By Dr Abiodun Fatai Abatan
Let me start by congratulating our youth on this auspicious occasion of the 20th Annual Youth day celebration. I see my call as the Chairman of the Board of Ikorodu Division Youth Initiative (IDYI), to deliver this keynote address as a rare privilege and honour.
The theme of this year’s keynote “Engaging Ikorodu Division Youth for Community Impact” is timely considering the numerous overarching challenges the world is going through. From global instability to the economic recession, the world is currently overhanging in serious crisis across nations and international planes. Such predicament is further escalated by the resurgence of the unexpected coronavirus (COVID-19) which brought about a new world order defined by the way we live our life, conduct businesses and interact with others. In all of these, the youth are the endangered species, having been the victims of marginalization, exclusion and voicelessness in the period before COVID-19.
Given that the coping strategy to COVID-19 is as intense as the virulent nature of the virus itself, our youth must take the lead and the gauntlet to confront the virus across the local, national and international level in the realisation of this year’s United Nation international youth day theme “Engagement of Youth for Global Action”. Such responses mean that our youth in Ikorodu division must become an actor and recipient of the national and multilateral institutional processes, to ensure they are part of the solution to the problem they are facing, not merely a problem to be resolved by others. They should take collective action to address issues of public concern, engaging in activities that seek to impact the quality of the community and civil values for young people.
Our youth should be at the forefront of innovation and initiatives aimed at addressing collective problem dilemma and understand they need not be treated as a vulnerable sector, as such a perception negates their strength, creativity and contribution to the community. As forward-looking youth, you must be an agent of change, not an instrument of destruction. You must take ownership of our community through peer-to-peer youth inclusion and engagement across broad the spectrum of youth groups and young people’s association in Ikorodu division. I expect you to be engaging and impacting the community through political participation and mobilisation for politics, civic engagement, Youth platform to discuss issues of national and community importance, seminars and public workshop/lectures, youth Empowerment and Inclusion and peacebuilding and campaign against violence among others. The outcome of these programmes will no doubt make you relevant to your calling, but also an agent of national development. Please, organize and be united for communal actions, don’t agonize.
I am of the strong conviction that our cerebral and top-notch guest speaker will do justice to the theme, I, therefore, request us to be attentive, and enjoy the lecture.
Ibrahim Alani Onibudo is a proud indigene of Ikorodu currently living in Canada. He is an African Representative on an international committee for computer graphics and Interactive Techniques SIGGRAPH. He has presented 2 papers at SIGGRAPH conferences in Los Angeles, California, USA and Vancouver, Canada. He has been working remotely with different groups in Canada and the USA on computer graphics related programs such as multilingual podcasts and NoirMaker and some others.
Onibudo was training to become an Architect in Nigeria before he diverted into Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. This diversion set him onto a global stage on which he has been very active from year 2012 till today.
Since October 2017, Onibudo has been working with a Nigerian group studying the management and functioning of North American cities like Baltimore, Los Angeles, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver as case studies for the development of Nigerian cities like Lagos, Kano, and Port Harcourt. The group has been able to come up with different templates that may be adopted by decision makers and stakeholders in African cities.
While in Nigeria, Onibudo worked with various companies like FMA Architects, Resourcery PLC, Weco Systems, and DBC Architects between 2007 and 2015. He also did a lot of humanitarian works with various groups like Ikorodu Ambassadors, Positivemates, Ifemyow, and some others.
IDYI: Our topic for today says – Engaging Ikorodu Youths for Community Impact.
Before we go deeply into this topic, who are the youths? Or who can we consider as a youth?
Mr Ibrahim Onibudo: A very good question. For many years, there has been that general belief that the youth is a group of people between the ages of 18 and 40. But I’ve seen different age ranges by definition of the United Nations as 15-24. I want to believe that in Nigeria, it’s between ages 18 and 40.
IDYI: Presently, the world is experiencing A global pandemic. We have all had to put our lives on hold for weeks even tho we are gradually getting used to the new normal.
Now what do you consider as the role of youths at this time? Looking at the age bracket of 18-40.
Mr Ibrahim Onibudo: The global pandemic is a very sorry situation. Obviously Nigeria was not really prepared for it. Nigeria has not prepared for anything.
Nigeria has not prepared the youth for challenges they may face ahead in life. I’ve seen where countries have fully prepared their youth for such challenges and they need little or no supervision to survive on their own.
However, instead of pointing accusing fingers, the youth must take the bull by the horns. The youth will have to come up with plans to survive on their own. Such plans may include but not limited to:
1. Engaging in online studies. Most universities and colleges across the world have opened free online courses. Time spent in watching BB Nigeria could be used to earn an international certificate or Diploma.
