By Adenike Fagbemi
African Youth & Adolescent Network on Population and Development (AfriYAN) Nigeria has inaugurated 7 new Executives to lead the Network for the next two years (2022/2023).
Elizabeth Talatu Williams, who has been part of the Executive Team of African Nigeria as the Deputy National Coordinator since its establishment in 2017, takes on a new mantel as the National Coordinator. Elizabeth is a development practitioner with seven years of work experience managing projects focused on sexual and reproductive health rights, gender-based violence, and health tech was elected as the National Coordinator. Elizabeth is the Executive Director of Sustainable Impact and Development Initiative, a youth-led non-governmental organization working to advance young people’s health. Elizabeth is a 2021 Chevening Scholar, 2020 Women Deliver Young Leader, YALI RLC, and CYFI Alumnus.
Anita Graham, a social worker, digital communicator, and feminist activist, was elected as the Deputy National Coordinator. Before her election, Anita had served as the Communications Officer for AfriYAN Nigeria since December 2020. Anita advocates for adolescent and young people’s sexual and reproductive health rights and has over four years of experience working to eliminate sexual violence against adolescent girls and young women. Anita is a 2021 Ban-Ki Moon Scholar for the Ghent University SRHR Summer School Program, YALI RLC Alumnus, 2020 Teaching Human Rights Fellow, 2019 Global Schools Advocate, and 2019 New Generation of Family Planning Leaders nominee.
Mercy Bolaji, who was elected as the Program Manager, is an advocate and expert with over five years of experience in programming for adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health and rights and education. Mercy is very passionate about creating a supportive environment for young girls and women to reach their maximum potential irrespective of the odds against them. Mercy is a member of the Reproductive Health Technical Working Group of the Federal Ministry of Health. Mercy is a Friedrick Ebert Stiftung OMYV Fellow. Mercy is currently a program coordinator with Stand With A Girl Initiative, contributing selflessly to its mission and vision.
Felicity Nneoma is a public health enthusiast, youth activist, SRHR Expert, data analyst, researcher, and SDGs advocate. Felicity has over 3 years of experience leading youth-led organizations and networks locally and internationally. Felicity is a member of the UNFPA youth cohort, a YALI Fellow, a young female trailblazer in SRHR space award, the IAHW Ambassador Nigeria 2022, Girls rising in Cross Rivers State recognition. Felicity was elected as the Communications Manager for the Network.
Ekene Moses Ani joins AfriYAN Nigeria’s Executive Team as the Executive Secretary for Health. Ekene is a researcher with exceptional programming and analytical skills. Ekene is a youth advocate and social crusader focused on adolescent and young people’s reproductive health, HIV, and gender-based violence.
Khalid Ahmed Kumo, who was elected as the Executive Secretary for Governance, is passionate about youth inclusion, youth employment, leadership and governance issues, human rights, and democratic governance. Khalid has over six years of experience leading youth-led organizations and networks locally and internationally and is a recipient of the Jewel Spotlight award, a Leadtots Fellow, a pioneer speaker of the Gombe State Youth Parliament, and a current member of the Nigerian Youth Parliament.
Al-Mustapha Usman Ahmed is a community developer, activist, legal advisor, education specialist, digital communicator, and advocate for good governance. Al-Mustapha is the Executive Chairman of UNICEF, a non-governmental organization committed to keeping the promise of the SDGs and building a better world for all, and has over 7 years of experience leading youth-led organizations and networks locally and internationally participating in decision making processes in his community. Al-Mustapha is a recipient of the Peace Ambassador award from the Universal Peace Federation and a YALI Fellow. Al-Mustapha Usman Ahmed joins the Network’s Executive team as the Executive Secretary for Education.
In her opening remarks, the Resident Representative UNFPA Nigeria, Ms. Ulla Elisabeth Mueller, commended the dedication, professionalism, and achievements of the previous Executives led by Shamwil Hassan and challenged the new Executives to build on the successes of their predecessors. “Across all development sectors in Nigeria, I am proud to announce that today UNFPA’s investment in Africa is yielding dividends, with African members now the most visible and vibrant faces of youth leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship, empowerment, participation, inclusiveness, and development in Nigeria and Africa. That is a legacy to be celebrated and a good foundation for new leadership to build on for even greater achievements.”
Erika Goldson, Deputy Representative, UNFPA Nigeria, also commended Shamwil Hassan and his team and reaffirmed UNFPA’s commitment to supporting African Nigeria. “Our support as UNFPA will not change. We will continue to support the platform and ensure that we provide the space for you to engage, build your capacities, and share your voice and messages with other young people in Nigeria and across the region.”
The immediate past National Coordinator, Shamwil Hassan, expressed his gratitude to the past Executives, the Network’s Board members, and its members at large. He called on African Nigerian members to support the new Executives and affirmed his commitment to supporting the new Executives.
Elizabeth Talatu Williams, in her acceptance speech, expressed appreciation for the support received from UNFPA since its establishment in 2017, and African members in Nigeria and the West and African Region. She expressed the Team’s commitment to advancing AfriYAN Nigeria as she stated “We hope to cover more ground. We hope to expand our work to more states and reach more young people with impact-driven programs and projects, while at the same time making sure that African members are proud to be part of the network wherever they may find themselves.”
The African Youth & Adolescents Network on Population and Development was established in Nigeria in 2017 by the United Nations Population Fund with the mandate to increase meaningful youth participation in Africa’s development while addressing the intersecting challenges in the lives of young people. The network is comprised of youth-led and youth-focused organizations working in the areas of sexual reproductive health & rights (SRHR), gender, education, human rights, governance, entrepreneurship, youth empowerment, and wellbeing.