15 SAFE SPACES FOR YOUTHS IN NIGERIA

It is the International Youth Day and the theme for 2018 is Safe Spaces for Youth. Here is a list of 15 safe places in Nigeria curated by SocialGood Lagos. We. believe that this theme is a very important one because the features of settings where young people spend their time decisively impact their development. Hence, creating safe spaces should be an integral component of societies if they aim to enhance positive youth engagement and development. It is important to note that the concept of a safe space can mean different things to different youth populations.

To a youth population denied active participation in politics, a safe place is a platform that amplifies their voices and allows them to exert political influence. For young people lacking social skills, a safe space is somewhere they can learn, practise and perfect new skills. It then follows that safe places for any youth population is related to their diverse needs and interests. The United Nations has provided four categories of safe spaces and they include: Civic Spaces, Public Spaces, Digital spaces and Well Planned Physical Spaces.

In subsequent paragraphs, we will explore these different categories giving four examples of each in Nigeria. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and our picks in each category are not the only safe spaces in Nigeria.

CIVIC SPACES

These are platforms that enable youths engage in governance issues. It is important to guarantee the safety of civic spaces especially. in Nigeria where we are yet to see the dawn of the proverbial tomorrow in the cliché “youths are the leaders of tomorrow.” We have chosen four examples of civic spaces that enable youths participate in governance and decision making in Nigeria

YIAGA AFRICA: Founded in 2007 as a student association in the University of Jos, Plateau State, YIAGA AFRICA is one of the organizations that championed the course of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill which was recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari. With its operational base in Abuja, Nigeria, it is a youth-based non-governmental organization that promotes democratic governance, human rights and youth political participation.

“It’s no longer a question of whether young people can take leadership, it’s whether the rest of the world can keep up with them.” — Jayamatha Wickramanay, UN Youth Envoy

LEAP AFRICA: With its various projects and programs aimed at inspiring, empowering and equipping a new cadre of African leaders, LEAP Africa is a civic safe space for Nigerian Youths as it prepares them to engage in governance issues. With initiatives like the Social Innovation Program and iLEAD, the organization provides youth with the skills and tools for personal, organizational ad community transformation.

THE PLATFORM NIGERIA: Convened annually since 2007, the platform seeks to enlighten the youth population about the intricacies of governance so that they are armed with the right information to engage in a more strategic way and change the course of Nigeria. The Platform is a nationally recognized forum that enables youth to engage in governance.

North East Regional Initiative (NERI): NERI is a civic safe space for Nigerian Youths as it offers alternatives to extremist action to vulnerable youth populations in the North East and it allows youths lend their voices to counter violent extremism in the North East with its #NotAnotherNigerian campaign and Social Innovation Fellowship.

DIGITAL SPACES

The digital space allows youth to communicate instantly and permits access to information, networks and opportunities regardless of physical accessibility or location. It allows youth connect on topics ranging from pop culture to politics irrespective of their background or geographic location. These digital spaces operational in Nigeria include:

Zegist.com: is a digital social community where you get paid for sharing stories that matter to you. You can make new friends, discuss your opinions openly or anonymously and enjoy conversations. Zegist not only allows you to connect with other youths on topics of interest, it also rewards most engaging stories on a monthly basis. Winners in different categories win $30, $20 and $10.

Twitter: Twitter is a digital safe space that allows youth communicate on and exchange ideas on a wide range of topics. It has hosted many Tweetathons and hashtag-driven campaigns and discussions initiated by Nigerian youths around different topics like education, finance, health, entertainment and the list goes on.

Opportunity Desk: Started by Grace Ihejiamaizu, Opportunity Desk is a digital space that bridges the gap to education by sharing information on relevant learning and growth opportunities for youth around the world. These opportunities help to facilitate young people’s efforts in exchanging ideas and preparing themselves for the future.

BudgIT Nigeria : This is a digital space that allows Nigerian citizens to access and monitor information about the country’s annual budget. BudgIT’s operation is to simplify the Nigerian budget and public data, making it accessible to the general public in order to aid participatory governance. Hence, this is a digital space that allows youth to access information.

PUBLIC SPACES

Public spaces afford youth the opportunity to participate in sports and other leisure activities. We have a number of easily accessible public spaces in Nigeria where youths participate in sports and leisure at little or no cost. We have listed four of them here:

Olumo Rock, Abeokuta: With a height of 137 metres above sea level, Olumo Rock which was used as a fortress by the Egba people in the early 19th century is now one of Nigeria’s favourite places for sport and leisure. A trip to Olumo Rock usually commences with a climb up the man-made stairs carved into the rock. The journey continues with climbs on irregularly sized rocks (or ladders which are now provided) through a narrow corridor that leads to the top of the rock. Because it is easily accessible, many youths visit Olumo Rock for sports and leisure.

Lekki Conservation Centre: With its Canopy walk described as the longest in Africa, Lekki conservation centre (LCC) covers a land area of 78 hectares. Asides the possibility of playing board games, and having a picnic at Gazebo, it is a place that allows you appreciate the sight of plants and animals in their natural habitat. The fee for adults is 1000 Naira. Run by the Nigerian Conservation Fund (NCF), this is a physical space that ensures the safety and dignity of youths.

Agodi Gardens, Ibadan: A serene environment on 150 acres of land, Agodi Gardens is one of the go-to leisure centres in Ibadan. The diverse tropical trees in the garden are often used by youths for picnics and other social gatherings while enjoying the cool breeze. Accessible with a fee of 500 Naira, this is a physical space that allows youth to carry out leisure activities

Ikogosi Warm Springs

Located at Ikogosi, a town in Ekiti State, south-western Nigeria, the Ikogosi Warm Springs is a physical space that attracts significant youth traffic. Its main attraction is the the presence and confluence of a warm spring and a cold spring. Even at the confluence, both springs retain their thermal properties.

PLANNED PHYSICAL SPACES

Planned physical spaces can help to accommodate the needs of diverse youth especially those vulnerable to marginalization and violence. We have also listed four examples of digital spaces that ensure the Please find below the four examples below:

Community Resource Centre (CRC): With centres in more than 25 states of Nigeria, the objective of the CRC project is to promote the adoption of ICT at community level for social and economic development in semi-urban and rural un-served and under-served areas. The centres are fully equipped with desktop computers, furniture, telephone, power generator, and bandwidth to provide access to telephone, internet, ICT and e-initiatives.

CCHub, Yaba, Lagos: CcHUB is Nigeria’s first open living lab and pre-incubation space designed to be a multi-functional, multi-purpose space where youths work to catalyse creative social-tech ventures like BudgIT. The HUB is a place for technologists, social entrepreneurs, government, tech companies, impact investors and hackers in and around Lagos to co-create new solutions to the many social problems in Nigeria.

Slum2School STEM and Innovation Labs Makoko: Located at the Anglican Primary School, Makoko in Lagos state, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and innovation laboratory is a direct result of a partnership between Slum2School Africa and Interswitch and it is equipped with laptops, books and other learning materials to enable pupils in Makoko -a heavily populated slum community- have access to technology education.

Slum2School STEM and Innovation Labs, Makoko

Do you know any other safe places in Nigeria? Let us know in the comments section.

Article written by Pelumi Obisesan

Co-founder, Social Good Lagos