A recurring theme at the 2020 International Youth Day (2020 IYD) celebration, organized by Covenant University’s Community Development Impact Initiative Committee (CU-CDIIC), was the call on youths to engage in introspection and be involved in charting a new course for a better world.

The Lead Speaker and Resident Pastor, Winners Chapel International, Faith Tabernacle, Canaanland, Ota, Pastor David Oyedepo Jr., highlighted Spirituality as the bedrock for active youth engagement. He said Spirituality would result in global impact, “because the journey to global exploits begins with the knowledge of God”.

According to him, the depth of one’s knowledge of God was key to the impact one would make. He noted that the current limitation of young men and women was due to the limited discovery of the natural treasure in each one. A more profound connection with God was foundational to the exploration of the capabilities and potentials in them, he emphasized.

Pastor Oyedepo Jnr, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Administrators, posited that attaining and maximizing global impact required being visionary in approach to life. He said that the vision that resulted in global impact could only come from God, as He had blessed every human being to make a global impact. He stressed that by divine ordination, God had blessed the youths to create a functional effect to influence or serve their generation.

He noted that strategic precision in one’s adventure towards global impact required God’s direction in addressing confusion and birthing fruitfulness. “The old way of spirituality remains the pathway to global relevance,” he affirmed.

The Founder/CEO, African Hub, Mrs Oluneye Oluwole, speaking on the role of youths and SMEs in achieving SDGs 1 and 2 of ending hunger and poverty, respectively, said a 2015 global report showed that majority of the extremely poor of the world lived in Asia and Africa. She said it would take youths to create awareness for global action via social media instrument to command the discourse and effort needed to tackle poverty and hunger. She added that they would have to engage their creativeness, diversity, passion, and energy to become the voice of action today. She frowned at the notion that the views of youths did not count in advancing the necessary change.

Mrs Oluwole noted that youths and SMEs played essential roles in galvanizing adequate engagement for global action. However, according to her, these roles were time-consuming, non-profit, but generationally rewarding.

The Curator, Hebron Start-up Lab, Dr Oluwatobi Stephen, in his presentation, called for a radical review of the nation’s teaching curriculum to close the gap between producing and consuming countries of the world. Closing the difference, he said, would be achieved by ensuring students think entrepreneurship, instead of going about with the mentality of job seekers. According to him, the significant symptoms of consumer nations were high graduate unemployment, high youth dependency ratio, high level of crime, and corruption.

Dr Oluwatobi identified a considerable deficit in the knowledge economy as the difference between the developing/emerging economies of the world and the developing nations. He, as a result, canvassed for the need for adequate knowledge acquisition.

While speaking on the lessons from SDG Solution-17 for Climate Action in Covenant University, the CEO/Project Director, Creative Youth Community Development Initiative (CYCDI), Mrs Foluke Michael, said the world was in dire need of implementable answers to numerous problems ravaging the earth. The initiator of Solution 17 averred that the youth were the main actors to help birth the desired solutions.

Mrs Michael noted that the world needed massive youth engagement for global action by taking local responsibility to solve global problems. She appealed to youths, globally, to move from the realm of uncertainty to certainty, problems to solutions, passion to social impact, fear to faith, impossibility to possibility, and obscurity to the limelight, if they desire to hinder the continuous degradation of the environment and climate.

Chief Executive Officer of Wilson Lemonade Juice, Mr Seyi Abolaji, while addressing participants on the place of entrepreneurship in advancing global action, said it was imperative to correct the erroneous impression that engaging in an entrepreneurial endeavour was a status thing. According to him, “There is no pride in being an entrepreneur, and there is no shame in being an employee”.

Mr Abolaji advised youths to invest in themselves and dissipate less energy in pursuing certification, as the world paid attention to those who were value-adding agents rather than certificate holders. He said every young person should be proud of whatever it was that made them different by dedicating their potential to creating something new and of value instead of competing with others.

The Dean, Student Affairs, Covenant University, Professor Conrad Omonhinmin, speaking on ‘Youths and Leadership: Implications for Governance and Democracy’, opined that the influence of youths over political socialization and attitude towards governance, leadership and related interests in politics depended on their level of knowledge about history, politics, facts, and events.

He posited that youths in Nigeria had very little knowledge of what could be for a nation with immense potentials, due to their dwelling in a political bubble of an alternate reality. He added that the youths in the process lost touch with the significance of governance in the sound management of social, economic and political affairs and resources allocation.

Professor Omonhinmin said the nation’s youths needed to play an active role in designing and executing the required transformation to re-order democracy and democratic processes, reduce or eliminate inequality, waste and corruption, encourage collective engagement, responsibility, entrepreneurship and hard work.

In her welcome remarks, the Chairman, CU-CDIIC, Dr Tayo George, appreciated the University Management for the support in commemorating youths from around the world. She noted that the event would avail researchers the opportunity to harvest issues critical to the development of the youth and how best to engage them for sustainable development.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor AAA. Atayero, declaring the event open, said the United Nations initiated the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to secure a better future by addressing critical issues affecting humanity. He noted that the IYD provided a unique platform in raising the banner of the essential roles of young people in making the drive towards the attainment of the original goals of the SDGs a success.

Professor Atayero noted that while Africa remained the continent with the youngest population age bracket globally, her population must be empowered to play a vital role in attaining the continent’s fullest potentials.

The theme of this year’s International Day Celebration was ‘Youth Engagement for Global Action.’