In all of history, young people have paved the way for incredible change and technological breakthroughs. Yes, very many youth under the age of 24 have carved their indelible marks in the proverbial sands of time. Take a look at Facebook with the number of users that’s equal to one third of the world’s population. Facebook was developed by young people in their era. Young people that could have chosen to waste their time and talent. Young people who could have opted for a life on the wrong side of society. Instead, their significant contribution will linger even beyond their lifetimes.

It will not be right to think that young people today have changed for the worse, despite several incidences that we have witnessed thorough the world in recent times. We have seen the rise of civil disobedience. We have witnessed riots and chaos on our streets. We have been held hostages in our homes for fear of what some angry youth could do to us when we step out to go to work. In Nigeria, we witnessed the outrage of young people that ended badly with regards to loss of properties and lives. Still, young people have not changed for the worse.

There is a reason the youth have begun to tread a path that’s dangerously leading to a break up in society. There is an underlying reason for the hate and hurting – young people no longer trust the words and directions handed out by their leaders and institutions. Trust may have been broken. Something definitely has gone wrong. Young people seem to no longer trust the system.

A system that can be trusted is a system that is fair to all irrespective of race, colour, religion, gender, and class. Although, it may seem that our young people are discouraged by the show of nepotism, corruption, and human rights abuses going on in some quarters of governance, I would like to remind our young people that not everyone is corrupt, not everyone behaves in unethical ways, and not every leader disregard the rights of others, old and young notwithstanding.

In the same vein, our leaders and institutions can be said to have lost faith in the virtues of youth. In a world where technology rules – and young people being the drivers of tech, many leaders and institutions see youth as rebellious to the norms and standards of society. Many young people have taken advantage of technology to usurp authority, bully leaders, and defy the establishments of foundational institutions. It would seem that our leaders no longer trust the expected respectful and dignified mannerisms of well brought up youth – trust has been broken here too.

So, are both sides going to fold their arms and watch things go from bad to worse? I don’t think so. If we have all given up on the situation, we would not be here. Your presence here is the evidence that the wounds of the past can heal, the bridges of chaos can be reconstructed, and that fragile broken trust can be rebuilt. For it took in the initiatives of some leaders to put this conference together. It took the supports of certain institutions to see to it that young people play a vital significant role in mending the fences and forging a new positive narrative for the youth, going forward.

I have great hope. And you should too.

Our world needs more young people to dialogue. Our systems need more leaders to trigger communal healing initiatives, our institutions need to support the process for enduring change within and outside the systems of their influence, and our young people need to have the patience to see the birth of something totally new and lasting.

NITIMUN 2021 is a step in the right direction towards restoring trust in the system for youth, leaders, and institutions.