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Youth UPF

World Environment Day and African Liberation Day Marked by Youth Leaders Summit in Abuja

Abuja, Nigeria - The Africa Youth Leaders Peace Summit was convened in commemoration of the 2009 African Liberation Day and held at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, Nigeria, from June 2 to 5 with the theme of the Role of Youth in achieving the Millennium Development Goals & Regional Integration of Africa. 

The Summit brought together a diverse group of young change agents, policy makers, experts, media practitioners, government institutions, civil society organizations, corporate bodies, faith-based organizations, researchers, and service providers across Africa. 


The event, which was organized by the Youth Federation for World Peace (Nigeria Chapter) and Youth Service Africa, in collaboration with Service for Peace, Teachers Without Borders, Fresh & Young Brains Development Initiative, Stop Cancer Foundation, Watchman Int’l Network, Peace Corps of Nigeria, and Int’l Youth Peace Tourism & Development Initiative, was proudly supported by ECOWAS, the United Bank for Africa, Delta State Government, Unity Bank Plc, among others. Media partners such as African Independent Television (AIT), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Independent Television (ITV), Leadership Newspaper, DBN, and several others gave the Summit the much-needed coverage for days. 

The Summit held in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria (Abuja) gave participants the opportunity to have first-hand experience of the culture of Nigeria, ‘Good People, Great Nation.’ They were warmly received by the Cultural Troupe on arrival.

The Summit agenda had a mix of Plenary Sessions, Addresses, Keynote Lectures, Paper Presentations, Capacity Building Sessions, Networking Meetings, and Reflection Sessions. With over 30 speakers and session chairpersons featured, it provided ample opportunities for participants to gain knowledge and share experiences as well as network with other change agents across Africa.

Opening Plenary

The Opening Plenary Session which began with the African Union and Nigerian National Anthems featured the welcome address by the Chief Host, the ECOWAS President, His Excellency, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambers represented by Dr. Adrienne Diop - the Commissioner for Human Development and Gender, ECOWAS Commission.

In his address, the ECOWAS President said, “The Achievement of Peace is an important pillar in the quest for development, progress and the achievement of the MDGs in Africa. Without Peace, development will be elusive. For this to be achieved, youths have a critical role to play.

“As you put your heads together to share experiences and learn from each other, you should project into the future and come out with recommendations that ginger youths, development partners and civil society organizations to provide the needed support to the development and empowerment of youths.

“The world is looking up to you to contribute to change the present status quo and provide the world with a new order.” He concluded.

The Session was Chaired by Chief Senator Kanu Agabi, who has held several key positions in the Nigerian Government (Former Attorney-General of the Federation, Former Special Adviser to the President on Ethics and Good Governance, Former Minister).

In his opening remarks, while commending the organizers of the Summit for the initiative he said,

“As we celebrate our freedom, this is the time to examine our present condition and ask ourselves a few pertinent questions: Are we really free? Can we say that we are truly free when all over the continent a vast majority of our people have no say in the election of their leaders?

"Have we been able to rid ourselves of every vestige of dictatorship arising from military rule? Can we say that we are free when a vast majority of our people live in abject poverty and have no hope? The development of our continent is our responsibility.

I have a pledge for you. I call upon every African youth here to say after me:

"I am an African for whom the time has come, to stand up and be somebody. To embrace truth and peace. And to avail myself of all my talents, in the service of my continent and humanity through self-reliance and sacrifice. So help me God!"

With these words he declared the Summit opened.

The Keynote Lecture entitled “Character Development as the Foundation for the Achievement and Sustenance of Peacebuilding, Millennium Development Goals and Regional Integration” was delivered by John Ipuole Oko, the President of Youth Federation for World Peace (Nigeria Chapter) and Coordinator, Youth Service Africa (Chairman of the Organizing Committee).

In his lecture, he identified that every individual requires two dimensions of education (education for character and education for career) in order to pursue the two dimensions of value but stated that priority must be given to education for character while quoting the Greek Philosopher, Heraclitus who said that “Character is Destiny.”

He further identified the 3 moral goals of education to include Maturity of Character, Loving Relationships (especially in the family), and Contribution to Society which were explained in detail. He also said that 3 partners, namely, Home, School and Community are supposed to work together to raise a balanced educated person.

