The youth said they are being marginalised at the conference.
The 18 delegates representing various youth organisations at the on-going National Conference have threatened to disassociate themselves from the outcome of any committee report they feel do not do justice to young persons in the country.
The youth delegates based their protest on the grounds that they were excluded from some key committees whose decisions may likely affect the youth.
Addressing journalists at NICON Luxury Hotel, Tuesday, the leader of the youth delegation, Ben Duntoye, said all their protest to the secretariat of the conference, over their exclusion from key committees, failed to elicit any positive response.
Mr. Duntoye noted the disparity in the youth representation at the conference compared to its population in Nigeria.
There are currently 18 delegates representing the youth at the conference. Six represent the National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN; six represent the National Association of Nigerian Students, while the remaining six were picked by the federal government, one from each geo-political zone.
“It is interesting to note that of the 493 delegates the youth have only 18 representatives which is a marginalisation of the majority by the minority, considering the youth population,” he said.
He said most attempts at the youth expressing themselves at the conference where often denounced as disrespect to the elders.
“We started the conference with a subtle blackmail that we should respect our parents at the conference once it is noticed that our opinion varies with the status quo. As young Nigerians, well-brought up with our various rich cultural values for respect, we have immense respect for our elders at the conference. But we also understand that we can respectfully disagree and insist on our position except a superior position emerges. It must be understood that we are here in our official capacities to represent the youth and not to massage the egos of some people,” he said.
Mr. Duntoye said the youth delegation noticed the determination to sideline them by the confab secretariat when a committee of 50 “wise men” was selected to find a way out of the intractable issue of voting pattern, without a single young person considered.
“When the 50 wise men were convened, a serious omission was made by not having any youth representation. Is the leadership saying that we have no youth who can represent the interest of the youth on the key issues that was discussed and agreed upon? Again, 20 committees where constituted and the principal officers refused to see the wisdom in young delegates being represented in each committees despite that we raised objection at the plenary. We appreciate that one of us emerged a deputy chairman of a committee,” he said. “While we appreciate the importance of the economy, environment, energy, labour, transport, civil societies and sport in our nation’s development; how come we were omitted from equal critical issues like devolution of power, restructuring of government, public services and political parties? Was this a deliberate attempt to silence our view on political issues or another omission?”
He threatened that if the various acts of marginalisation were not addressed, the youth may dissociate itself from the outcome of decisions taken at the conference.