By Olanrewaju Adesanya
Hon. Adedamola Richard Kasunmu, Lagos lawmaker representing Ikeja II constituency and Chairman, House Committee on Youth, Sports and Social Development, has stressed the importance of the contribution of youths to the desired enduring peace in the world today. He has also urged the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to sheathe their sword and embrace dialogue in the interest of Nigerian youths. He made the call in an interview with Happenings in commemoration of the 2017 International Youth Day.
In your view, will you say the Nigerian polity has favoured youths with respect to enabling environment?
If we consider the education, empowerment, civic responsibilities, engagement, all these would give youths the opportunity to participate in the scheme of things.
What programmes does the Lagos State Government have in place to take youths off the streets?
There are a lot of vocational trainings that the State Ministry of Youth and Social Development is providing for youths. Even if those out of school youths have nothing to do, they are engaged in things they can use their hands to do and things they can do with their passion. If you don’t have the cognitive requirements for you to get to a particular level educationally, you still have the opportunity to get to where you want. The Ministry of Youth and Social Development works hand in hand with the House Committee on Youth and Social Development to achieve this.
We have put policies in place that the Lagos State Government would implement. We have had youth talent shows for the benefit of youths. We will continue to put programmes in place to ensure that youths of our time are fully engaged and fully prepared for the future.
A sector where youths need to do much is education, but now, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is on strike. What message do you have for them and the Federal Government so that the time of youths would not be wasted away?
I would not stop appealing to the Federal Government to get the youth back in school, because they need the education and our co-operation and we would definitely do everything within our capacity to ensure that the strike does not last long. We would continue to work with the necessary ministries and the House Committee on Education to get our children back in schools.
As the Chairman of House Committee on Youth, Sports and Social Development, what have been your achievements so far on sports development in the state?
There have been countless sporting activities in the state in conjunction with the Ministry of Sports, and the Sports Commission in the area of football, tennis, badminton and developing sports in schools in various localities in the five divisions in the state. We will continue to develop them as we know that stars can be produced through this.
How best can you assess this year’s theme for the International Youth Day, ‘Youth Building Peace,’ and what does it connote for the youth of the state?
I would like to thank God for yet another successful International Youth Day, which we celebrate every 3rd of August. This year’s edition was celebrated in Lagos and all over the country and the talents of youths were being showcased. We tried to encourage them in various activities, programmes and symposia, which were celebrated in a colourful manner in various regards. Youths were able to showcase their talents at this year’s event. I would say that this year’s edition gave us a lot of joy. There has been a lot of agitation for youth emancipation and having said that I would say that the “Not Too Young To Run Bill,” that was recently passed by the National Assembly would give room for a lot of our youths to get engaged in the leadership position of the country. It would give them a chance to build the nation because if you build the youth, you are building a nation. But if they are not happy, you cannot build a nation. The theme of this year’s edition, which is “Youth Building Peace,” is very important because if there is no peace and harmony, we would not have the kind of leadership structure that we want for this nation judging by what has happened in the country over the years.
My message to the youth of the nation is for them to build peace themselves. How do you do this? We need to join the bandwagon of leaders or else we will not achieve much. I am also a youth and I know what it means to give ourselves recognition to rebuild this nation. Now, one thing is that youths should avoid hate speeches. Let us move together, let us live in peace to create a better nation for ourselves.
Of course, Lagos State is a pacesetter in many aspects. It is my responsibility to get across to as many Lagosians as possible within the state, most of whom are youths. My advice to them is to get positively engaged. We must have a focus, we have to create a conducive environment to carve a niche for ourselves for the development of our character. If you have something doing there is no way someone can engage you to get involved in negative activities to be a miscreant or a thug for one reason or the other. The Lagos State Government, under our amiable Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, whom Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has tagged ‘Wonder Boy,’ has created a forum that a lot of youths can benefit from, which is the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF). This is where a lot of people, who have business ideas can have opportunity for loans. They can develop themselves and change the economic fortune of the state to be better than what we have currently, especially in the area of IGR.
Another way youths can help themselves is in the area of information. They should get involved in volunteering and ensure that they perform their civic responsibilities, get yourself engaged. If one, two, hundreds, thousands and millions of youths do this, they would be creating a lot of wealth that would change this nation gradually. Having said that, a vital aspect of this is for them to take their education seriously, this would adequately prepare them for the future. Another aspect is that we find a lot of youths on social media such as the Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Let us begin to use this positively and not negatively, let us use it to educate ourselves so that one way or the other if we are getting engaged and empowered, willfully we will build peace and I can assure you it would be the beginning of securing our future as youths.