He said: “If we are to achieve and sustain Peace, MDGs and the Integration of our continent, the surest way is for us to become people of mature character who practice the principle of living for the sake of others. I hereby challenge us all (African Youths) to become people of mature character who can establish loving families and contribute to society.

“Especially as young people, I challenge us to be people who can control our sexual desires as a demonstration of maturity of character and a commitment to live for the sake of others.”

He concluded his presentation with 2 quotes. First, from the letter of a headmaster to his teachers:

Dear Teacher,

I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness: gas chambers built by learned engineers, children poisoned by learned physicians, infants killed by trained nurses, women and babies shot and burned by high school and college graduates. So I am suspicious of education.  My request is: Help your students become human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, educated Eichmanns. Reading, writing, arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human.

Second, from The Great Learning:

When there is Righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.

He called on all African Youths to join hands with the founders of the Universal Peace Federation and Youth Federation for World Peace, Dr. & Mrs. Sun Myung Moon who are pioneering several initiatives geared towards achieving peace all over the world.

Goodwill Messages were presented by Dr. A. A. Roberts - Coordinator and Project Team Leader, Global Partnerships Development Initiative, African Business Roundtable and NEPAD Business Group, Africa, and Dr. Mathias J. Eka (JP), National President, Niger Delta Peace Movement.

This was followed by Video Presentation on Introduction to Ambassadors for Peace and Special Award ceremony for International Youth Ambassadors for Peace given to some personalities drawn from diverse backgrounds and sectors in recognition of their contribution to peacebuilding and societal development.

The Opening ceremony also featured special drama presentation by the Epoch Theatre Group on the Summit theme, Musical performance by Papa Monak and his Group tagged ‘Clarion Call’ and a cultural dance by the National Art and Culture Troupe.

Summit Sessions

Summit Sessions commenced on Wednesday, June 3, 2009 with a tribute to Late Dr. Tajudeen, a Pan-Africanist who died in an auto crash in Kenya in May 2009.

Adams Peter Eloyi, spokesperson for SpeakAfrica Project spoke on the African Youth Charter and the Decade of the African Youth while Stephen Oguntoyinbo from Generations for Peace highlighted the importance of Sports as a Universal Language and Hope for this Generation. Questions were asked and discussions were held on how state parties can ratify the African Youth Charter and how best to domesticate the Charter. There were also questions on how young Africans can tap into the next Generations for Peace projects.

Rev. John Joseph Hayab, Secretary, Christian Association of Nigeria, Kaduna State Chapter discussed the important Role of Religion in Promoting Peace in the Society. Dr. A. A. Roberts revealed opportunities available in the International System for Africans and Africans in the Diaspora for achieving Sustainable Peacebuilding, MDGs and Regional Integration. The paper on Ethics and Morality as Foundations for Leadership presented by Chief Sen. Kanu Agabi attracted a lot of interest by the participants. Questions were asked on what Africa as a continent can do to produce Moral and effective leaders and how to check the excesses of corrupt leaders. Participants and speakers agreed that Leadership in Africa should be founded on the principles of Ethics and Morality.

The sessions that took place on Thursday June 4, 2009 were first the Special Session on Tourism and Environment, this started with a pre-presentation on the Niger Delta: Features and Prospects by Dr. Mathias J. Eka JP, National President, Niger Delta Peace Movement.

Then the proper session on Tourism and Environment as a tool for development commenced and was facilitated by Prince Sammi Okpalaeze, President, Int’l Youth Peace Tourism & Development Initiative (IYPTDI). Alh. Saleh K. Rabo - MD, All States Travel, Abuja, presented a paper on Travel and Tours: A Strategic Tool towards engaging Youth in Tourism for sustenance of regional integration of Africa. He was joined by Ibrahim B. Mustapha, GM, Niger State Tourism Cooperation, who represented Hon. Umar Mohammed Nasko, Hon. Comm. Tourism & Culture, Niger State, who spoke on the topic“Tourism and Environment: Partnership for Promoting Investment in Tourism: the Niger State Success Story”.

Mr. Amana A. M. was the Chairman of the “Tourism and Environment” Session representing the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Orientation, Nigeria. Goodwill Remarks were made by Mr. John Odey - Hon. Minister of Environment, Federal Republic of Nigeria who was the Distinguished Guest of Honour represented by a Deputy Director in the Ministry.

The Minister in his remarks had a lot of praise for the organizers of the summit and encouraged partnership with the Ministry on future programs.

