By; MUSA KUTAMA, Calabar
It has been asserted that the tension between young people and old
has been one of the key features of inter generational shifts pertaining to the control over power, resources and people.
This was contained in a paper presentation by Nyong Umo Edet, with a theme: ‘The Role of Young People in Peace Building’ during graduation
ceremony of Girls Power Initiative, an NGO in Calabar, Cross
The speaker noted that the position of young people in the society has a
bearing on their leadership potentials and their possible role in peace
Citing from United Nations, she said “The UN world population statistics, says that there are approximately 1.3 billion 15 to 24 years old people in the world and nearly 1 billion live in developing countries where conflict is more likely to have taken place.
“Against the backdrop of this demographic reality, coupled with the recent wave of social upheavals and humanitarian crises in different parts of the
world, the role and potentials of young people for change and positive
action towards achieving peace cannot be overemphasized,” she said.
Nyong Edet extolled the virtues of young people “Around the world, the
term youth, adolescent, teenagers and young peoples are often times
used interchangeably but occasionally differentiated. In peace and
conflicts, youth have multi-faceted roles. They can be heroes as well
as victims, saviours and courageous in the midst of crisis, and also
criminals in war zones. Often, male youths within the age group of 16
– 30 have been observed statistically as the main protagonists of
criminal and political violence. On one hand, youths are viewed as
vulnerable, powerless and in need of protection. On the other hands,
they are feared as dangerous, violent, apathetic and as threats to
“In North East Nigeria for instance, young persons (both male and
female) between the ages of 10 – 14 are being used willingly or
unwillingly as suicide bombers by the Boko Haram terrorist group. “
Noted that “There are many examples across the world of the
contributions that young people make towards peace building. A typical
example is Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani Female activist born on 12th
July, 1997. Malala is an activist for female education and the
youngest ever Noble Laureate (2014 Noble Peace Prize). Malala gained
international recognition when a Taliban gunman attempted to murder
her on 9th October, 2012.
“The key point to note is that with out recognizing youths as
political actors, their trajectories in peace building would likely be
ignored or under-utilized. To understand the engagement of youth in
peace building, various factors must be considered including
“Challenges that young people face due to armed conflict such as loss
of education, lack of employable skills and the destruction of the
stable family environment. Involvement of young people in armed
conflict and what they experienced physically, socio-economically and
psychologically during the armed conflict.”
She suggested that it is important to provide youth with training
opportunities to take an active part in peace building. With their
youthful energy and capabilities to follow technological trends, young
people could act as mediators, community mobilizers, humanitarian
workers as well as peace brokers.
“Furthermore, the engagement of youth in peace building can be ensured through active participation in arts, culture, tourism, sports and education.
” The innovativeness and creativeness of young people in those areas could be mobilized effectively by connecting them with wider peace building objectives such as building bridges between divided communities and ensuring a viable process of reconciliation.”
Earlier the chairperson, GPI Comfort Ikpi, in an interview with media
representatives expressed happiness.
“I am very Impressed and happy today as we graduated over 100 girls from different skills acquisition units fish farming,media cinematography tailoring among others. Calling on parents to bring their children to be trained,
training is for free,” she added.