Greetings, our dear leaders of tomorrow and change agents of today. Nothing gladdens my heart more than to witness a gathering of young people at any of our Model United Nations conferences. Young people gathering for all the right reasons.

Young people are an interesting group of people. And the world has 1.8 billion of them. The time of youth is such a time of zest and vitality. Youth is time of discovery and adventure. If young people had their way, they would make merry every day of their lives. But alas! The situation of their environment and the realities of the times have made it near impossible to be a young person free from undue worry and pressure. It would seem therefore that something has been taken from the young generation. A significant part of their innocence has been eroded – and they will have no else to blame but their leaders.

Leadership is responsibility. The importance of leadership is taught to young people at every corner; at home, at the dinner table, at school, with regards to their studies, and amongst their peers. Young people are taught to take the initiatives and make things happen. Young people are taught to avoid bias and prejudices so that they can be tolerant and fair among their peers and within society. The virtues of a role model kind of leadership is touted on every news station, and wrapped in every good will message. We have heard it so much; we know what leadership is meant to look like. Yet, it looks nothing like what we see around us. Young people have been lied us – they can no longer trust their leaders.

The concept of trust is a universal one. Trust like time can be very fragile.  Trust implies a certain level of confidence in something or someone. Confidence in a person cannot exist in a vacuum – there must have been an experience that helped to build the trust. That experience must have been repeated and consistent. Therefore, it is in the repeated and consistent experience of confidence brought about by the desirable actions of a person that inspires trust between persons.

Young people no longer trust their leaders. Instead of the repeated consistent experience of desirable actions by the leaders, young people have experienced dismay, shock, and bias from their leaders. They do not experience what they have been taught about the virtues of leadership. They do not see the morals they have been ingrained to expect from their leaders. The feel cheated, lied to, and conned.

Many leaders today are exact opposites of classroom heroes. When leaders brawl in public spaces exchanging fisticuffs without shame, what does that say to young people? We told you not to fight but here we are fighting every day. When leaders practice nepotism placing only their tribal brothers and sisters in positions of authority and advantage, what does that say to young people? We told you that we are united and every one should be treated the same but here we are being ethnically biased. When leaders ignore the fundamental human rights of their people – right to affordable health care, right to education, and right to life, what does that say to young people? We told you all humans are created equal and everyone matters but here we are disrespecting the value of human life. Young people can attest to the repeated consistent experience of undesirable actions that builds cynicism, distrust, and disrespect.

If it took actions – repeated, consistent and undesirable – to erode trust? Then, it should take actions – repeated, consistent, and desirable – to rebuild the trust between young people and their leaders. For if young people cannot trust their leaders now, at these tender sensitive ages, what level of distrust and disrespect would they have developed against their leaders. It is alarming to imagine the damaging effects on the young people and the catastrophic resultant effect over the years. We hope that leadership would evolve in a positive way to correct the errors of negative modeling on young people.

This is the hope behind the 2021 NigMUNS Conferences.