There was a special session by the Chief Host of the Summit - ECOWAS Commission. Prof. Ade Adefuye - Special Adviser to ECOWAS President on Good Governance presented a paper on Youth Involvement in Peacebuilding while Mr. Kennedy Zaro Barsisa - Principal Programme Officer, Youth, Sports & Employment, ECOWAS Commission discussed Youth and the Challenges of African Integration: the West African Experience.

The afternoon session started with a presentation on the Role of Youth Participation in Peacebuilding and Sustainable Development by Amb. Ogenekaro E. Ekewenu - MD/CEO, Karokewenu Limited, Delta State, Nigeria. He was joined by Pleased Prophet (Dr.) Friday Ibanga - Chaplain Service Servant, The Chaplain Mission of Nigeria who challenged the Youths to ‘Say No to Restiveness.’ Amb. Dickson Akor - National Commandant, Peace Corps of Nigeria spoke on the Role of Youth in Peacebuilding in Africa. He was represented by Patriot Edet Ekpenyoung - Asst. National Commandant (General Duties), Peace Corps of Nigeria.

Veronica Ugwu - Regional Focal Person, Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA) West Africa spoke on Youth Development and Empowerment as paramount for National Peace and achievement of the MDGs: The GYCA Approach. The day’s activities were brought to a close with a capacity building workshop on the Universal Principles for Peacebuilding by John Ipuole Oko - the President of Youth Federation for World Peace (Nigeria Chapter).

The sessions that took place on Friday June 5, 2009 focused on experience sharing, service project learning, networking meetings and reflection writing.

Mr. Chester T. Neese from Youth In Stand of Humanity and Developmental Action Inc. (YOSHUDEA)-Liberia, made a statement on the experiences of young people in Liberia.

In commemoration of World Environment Day, there was a special session on Environment-related Service Projects. The presentations were aimed at educating the participants on how to contribute to community development through Service projects.

Prince Sammi Okpalaeze, President of Int’l Youth Peace Toursim & Development Initiative introduced participants to the Concept of Service Project while Barrister Nkiruka Nnaemego, CEO/Founder of Fresh & Young Brains Development Initiative, made a Special presentation on the Service Project done in commemoration of the 2009 Global Youth Service Day Celebration at the Abuja Children’s Home. She also gave an update of upcoming Youth events in Nigeria and encouraged participants to avail themselves of such opportunities to empower themselves.

Participants were shared into teams to discuss on the service projects they will carry out in their local communities as a way of practicalizing lessons learnt as well as contributing to societal development. Each team had a leader and a secretary who represented them in the plenary session.

Participants were encouraged to share experiences with one another during the Networking meetings session. They engaged themselves in discussions on their individual goals and projects as well as exchanged contacts.

Summit Communique Drafting Committee met and came up with the Communique. There was Reflection writing by participants which serves as an objective feedback to the organizers and partners for more successful summits in the future.

Closing Cermony

During the Closing Ceremony which took place in the evening of Friday 5th June 2009, the Honourable Minister of State for Education (Nigeria), Hajiya Aishatu Jibril Dukku was present to declare the summit closed. Together with other distinguished personalities including Adamu Abdu Loko (Zannan Loko) she was presented with the Youth Ambassador for Peace Award. In his closing keynote lecture, John Ipuole Oko reiterated the importance of Character Development as a foundation for the achievement and sustenance of Peacebuilding, MDGs and Regional Integration of Africa. He advocated for a total overhaul of the educational sector saying:

“As we know, during graduation ceremonies, graduants are said to have been ‘found  worthy’ in ‘character’ and in ‘learning.’   Meanwhile, some of the graduants were involved in examination malpractices, secret cultism, prostitution, and other social vices. Can we say that these are people found ‘worthy in character?’ Infact, throughout their entire schooling years, how many courses did they take on Character Development?

“We must review our educational curriculum and ensure that Character Education becomes an integral part of it. Good enough, our organisation now has wonderful materials well developed that can be used irrespective of our national, religious and other affiliations.”

The Minister who keenly listened to the lecture was so impressed that she promised to collaborate with the organizers in the nearest future to organize programs that will positively impact the educational sector of the country.

Participants were given their certificates of participation. There was a musical performance by Papa Monak and Group titled ‘African Union’ and a special video documentary on the Summit proceedings was played. The Summit came to a close with a Vote of Thanks by Mr. John Ipuole Oko, the Chairman of the Organizing Committee.

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