Tajudeen Akanji, a Professor of Peace Studies, University of Ibadan,Nigeria, has said that Nigeria cannot achieve sustainable development if its government does not tackle the high rate of poverty in the country,
Prof. Akanji made this assertion on Wednesday the 21st of September 2016 while delivering a lecture titled: “Youth, Peace and Security” to mark the International Day of Peace, held at the University of Ibadan. The theme of this year’s International Day of Peace is “Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace.”
The event was organized by the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies Students Association (IPSSSA), University of Ibadan chapter, in conjunction with the All Nigeria United Nations Students and Youth Association (ANUSA).
Akanji stated that the world today is faced with several challenges of poverty, hunger, diminishing natural resources, water scarcity, social inequality, among others, and that all these would impede the attainment of sustainable development goals by any nation.
He stressed that development goals have been identified as the possible solution to the scourge of insecurity in the world and particularly would provide the foundation for a lasting peace, adding that the Nigeria’s Federal Government must develop pragmatic solutions to tackle the high rate of poverty in the country if the country wants to witness any form of sustainable development.
Akanji lamented that between 2004 and 2011, the percentage of Nigerians living below the poverty line increased from 54 percent to 69.7 percent, pointing out that in the North West and North East, the poverty rates were highest with 77 percent and 76 percent respectively in 2011.
He also cited the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who recently said that over 100 million Nigerians live below the poverty line, lamenting that these damning ratios highlight the need for urgent socio-economic re-engineering that would entail employment generation, containment of public corruption and increased accountability.
The university don, however, said there was no doubt that in line with the global call for greater youth involvement in peacebuilding for development, there was a greater need for the young people to engage in activities that could promote a culture of peace and a conflict-free environment.
“There is no better time than now, for proper and greater youth engagement. The younger ones need to be given more space by the older generations. However, this goes with a lot of responsibilities on the part of the young people. Rather than referring to them as the leaders of tomorrow, they should actually be the drivers of today. One important role which the youth can play in peace and conflict resolution is for them to ‘be the change,” he said.
Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration, University of Ibadan, Prof. Ayelari Emilolorun challenged youths in the Niger Delta to hold their leaders accountable as they normally collect huge allocation from the Federal Government to develop the area, without spending the money for what it was meant for.
The president of IPSSSA, Lawal Olayiwola, said the nation has, before now, failed to engage the youths in the process of peace making, saying that it is time the adult leadership surrendered the mantle of leadership to the young generation, adding that: “We need to challenge the leaders we have today in order to partake in the process of peacemaking.”