On Thursday, no fewer than 200 youths across the country were trained and equipped with various skills by the Solomon and Mary Lar Foundation in Abuja.
The youths were trained in essential leadership skills, cyber security, web design, online marketing, the use of artificial intelligence, and entrepreneurship tips.
Speaking at the event, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Tajudeen Abbas, said that with a staggering youth population estimated to be over 134 million, Nigeria holds the third position globally in terms of having the most youthful population, surpassed only by India and China.
Mr Abbas, who was represented by Ado Doguwa, chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum Upstream, said that the demographic statistics present both an opportunity for development and a challenge.
According to him, a well-developed strategy will create avenues for economic empowerment and social cohesion.
He said neglecting the youths would lead to some other consequences for the nation.
“Therefore, it is imperative that we prioritise empowering our youths with essential skills in leadership, entrepreneurship, and technology, as these areas drive socio-economic progress, growth, development, and self-reliance and reduce the tendency for restiveness.
“The National Assembly has over the years recognised the need to ensure that young people are given the opportunity to develop their potential as leaders in society and has come up with legislation to empower them.
“That was why in 2018, we passed the “Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill,” which was signed into law by the last administration.
“This was made to remove the age barrier in some elective positions in government to pave the way for young people to vie for political offices.
“The Nigerian Startup Act, 2022, was part of the innovations in information technology to create jobs for young people in the area of technology,” he said.
The speaker said that the 10th House of Representatives had identified youth development as one of its key priorities.
According to him, the House is ready to support ICT and the digital economy through legislation that promotes digital innovation, data protection, and e-commerce.
He explained that it was to further strengthen the opportunities available to young people in a technology-driven and digital generation.
“The House also created committees on Young Parliamentarians, Youth Development, Women Affairs, and SDGs to continuously engage young people for leadership development through empowerment programmes.
“I am currently sponsoring a bill in this 10th House for an Act to establish the National Youths Welfare Scheme Fund to manage and coordinate youth welfare services in order to reduce challenges in governance and security in the country,” he said.
In her remarks, Prof. Mary Lar, co-founder of the foundation, said that the aim of the training was to give back to society, beginning with the youths.
Ms Lar said that the youths are future leaders and changemakers, adding that the hope of the country lies in the hands of the youths.
She said that the youths are expected to bring justice, unity, and tolerance to the land and provide employment and social amenities for the next generation.
“Youths, you have a big role to play because you have to shape yourself into a responsible and trustworthy person who has good morals and values.
“If this is not done, the nation will be affected, as the youth can never be underestimated in what they can give to the nation,” she said.
Ms Lar urged the youths not to be discouraged, as low morale would affect their mentality.
She also said youths should be groomed properly to attain their potential.