2. Acquiring online skills. Many channels opened to learn skills like photography, web design etc. Shaw Academy is an example. The youth can join learn or improve on their skills.
3. Volunteering with NGOs in distributing relief materials.
IDYI: Nigeria has not prepared the youth for challenges they may face ahead in life.
In your own opinion, how do you think this can be achieved?
We have some key decision makers in the house and I think that aspect can be looked into.
Mr. Ibrahim Onibudo:
Education: Nigerian youth have been educating themselves without even waiting for govt interventions like bursary, scholarships, Kudos to the Nigerian youth for that.
Cultural Exchange Programs: The Nigerian youth needs to begin to learn how things are done elsewhere. A group of Nigerian youth can take a road trip to Ghana or Kenya or South Africa for weeks just to see how youths are doing things in those places.
Volunteer Works Home & Abroad: Most services cannot be paid for, But with volunteering a lot of works can be achieved in nation building.
Govt Needs to do so much more: Nigerian youth must move closer to people in govt for developmental engagements.
Youth are underutilized: The Nigerian youth must find platforms on which they can showcase their talents and even gather more experiences. The youth must ensure they utilise their skills to full capacity.
Qualities of a good youth:
1. Always ready to serve.
2. Be honest and must have integrity.
3. Have community development as his/her watchword.
4. Must be able to learn, unlearn, and relearn.
IDYI: Next question is going to be in two phase.
1. The topic says Engaging youths for global action, How can we meaningful engage the youths?
2. Now Localising this, how can we effectively engage the youths of Ikorodu?
Let’s put into consideration some factors peculiar to us(Ikorodu).
Mr. Ibrahim Onibudo: For global action, I’ll go back to some of the factors I stated earlier for reference.
1. Education. Ikorodu youth should gather and work on international scholarships, bursaries and educational exchange programs. Dr Abatan can definitely assist in this area. Why can’t we have 20 Ikorodu youth going to study in Canada every year? Fully sponsored. I see Indians and Chinese doing this every year.
2. Cultural exchange programs. LGs in Ikorodu Division should liaise with City councils in countries across the world. Foreigners can be brought to Ioorodu to lean our culture. Take them to Erin Ijomu, or bring them to watch Asa. Ikorodu youth can visit their countries too. That way the kinds of the youth can be well structured to actively play globally.
3. Tools like language is required to play on global stage. Nigeria is surrounded by francophone countries. Why can’t the youth be able to speak French for global opportunities?
4. Training programs. The youth must be engaged in rich and well detailed training programs in various skill sets.
IDYI: I stated that some factors are peculiar to us in Ikorodu. Such as, Cultism, internet fraud etc. some of our youths are not willing or ready to get involved in the above you have mentioned, how can we grow a genuine interest in them?
Mr. Ibrahim Onibudo: From what I stated in the last response, I believe the wayward youth would be attracted to:
1. Study abroad
2. Visit a foreign country in a cultural exchange program
3. Visit a training to be instructed by a foreign technician.
IDYI: How do we initiate unity among Ikorodu Division youths to develop our community?
Mr. Ibrahim Onibudo:
1. Continuous engagements and interactive sessions.
2. More religious and cultural programs for the youth
3. Full supports for the youth by govt and NGOs.
IDYI: What are the requirements in getting international scholarships?
Dr. Abiodun Fatai: If you have been following very well on social media, l have frequently dropped scholarship opportunities, but our youth dont take it serious. We need to explore educational opportunities, because that is where our intellectual and career development lies. There are many of them begging to be tapped, but no one is available. If you are interested let me know.
Mr. Ibrahim Onibudo: In Addition To Dr. Abiodun’s Contribution, We Must identify and classify the natural gifts and skills.
Then, we will be able to plan based on these set of skills.
It has to be a huge collaboration among the govt, NGOs, philanthropists, individuals and groups.
For those in music, we can have a musical talent hunt every year.
For those in printing or mechanics, we can create workshop for them to get trained or improve their current skills.
IDYI: If we want to fully engage our youths for Global Action, we obviously can’t leave our Governance.
No doubt, Youths are still being under-represented in Government, how do you think this can be fully optimised beyond the mantra of ‘Not too young to run’?
Mr. Ibrahim Onibudo: Most youth are discouraged to go into politics due to the current political structure. Party politics of nomination instead of voting by popularity. But then, there’s always a way.
The youth need to devise means of getting more participation in governance. The youth have to encourage themselves. Another clue is to start small and grow BIG in politics. I see youth that may be able to create more waves as a councilor contesting for much bigger positions.
To me, it’s not strategic. People would be more supportive to support you for a BIG Political seat if you’ve done so well in a lower capacity. But if you’re sure of yourself, go for the BIG positions.