By Maureen Okon
The European Union (EU) on Monday lunched its ‘Youth Sounding Board’ (YSB) in Nigeria with 25 youth drawn from the six geo-political zones in the country as board members.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja reports that, the EU-YSB, is a space created for young people to influence the EU’s development cooperation in Nigeria.
Also, the EU believes that young Nigerians must be involved in shaping and implementing its development cooperation decision making for more inclusiveness.
The inauguration was, therefore, part of the EU’s commitment to incorporate young Nigerians in its decision making process.
Speaking on the occasion, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, lauded the EU’s cooperation in youth development in Nigeria, observing that youth development could only be done by government in collaboration with partners, such as the EU.
“This is why the concept of having strategic implementation partners has become the rubric of our engagement and the EU seats in this vital role.
“The EU-YSB is a welcome idea and the continued engagement of our youth is the only way we can meet them at the point of their needs.
”Also, we can deal with the burning issues of inclusiveness, either in governance, development or even in the careers they want to choose.
“The 25 youth chosen, I am sure would be worthy Ambassadors, and they will go beyond what they will learn to ensure that other youth in their communities, work places and societies also benefit from this process.
“The EU-YSB is another opportunity which, even the ministry wishes to embrace, and also welcome because it has open a window of opportunity for our youth”, he said.
The minister added that there was need for a global action plan for the youth, which can be used to design national policies and initiatives at the Federal Government level for the programmes to be mutually reinforcing.
Cécile Tassin-Pelzer, the EU’s Head of cooperation, also speaking at the event, said the EU-YSB aimed at creating a space for meaningful engagement in the EU’s cooperation policy.
According to her, the EU was also aligning with Nigeria’s national goals in three key areas: Green and Digital Economy, Governance, Peace, Migration and Human Development, in which young people were at the core.
Tassin-Pelzer said cooperation between EU and Nigeria started in 1976, and in 2009 they joined to proffer the way forward in strengthening their cooperation in key common issues that included; peace and security, economic development, social development, human rights and equality.
According to Tassin-Pelzer, the reaffirmation to strengthen our cooperation was done in 2020 at a high level meeting, by which we, at the EU, are starting a new programme of engagement for a seven-year financial cycle.
“The last 12 months, we have not only consulted with civil society, but the private sector and representatives of government.
“Our cooperation is based on Nigeria’s agenda because the EU does not come to a country with its own agenda.
”We are here to align with the national agenda on policies and to discuss on how the EU can assist the government and the country to reach their goals.
“So, for the seven years we have agreed to focus on key priority areas; Green and Digital Economy, Governance, Peace, Migration and Human Development.
“They are interconnected and the common focus of the three priorities are the youths, and in any of our engagement we focus on creating opportunities for jobs and in governance for the youth voices to be heard”, Tassin-Pelzer said.
She added that in the coming months and years the EU sees it as a privilege to have the 25 Youth Sounding Board to help in consulting and shaping youth involvement in decision making.
The EU-YSB was unveiled by the Minster and the EU’s Head of Cooperation, with the minister thanking the EU for being worthy partners in youth development, NAN reports. (NAN)