The UK Government through its Department for International Development (DFID) has called for initiatives that amplify the voices of Nigerian youth in the fight against corruption.
The Head, UK DFID-Nigeria, Debbie Palmer, conveyed this message at the grand finale of the Expression Undergraduate Debate 2017 in Abuja on Saturday.
The debate was organised by the Youngstars Development Initiative (YDI), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), with support from DFID, to mark the 2017 International Anti-Corruption Day.
Addressing participants at the event, Palmer noted that the youth had a critical role to play in Nigeria’s for sustainable development.
“Youth matter to us because we know that there are 1.8 billion young people in the world and nine out of 10 of those in developing countries like Nigeria.
“A recent Corruption Perception Survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics stated that youth was the group most affected by corruption in Nigeria.
“We were keen to fund this debate because voices of the victims, with real life stories of corruption, is one of the best ways of bringing these issues to light,” she said.
Debbie said the DFID, through its anti-corruption programme, would continue to strengthen the demands of young people for societal change, and also assist government to respond through stronger systems and sanctions.
Chairman of the occasion, Mr Bulus Dabit, said the Nigerian system had continued to resist the demand for space for the youth to actively participate in national discourse and development.
“It is clear from the perspectives of our youth that public policies in Africa merely serve the interest of those who formulate and implement them.
“Since African youth are generally excluded from public discourse, it means that they generally have no stake it it.
“Perhaps this is part of the reason why they are hardly consulted on budgets and relevant policies that affect them,” he noted.
Dabit, who is the Chairman, Board of Trustees of Youngstars Development Initiative, said the debate was therefore organised to provide a platform for young people to create their own future.
According to him, the contest is not about winning or losing, but about raising capacity of youth to participate in public policy formulation and implementation.
The Executive Director of YDI, Mr Kingsley Bangwell, said Expression Undergraduate Debate was an annual platform aimed at stimulating and amplifying the voices of young people in contemporary national issues.
Bangwell explained that 32 undergraduate teams drawn from 20 higher institutions nationwide participated in the debate which began on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said the winner would take home a cash prize of N500,000, while the first and second runners-up would get N300,000 and N200,000, respectively.
“As part of post-debate activities, the winners shall also conduct step-down debates in secondary schools in their communities as well as promote the ‘I Choose Integrity’ campaign that we are launching after now,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the debate was witnessed by secondary school students from different parts of the Federal Capital Territory.
Renowned political economist and professor at the Lagos Business School, Pat Utomi, was the Chief Judge of the debate.(NAN)