By Frederick Peters, KADUNA.

The Northern Governors Forum has inaugurated a special youths and Civil Societies committee to address challenges and related issues in the aftermath of the recent #EndSARS protests in the country.

Recall at their previous meeting in Kaduna, the forum noted with dismay the protests,while commending the northern youths for not partaking in the protests,which according to them is subversive and aimed the government of the day.

According to the Northern governors this committee as constituted will sustain quality engagements with the youths as major stakeholders and nip in the bud the plethora of issues related to the youths in the region

During his inauguration speech at the event in Kaduna on Wednesday, the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Executive governor of Plateau, Rt.Hon.( Dr) Simon Bako Lalong,further said, the committee which is headed by New Emir of Zazzau,will also interface with the civil Societies organizations in the region among other things,saying

” We are gathered here for a very important assignment in the progress and development of the Northern Region and Nigeria as a whole as we inaugurate the Special Committee on Youths and Civil Societies under the Chairmanship of His Royal Highness the Emir of Zazzau Alhaji Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli.

” Let me first use this opportunity to once again congratulate His Royal Highness the Emir for a successful installation as the 19th Emir of the Zazzau Emirate. We wish you well and pray that God will give you the wisdom and courage to lead your people and
contribute to the growth and development of the Northern Region and the entire Nation.

” Your Excellencies, Royal Highnesses, Ladies and gentlemen, you will recall that
members of the Northern Governors Forum met here in Kaduna on 2nd November 2020 to engage with Chairmen of the Northern States Traditional Rulers Council led by His
Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto on recent developments in the country arising from the ENDSARS protests and subsequent fallouts.

” The meeting was attended by His Excellency, the Senate President, of the Federal Republic, the Honourable Deputy Speaker and other members of the National Assembly, Chief of Staff to the President, the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, the Minister of Information and Culture, the Inspector General of Police and other Principal Officers of the National Assembly.

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” After exhaustive deliberations the meeting resolved that there is the need for regular engagements with other critical stakeholders such as Religious Leaders, the Business Community, Youths Leaders, Members of the Civil Societies, Professional Groups among

” This led to the setting up of two major engagement committees one of which is the Committee on Engagement with Youths and Civil Societies that we are here to inaugurate. Again, I express our deep appreciation to His Royal Highness the Emir of Zazzau for accepting to Chair this Committee, just few weeks after his installation.

” You will agree with me that this Committee is very significant not only because of recent issues related to the ENDSARS protests and its subsequent hijack that led to looting, vandalisation and destruction of public and private properties, but because of strategic role that youths play in the socio-economic and political development of the nation.

He said ” We are well aware that youths form a bulk of the population of the region and the nation, and as such have a great role to play in the destiny of the country. Their voices must not only be heard, but their opinions and views should always be carried along in governance.

” Here in the Northern Region, the challenges facing the youths are enormous and very well known to us. These include unemployment, illiteracy, crime, drug abuse among others. As leaders, we must not only address these challenges, but also engage
the youths in a manner that they own the process to make any initiative successful and long lasting

According to him ” That is why the assignment of this committee is very crucial in our agenda of changing the fortunes of our youths from despondency to hope and from few
opportunities to vast windows for self-realization and wealth creation.

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” Our region is blessed with human and material resources particularly in agriculture which if properly harnessed, can turn around the unpleasant condition of our youths and enable them take the lead in the emancipation of the region. This is bearing in mind that sooner than later, they are going to be in the saddle of leadership.

” In creating that conducive environment for our youths to flourish, we must tackle the current challenges of insecurity in the region which are dominated by insurgency, kidnapping, banditry and other conflicts. We shall continue to work with the Federal
Government and security agencies to tackle crime and criminality.

” That is why we have supported a comprehensive reform of the policing architecture in the country, far beyond the scrapplng of SARS, to the implementation of Community
Policing and the proper funding and training of police personnel. Like I have explained severally, the Northern Governors Forum is not against the disbandment of SARS, as misconstrued in some quarters.

” We have rather cautioned against the blanket condemnation of the police that can erode the confidence and zeal of hardworking and honest ones to performing their duties of protecting lives and properties.

“This Committee is also saddled with the responsibility of creating a robust interface with members of the civil society within the region, in order to facilitate engagement and dialogue that will help advance solutions towards addressing the challenges of the region.

” We believe such engagement will enable us collate all shades of opinions and views that will strengthen governance, accountability as well as generate a proper feedback mechanism that will enhance development. The civil society will create the platform for both government and citizens to synergize and work together for the good of the

” At this juncture, I will like to use this opportunity to again clarify the
misrepresentations arising from the suggestion by Northern Governors Forum that the time has come for some mechanisms to be put in place to ensure that those who misuse the social media or put the lives of others in danger are held accountable.

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” Even though this has been taken out of context by many for reasons best known to them, the reality is that we are also confronted with the negative use of the social media for the transmission of fake news, hate speech and incitement. This was very evident even in these recent events innocent persons were maligned, falsely castigated and even put in danger or attacked.

” This again reminds us of the need to do something to ensure responsible use of the social media space for development and accountability. No one can suppress freedom of speech and expression in a democracy. At the same time, no one should also be allowed to suffer or be endangered through the abuse of such freedom by the irresponsible use of social media by others.

” For the avoidance of doubt, this position does not intend to gag, muzzle or suppress freedom of speech and expression of Nigerians. We are only advocating for responsibility and accountability as any of us can be victims of fake news, hate speech and incitement. Freedom of expression as we all know does not equal irresponsibility.

” The terms of Reference of this panel are:
i. To work out various ways of engaging the Youths in the North at different levels.

ii. Prioritize different programmes for Youth Development in the North.

iii. Identify and develop different platforms for Youth inclusion in the governance architecture in Nigeria and the North in particular.

iv. Any other recommendations deemed relevant by the committee.

“The committee has 8 weeks within which to complete its assignment and submit its report. Membership of the Committee is composed as enumerated.

“While congratulating members for your appointment to serve our region and the nation, I challenge you to be thorough, diligent and committed to this task.

” On this note, it is my honour and privilege to inaugurate the Special Committee on Youths and Civil Societies. I wish you success in your assignment.”he added



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