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“Leading sustainability from within society”
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“Leading sustainability from within society”

Timi OlajunguNigeria has a tremendous number of youth, and as Timi Olagunju, 30, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Lagos in Nigeria writes, on International Youth Day they were challenged to take the lead in driving the country’s efforts on Sustainable Development Goals.

Youth Factor, a nonprofit dedicated to articulating the youth agenda in Nigeria, partnered with Space FM, the first ‘multilingual’ radio station in Nigeria, to mark International Youth Day by discussing the day’s selected theme, “Youth Leading Sustainability”.

The summit was opened with the convener and founder of ‘Youth Factor’, Gbenga Omisore, introducing  Kole Ojo, a practicing lawyer and legal journalist from the United Kingdom, who cited the fact that Nigerian youths ages ‘0 to 29’ years constitute over 109 million of the Nigerian population. That figure equals the total population of Ghana, South Africa, and Kenya combined.

He further called for a ‘revolution of the mind and speech’, the kind of revolution that the Nigerian founding fathers such as Herbert Macualay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa, and Obafemi Awolowo, employed in the 1950s and the 1960s. This position was accentuated  by the day’s panelists, including Mojisola Ojebode, Dr. Tunde Oseni, Oloruntoba Yusuf, and  Olaitan Ajani.

The panelists further stretched the theme by emphasising that sustainability starts from within, as no one can give what they do not have. They also discussed the need for young Nigerians to assume strong and active positions in the achievement of these goals by learning, unlearning, and relearning.

The participants discussed the connection between problems, value, solution, and wealth. According to the discussion, poor countries can be defined as those which either fail to see solutions in problems, or fail to develop a critical mass of skills that can add sufficient value to solve problems and create wealth.

The participants were challenged to collaborate and do, rather than complain; to embrace a paradigm of “what can I do for myself, my community, and my nation?”, rather than “what can the government do for me?”.

In addition, one of the special guests at the Conference, Hon. Wale Afolabi, echoed the panelists’ points that indeed young Nigerians have a vital role to play in leading sustainability in Nigeria, in Africa and in the world as a whole, by starting with leading ‘self’. According to him, if we start from within, then young Nigerians can be properly positioned to drive the 17 Sustainable Development Goals namely; no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry innovation and infrastructure, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life below water, life on land, peace, justice and strong institutions, and partnerships for the goal.

The participants, panelists, and speakers agreed that though there is gradual progress in championing the 17 SDGs in Nigeria, there is still a long way to go in achieving the set goals.

The vote of thanks was offered by Christopher Ogundipe, who also encouraged the youth to work towards sustainable innovations. He called on youths to be ‘points of light’ in promoting the sustainable development goals, because the journey of a thousand miles begins with a ‘decision’ and a ‘step’.

Reach me on Twitter @timithelaw

Photo credit: IITA Image Library Nigeria Zero Hunger Stategic Review Inaugural Meeting via photopin (license)
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About me: I am a Development Practitioner and a Cyberspace Lawyer. I run SME GrowthHub, providing legal and business support to Individuals, Startups, and Innovators in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. I am co-Founder of Nigerian Youths in Motion (NYM) and Groundswell (www.groundswell-edtech.com), the first financial educational technology company in the West, East, and North African Sub-region. I am a recipient of the President Obama Award for young African leaders.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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