values of peaceful existence, quality character and take interest in governance by participating actively in politics.
Ngozi Ekeoba, Director of NOA in Imo, said this at a one-day youth summit with the theme: “Youth Participation in National Development”, held in Owerri on Thursday.
Ekeoba said the summit was to dialogue with the youth to make them understand their roles in national development.
She said the agency had been engaging Nigerian youths in tertiary institutions across the country through an all encompassing value re-orientation programme tagged “Campus Focus”.
Ekeoba said it was designed to address vices such as thuggery, cybercrime, cultism, drug abuse, armed robbery and gender-based violence and other criminalities existing in the institutions.
“The summit is a continuation of our engagements with Imo youths and a way of engaging them that may have been left out in the campus focus programmes, for them to take their rightful place in the polity and contribute their quota to national development,” she said.
Ekeoba described the youth as an indispensable critical mass and the most energetic, resourceful and productive segment of the nation’s population and key to national development.
“Nigeria today is faced with various insecurity challenges that is mitigating against our national development; these challenges we must understand are championed by the youth of the country.
“It is, therefore, imperative that our youths are constantly engaged to understand their plights and ensure they understand and actively participate in government programmes and policies as every Nigerian has a role to play in national development,” she said.
Ekeoba called on Imo youths to channel their knowledge, energies, resourcefulness and creativity toward making the state great as the “Eastern Heartland ” and Nigeria as “the Giant of Africa”.
She urged the youth to speak out as well as embrace peace and dialogue to resolve whatever grievances they might have at any time and participate in electoral processes.
According to her, the youth do not have any moral justification to complain about their elected officers if they do not participate in elections.
Ekeoba, therefore, urged them to seize the opportunity of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise and register as well as come up with suggestions and constructive criticisms on nation building that would be forwarded to the government.
Iya Ikongbe, a senior staff with the Central Bank of Nigeria who spoke on “Youth Loan Empowerment and How to Access the Loan”, said the CBN had a programme known as Agricbusiness, Small, Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (ABSMEIS) through which loans were given to people.
Ikongbe said other loan programmes included the Creative Industry Financing Initiative, for musicians; ICT; movie makers and the student software development as well as the Health Sector Grant, adding that their interest rates were minimal.
He identified the eligible enterprise for the ABSMEIS loans to include all agricultural value chain, manufacturers of paints and drugs, fashion and design and the creative industry.
Dr Jude Ohanele, Founder Development Dynamics, a non-governmental organisation, said the problem of the country was human related and called on youths to do away with violence and embrace hardwork, discipline, and integrity.
“There is a need to change the narrative. The country needs people with servant-leadership mentality which demands you get core values of vision, focus, humility, integrity and sincerity and improvement on the nutritional value of children for mental development.
“The youth should be part of solutions to Nigerian’s problem and relevant in contributing to national development as well as being critical thinkers,” he said.
The participants commended the NOA for the programme and called on it to strengthen its offices at the local government areas for efficiency.
On the CBN loan, they said they had done the necessary protocol for the loan to be disbursed, but all to no avail and called on the apex bank to ensure speedy disbursement of the loans.
Chukwuemeka Isidore, former President National Youth Council of Nigeria, described the programme as a welcome development that should be sustained.
Isidore urged the NOA to scale up its activities in the communities and go back to the drawing board by reviving its culture of orientation across board for a proper feedback.
Isidore also called on the CBN to streamline business loans reimbursement methods to get the needed impact.