Global Goals Week: Youth Shaping the World We Want

In commemoration of the fifth year of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a virtual hangout was organized to coincide with the Global Goals Week.

The aim of the virtual hangout stems from the need to evaluate how far the SDGs have been achieved over these years. Considering certain gaps that exist in between achieving these goals. The virtual hangout which was done on the 24th September 2020 by 11 am had to discuss these issues with notable stakeholders and make a concise recommendation on how youths can shape the world we want.

The hangout was moderated by Goodness Ogeyi Odey. Stakeholders who are part of the actions carried out in achieving the SDGs were present in the hangout. They include Odey Goodness, Coordinator, NG Youths SDGs Network, Cross River State Chapter; Damilare Oyedele, State Coordinator NG Youth SDGs Abuja; Hannah Bassey, Founder, NanaArts Initiatives and global shaper; Egbelo Edward, Senior Special Assistant on New Media, Cross River State and Moyosoluwa Oladayo, Global VFD Officers, VSO International.

The discussion began with Hannah Bassey as she explains that there have been many achievements and that people are beginning to speak up. She said, ‘Women also have become part of the policy-making body, WASH programme have been really improved, a lot of NGOs have sprung up and they try to pursue many goals, especially in Cross River State. Money-marriage which is an issue in the state have been seriously dealt with.’

Edward Egbelo responds that considering Goal 2 – zero poverty – such goals have shown that we have failed woefully. COVID-19 have exposed our shortcomings. He supports this by saying, ‘COVID-19 have shown Nigeria a failed nation. The nation is looking for who to blame and not seek solutions. There are many Nigerians living below $1 a day.’ He continues and points out that youth participation in government is a very big problem. ‘The challenge of Nigeria youths now is mentorship. One of Nigeria’s politician ha point as out as a major problem.’ He demonstrates how medical tourism is on the increase. Health issues are always taken outside the country. He said, ‘It shows the shortfalls of Nigeria’s health system. Even the people in the system does not believe in the system. This is a back-to-back procedure that we can work. There needs to be a change to all this.’

Moyosoluwa Oladayo contributed that she usually tell people that we may not be able to achieve all the goals and targets by 2030, but we will not be where we started.   She emphasized the need for Nigerian youth to be deliberate. The goal of young persons in Nigeria should be their development. ‘Nigerian youths should develop themselves so that they won’t be benched or turned to ushers.’ She concludes this by pointing out that Nigerian youths are dogged, hardworking and industrious.

In response to how youths could shape the world they want towards striving to achieve the SDGs, Hannah Bassey talks about youths being involved in decision-making. Moyosoluwa Oladayo talks about youths being agents of change in themselves. She advised that youths should partner and collaborate with themselves to achieve these goals. She said, ‘They should not get tired. Youths should be clear and definitive about the world we want. There should be unity. The goal should be unique and appreciated when it comes to pass.’ She concluded by adding that Nigerians youths should set goals and know what they want to achieve.

Edward Egbelo recommended that that the issue of education should be dealt with. He said that there is a direct link with illiteracy and poverty. According to him: ‘There is a need to help educate out-of-school persons.’ In another dimension, he also advised that youths have to prepare themselves for leadership positions; ‘Youths should have the capacity to dire. Dare to vie for an elected position. Appointed positions are limited and can be influenced by the decisions of the appointer. Youths should work towards the elective position. There are young persons across the globe which hold a different sensitive position.’ He confirms that Nigerian youths are gifted, but enough of the blame – It is time to stop creating blames.

A participant in the virtual hangout, Habila Muhammad Kudu made some contributions. He advised that young people have to be actively involved in policy-making and governance. According to him, ‘The government should make laws that ensure certain positions should be made for either a young person or women.’ He claims that placing such a law would improve youth participation. He added that faith-based organisations need to be empowered in their activities towards SDGs. SDGs should not work alone at the elite class but from the grassroots. In his words: ‘…that’s why the movement should start from youth circles, starting from personal developing, volunteerism, leadership positions etc. Young people should be encouraged to take leadership positions starting from the family.’ He continues by adding that confidence in youths is very important for youths who are from low roots and seem not to be supported. According to him, he claims that this is because it seems like the few youths taking positions are from the rich class. ‘Youths should be confident and not relent.’

In wrapping the sessions, Hannah Bassey adds that young people should learn to cooperate and work together. Advocacy should be a continuous move for youths to engage the right persons. When we are together, we are stronger. Edward Egbelo concludes by that platforms like NG Youths SDGs should be encouraged; platforms where youths come together to think about development, participation, activation of the SDGs. Youths have to re-strategize. According to him, the major problem we have in our country is the lack of plan and agenda in leadership. ‘Youths should focus on this and try to make out plans that are achievable.’

Goodness closes the session by agreeing on the wonderful contributions from the speakers and how she hopes they would be implemented. Participants were encouraged to work on these recommendations to meet up with the action plan.