Mr. Udeme Ufot, Chairman, Policy Innovation Centre (PIC) of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) has said that the size and youthfulness of the Nigerian population offers great potential for innovation, technological advancement and economic development of the country.
Ufot stated this recently in Abuja at the Gender and Inclusion Summit 2023 convened by the Policy Innovation Centre of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.
He noted that for this potential to be harnessed there was a need for strategic investment in health, education, infrastructural development and job creation while leveraging technology to deliver sustainable development at scale.
Commenting on the essence of the Summit, Ufot said it was “conceptualised as a platform for dialogue where critical stakeholders from diverse sectors will reflect on new evidence and contextually relevant solutions to disparities in inclusivity in Nigeria.”
“The Gender and Inclusion Summit has a truly inclusive scope encompassing women, men, children, youth, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable population. This year, we are dedicating considerable time to discuss issues relating to Nigerian youth for many reasons. Nigeria has one of the largest population of youth in the world, about seventy percent of the population is under 35 years old. The median age of youth in Nigeria is 18.1 years and 42% are under the age of 15.”
He commended the efforts of the current government in providing platforms for youth such as the recently launched initiative to train three million tech talents by the Ministry of Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy.
He further underscored the need for “a collective responsibility to develop inclusive approaches to address barriers to quality education, job and internship opportunities and access to health services for Nigeria’s burgeoning youth population.”
Ufot warned that Nigeria cannot afford to have “a large population of poorly educated, poorly skilled, economically unproductive and unhealthy young people.”
He therefore, tasked participants to deliberate on how to lead Nigeria to “a more inclusive nation, where all citizens have equitable access to opportunities and are positioned to realise their God-given potentials in a Nigerian economy that is modern and open, private sector-led, and globally competitive.”
In his remarks, former Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, said that following his passion for women’s development, he had signed a law making it possible for women to inherit their fathers’ property and own community land. The law, he explained, allows them to be allocated land as against the customs and tradition which made it difficult for them to own land in their communities.
“Today in Abia State, female children can now inherit their fathers’ property. Now it’s an offence for female children not to be allocated land. The female children can now inherit their fathers’ property.”
Ikpeazu also recalled that he had signed a law against the discrimination of disabled persons, which made it compulsory for all houses in Abia State to be designed with ramps to enable the disabled easy access.
The theme for the 2023 summit was “Building Bridges: Advancing Gender & Inclusion Through the Intersection of Trade & Health.”