International Youth Day for safe space

A cross section of Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria in a group photograph

Today, August 12, is International Youth Day.

It is a day set aside by the United Nations General Assembly to celebrate the existence and importance of young people in the society.

Our world is incomplete without the young people!

Today, we are celebrating some of the contributions made by young people towards the development of our society and the world at large.

IYD is a day to encourage the youths in their visions and aspirations.

We need to bring out the best in our young people. The theme of this year’s International Youth Day is “Safe Spaces for Youth.”

There is nothing more fulfilling and more liberating than space. Give the young people space and they will rule the world!

An Igbo adage says, “Before buying a mat, one needs to acquire land (or space) where the mat will be spread.”

This is true of every human being. We cannot exist without space.

We need space where we can sleep, play, spread our clothes after laundry, and park our cars after. We need space where we can store our belongings.

Farmers need space where they can plant their crops.

Above all, we need space where we can pray and exercise our freedom.

Before creating Man, God created a space for him.

The Garden of Eden is the safest space on earth. It is a space where man was allowed to exercise his freedom in order to bring out the best in him.

After creating the space, the Lord declares, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea…” (Genesis 1: 28).

If we want our young people to be fruitful, then we must create a safe space for them.

Our young people need safe space where they can acquire the best of education.

Unfortunately, most of our schools are no longer safe for young people.

Hundreds of young people are being kidnapped and taken into captivities within the school environment. This shows how unsafe our schools have become.

The young people need political space where they can exhibit their leadership skills.

This space must be safe, affordable and available.

Unfortunately, political space is not safe in a country like Nigeria, where politicians are using force and other security agencies to intimidate their fellow politicians.

Imagine a country where the DSS could lock up the National House of Assembly, the symbol of Democracy!

People are arrested, harassed and intimidated all because of political power.

A political space is not affordable in a country where people still play politics of money.

So many young talented leaders are discouraged each time they hear the amount they have to pay before acquiring an ordinary form from INEC.

People’s votes are literally bought with money.

By so doing, majority of young people are denied the political space to context for election.

That is why power keeps rotating among the few rich politicians. There is need for equal level space for all political aspirants.

Political space is not available in a place like Nigeria, where the elderly (old) ones are still occupying the space meant for young people. No one occupies an occupied space!

Our young people need space where they can exercise their freedom of expression without any constraint and intimidation.

They need to participate in decision-making. They need space where they can showcase their gifts and talents.

They need space where they can participate in sports and other leisure.

We have so many talented young players, but unfortunately, only a few are opportune to showcase their talents.

As we provide a safe space for our young people, I wish all our youths happy International Day of the youths.

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