20 July 2016
Stakeholders have called on African youths and governments to actualise the aims of the African Union (AU) agenda 2063 aimed at building a prosperous and united Africa by 2063.
Participants drawn from the public and private sectors made the call at an event to mark the 40th Anniversary of the 1976 Soweto uprising organised by the South African High Commission in Abuja on Tuesday.
In his address, Special Assistant to the President on Youths and Students Affairs, Mr Nasir Adhama, called for promotion of economic integration and African unity.
Adhama, who was represented by Mr Khalifa Mustapha, also urged youths of both countries (South Africa and Nigeria) to drive initiatives towards the AU Agenda 2063.
“I call on Nigerian youths and students to establish a long-lasting mutual relationship for both countries to promote programmes on business relations for economic emancipation, social and cultural integration, educational and gender empowerment.
“I urge us to apply the lessons we learnt from the 1976 generation towards achieving the Africa we desire by 2063 as envisioned by the African Union,’’ he said.
In his solidarity message, President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, urged youths to be inspired by the lessons learnt from the 1976 uprising and facilitate the process of change towards development.
Wabba urged the Federal Government and African leaders to enhance citizens’ easy access to basic social amenities.
“Outsourcing and privatising the education sector is akin to apartheid; we say no to privatisation of social amenities.
“Looking at the lessons we can take from the 40-year-old event we are marking today, all Nigerians, particularly the youth, should advance issues that will address underdevelopment, unity and make our country and continent great.
“We remain committed to ensuring that all of us have an air of liberty whereby every citizen is able to access quality education, quality healthcare and will have a meaningful life that we can all be proud of,” he said.
Mrs Matheko Badana, a Director in the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation, emphasised the need for all Africans to take ownership of the AU Agenda 2063.
Badana also urged governments to internalise the policies of the agenda to achieve its goals before the set target and to enhance youth participation in national building.
“We speak about the triple challenges that we face – unemployment, poverty and gender inequality.
“All of these goals are great but we will not realise them without involving the youth of the continent.
“This document we call the agenda 2063 is a document that Africans should study; we should internalise it and we should hold our governments accountable.
“We need to be the watchdog of the policies drawn in the document to help us to reach these aspirations.”
She reiterated the need for governments in Africa to invest in education and skills development for citizens, adding: “we should not make it difficult for young people to access education.”
The South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Amb. Lulu Mnguni, lauded the contributions of African countries and the international community to the liberation of South Africa.
Mmguni said: “we are here talking to you as free people because of your efforts.”
He said the youth uprising in 1976 changed the socio-political society of South Africa and added that the ideals of the youth who led the uprising should continue to shape the African future.
“Those who chose to live for the people live forever,’’ he stressed.
The Soweto uprising was a series of protests led by high school students in South Africa that began on the morning of June 16, 1976.
Students from numerous schools protested on the streets of Soweto in response policies of the apartheid government.
It is estimated that 20,000 students took part in the protests.
They were met with fierce police brutality and the number of protesters killed by police is usually given as 176, but estimates of up to 700 have been made.
In remembrance of these events, the 16th of June is now a public holiday in South Africa, named Youth Day.