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Youth UPF

International Youth Day Celebrated in Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria - In celebration of the UN International Youth Day, Aug. 12, 2010, the Universal Peace Federation and Youth Federation for World Peace-Nigeria held programs in three states on the theme of "Healing Our World: Vision-Mission-Passion."

On Aug. 12, 14, and 15 organizers partnered with government, corporate bodies, NGOs, faith-based groups, civil society organizations and individuals to celebrate the International Youth Day in several ways focusing on four major areas: youth engagement, youth education, youth service, and recognizing youth commitment and excellence.

The events were designed to be holistic, focusing on both the material and spiritual dimensions of youth development and their contributions to society as adults.Intergenerational dialogue took place promoting co-existence, the well-being of everyone, and adherence to universally shared value by encouraging both the young and the old to become catalysts for individual, society and national youth development and change towards sustainable peace.

Activities took place in three major states of Nigeria: Abia, Oyo, and Lagos.

ABIA STATE RALLY, AUGUST 12

This state has been going through very tumultuous times. Several kidnappings of Abia Indigenous people and other have made headlines. In addition to kidnappings of people thought to be wealthy or famous, the most recent news was the abduction of three Nigerian journalists who were released after almost two weeks of excruciating trauma. Normally, on such occasions government and various elements of society blame each other.

The Youth Federation for World Peace and Universal Peace Federation did not go to Abia to do this. Instead, we went to foster the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation among its people and proclaim the motto of One Family Under God. Each state in Nigeria is known for a particular slogan. For instance, Lagos is known as ‘The Center of Excellence,’ and Abia state is called ‘God’s Own State.’ So it was natural to declare 'One Family Under God' as a motto for people who once lived together peacefully as a family.

On August 12, 2,000 youths attended a rally at the Abia School of Technology and then a march promoting positive slogans appealing for peace and mutual coexistence. This was supported by several organizations: the student union, vice chancellors of schools, the police, and corporations. 7-UP and Indomine Noodle Companies supported the rally and donated food and drinks for all participants.

OYO STATE DEBATE, AUGUST 14

Election campaigns in Nigeria, as in many parts of the world, are usually marred by violence and youth unrest. Nigerian elections are just around the corner (starting in December 2010 and continuing through the first quarter of 2011). This is the right moment to start sensitizing all sectors of Nigerian society about the need for tolerance and strict adherence to the rule of law.

To this end, several aspirants for political office were invited to a debate on 'The Role of Youth in Good Governance' at the Nigeria Union of Journalists center in Ibadan. The audience consisted of over 150 youth and community leaders who expressed concern about how easily political leaders can change as soon as they win elections. They wanted to know what guarantee the candidates could offer that they would uphold their campaign promises.

Eras Darlinton Eguaoje, the National President of YFWP-Nigeria, explained the vision about good leadership promoted by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Youth Federation for World Peace and Universal Peace Federation. He emphasized the need for religious leaders to promote good governance and hold political leaders to high standards. According to Father Moon, the absolute standard of morality is God. Understanding God’s original standard and way of life is the only genuine way to correct the social, economic, and political problems the world currently faces.

The political candidates, some Christians and some Muslims, agreed that change has become inevitable at this time in Nigerian political history. Everyone in the hall, both the debaters and audience, were quite amazed at the cordial atmosphere and the attitudes of the candidates as they hailed, hugged, and said good things about one other.

LAGOS GALA EVENING, AUGUST 15

Finally on August 15, a gala evening program took place in Lagos to explain the worldwide work of the Youth Federation for World Peace and Universal Peace Federation, especially UPF's proposal to establish an interreligious council at the United Nations. Dr. and Mrs. Ojoh, who flew in from the United States on vacation but cut short the time with their family in order to attend this program, were deeply moved. The husband is a geologist and the wife a pharmacist; both are ordained ministers and involved in family counseling and supporting widows. “We truly appreciate that science and religion must work together to create the ideal world, and because we embody both professions we are veritable instruments for this unification," they said. "The church seems to have left its original purpose of service to humanity and is losing its hold on the secular world. Now Bill Gates is the one donating to the widows.” They were commissioned as Ambassadors for Peace and an exemplary couple at the May 15 commemoration of the UN International Day of Families.

Barrister Kunle Ishola, a candidate for governor, spoke about how he has been advocating on behalf of the poor and helpless in Nigeria, most recently when a multinational pharmaceutical company provided drugs to children in northern part of Nigeria that caused many deaths. Refusing to be bought, he made sure that justice prevailed by calling the corporation to account.

Mr. Adeyinka Adeyemi Funsho is another candidate for the House of Representatives. In his university days, while his classmates were pursuing a psychedelic life, he said he always busied himself collecting used clothing and items to redistribute to the needy. Such an orientation has characterized his life until today.

Earlier on, on May 30, Mrs. Kafiola Ajani, a midwife, organized an educational program for mothers about malaria prevention and treatment and early detection of breast cancer. Two resource people from the Lagos State Teaching Hospital gave health lectures, and the Youth Federation for World Peace president gave a lecture about character education. An official from the Red Cross urged participants to volunteer their time to serve their communities.

The gala culminated with commissioning six youth leaders as Young Ambassadors for Peace.

 

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