Nigerians in London gathered at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster on the 24th of June for the inauguration of the Nigerian Youth Congress.
The congress is a platform created by Nigerian youths living in the UK with the aim of serving as a voice for the millions of Nigerian youths in the diaspora to proffer solutions in tackling the challenges facing Nigeria.
The chairman of the organisation, Gbolahan Macjob, founder of the charity Afristars Foundation- a charity for Africans with learning disability, highlighted the current problems facing Nigeria in terms of governance, development and corruption and urged all youths present in the gathering to stand up and take action against bad governance.
He told the gathering that it was time to put aside cultural and religious differences and for Nigerian youths to start working together to challenge the current political class to create wealth and basic infrastructure for the development of the country.
“Nigeria has been described as one of the most corrupt countries in the world,” he said.
“Whether we agree with that or not, is a different matter, but if you look around you, the sheer impunity and lack of accountability that exists in the system in Nigeria,you’ll find that the current labels are not that far-fetched.”
He decried the current state of insecurity in the country and the poor treatment of youths citing the recent tragic deaths of job seekers at a job screening exercise across the country.
On the missing Chibok girls, Gbolahan accused the media and international celebrities of jumping on the hashtag revolution at the height of the #Bringbackourgirls campaign. He said like everything else in the country, the plight of the missing girls have been forgotten as everyone returns to their daily lives even as the teenagers suffer at the hands of militant group Boko Haram.
He told the gathering that Nigerians are now approaching her majesty’s service, one more time not to request for independence but to request assistance in implementing “our plan of action in rescuing Nigeria.”
Gbolahan said that one of the main problems stifling progress in the country was the prevalence of cultural, ethnic and religious sentiments. “What we hope to accomplish with this platform is to put our ethnic, religious and cultural differences aside and unite under the umbrella of the NYC. Enough of asking, we want to make a change.”
In conclusion, he told the gathering which included Ben TV boss Alistair Soyode and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Nigeria MP Chi Onwurah, that the “NYC would like to be recognised as the voice of the youth of Nigeria and to be carried along when important decisions are being made.”
Ben TV boss Alistair Soyode, a firm supporter of youth development in Nigeria and the diaspora during his speech, addressed what he called the obedience to the ‘law of the land.’
“In the Nigerian political scene, there are two things that count, money and numbers. You have to have either one or both.Without these two, you can’t make much difference on ground,” he told the gathering.
He commented on the Ekiti elections saying that “the man who won, did so, because he knew what the people wanted and made sure he did it. The law of the land and numbers really matter.”
He also hailed the election as ushering in a new era in the Nigeria political scene, referring to the peaceful handover of power between the former governor and the new governor-elect, Ayo Fayose of the PDP.
“Fayemi accepted defeat and has agreed to meet with the new Governor, opening a new dimension in Nigerian politics. It means that someone can be defeated and say to his opponent- you’re welcome. It’s not a do or die affair,” he said.
He urged the members of the Nigerian youth congress to ensure that they don’t only rely on social media as he said it does not change anything on ground in Nigeria, but rather for the NYC to focus on engaging youths locally in Nigeria and educate them on the type of change we want.
Professor Segun Johnson, a political analyst based in London said the inauguration “gladdened his heart” and showed that Nigeria as a country can still be “saved from self-destruction.”
“I have looked forward to this day when Nigerian youths will take the initiative and rescue our motherland and restore it to glory,” said Johnson.
“As a secondary student in the 60’s, I saw a promising Nigeria emerging from colonialism, unfortunately, due to the military intervention over the years, there has been a whittling down of law and order and corruption.”
Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah, joined in praising the formation of the NYC and encouraged other Nigerians to get involved in defining the country’s future.
“I don’t think there could be a better time for the creation of the Nigerian Youth Congress as it is the 100th year celebration of the creation of Nigeria by Lord Luggard.”
“It is well time for Nigeria to step out from the shadows of the legacy of colonialism and stand on its own two feet as a country on the global stage as it can, must and should do- if it had the good fortune to match its reach and this is where I see the NYC coming in.”
Onwurah remarked that “Nigeria is very hot in terms of investment”, whilst Europe is still trying to emerge from recession,.
“This is the time for Nigeria to set out its own vision for its future, in its own terms and not allow itself to be taken advantage of.”
The Newcastle central MP reiterated the role of the all party parliamentary committee on Nigeria in supporting the growth and the image of Nigeria.
She drew on a quote from a report by the committee on its last visit to Nigeria in 2012 which highlighted the challenges facing the country.
“For its potential to be tapped, Nigeria’s population needs to be more than just an impressive statistic, young people need genuine education and skills training and ambition to match with opportunity.”
She also stated the committee’s commitment to developing institutions that can develop Nigeria’s potential.
To find out more about the Nigerian Youth Congress please visit the official website or follow the organisation on Twitter and Facebook.