Nigeria – National Council of YMCAs
Date of foundation of the YMCA: 1925Membership Status: Full Member
Full member of the World Alliance of YMCAs since: 1965
Brief YMCA History
Often described as the giant of Africa, Nigeria is a vast and densely populated country along the West Coast of Africa. It covers 923,768 sq.km with a population of 120 million. It was a British – Colony until October 1960 when it became independent. During the colonial days up till the late sixties, agriculture formed the bedrock of the nation’s economy supported by such mining resources as tin, limestone, iron- ore, lead, zinc and gold arriong others. However, oil discovery brought about a mixed scenario. First there was economic boom as the country’s foreign earning from oil export rose sharply. Later local and international observers began to sense a doom behind the boom as the original mainstays, of the economy, particularly agriculture, were either neglected or down-rated. Consequently, economic growth cannot match population growth. Masses of the people live in abject poverty while the bulk of the nation’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of few elites. Today income per capita in Nigeria is less than fifty thousand naira (N50,000) or five hundred dollars (US $500). There are 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja that constitute the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The first YMCA organized group was formed in the city of Kano in 1925 but that local church based group soon faded away until 1944 when the Lagos YMCA Central Club which later developed into the Lagos YMCA was formed. Taking a cue from Lagos, which was the country’s former capital city until the early nineties, YMCA groups sprang up in other cities and towns. YMCA work in Nigeria was further advanced by Fraternal Secretaries from YMCA movements in the UK (1958), International Committee of the YMCAs of the USA and Canada (1963) and German YMCA (1964). In 1962, the National Council of YMCAs of Nigeria was formed as an umbrella body of autonomous Local Associations. However, it was through the formation of the National Council that the YMCAs of Nigeria applied and were registered with the World Council of YMCAs at the meeting in Tosanzo, Japan in 1964 under the founding National President in the person of the late Chief Timothy Oluwole Oyesina. It was through this registration and affiliation that the franchise of the international YMCA family was brought to the National Council and subsequently to the Local Associations. YMCA work suffered a serious setback during the 3-year civil war the country went through in 1967 – 1970. Subsequently, the days of fraternal secretaries were over in April 2000 when the last from Germany left the services of the Northern Zone YMCAs. However technical personnel for VTCs (Vocational Training Centre) and other special projects are still being recruited from Germany.
The YMCA of Nigeria adapted the Paris Basis and Kampala Principles to suit local conditions until 1994 when a National Strategic Development Plan Workshop was held at the University of Lagos. One of the highlights of that workshop was the adoption of a Mission Statement which runs thus:
‘We provide relevant community based programmes and services that develop the mind, spirit and body of the youths and the less privileged on the basis of equality and justice and in accordance with the Christian mandate’
The statement was considered relevant to the past, present and future aspirations of our YMCA which initially focused on Youth Development Programmes, Leadership Training, Formal and Informal Education and Vocational Training. While these original thrusts are still relevant today, the statement is equally germane to new challenges arising from such phenomena as HIV/AIDS ethnic/religious conflicts, political violence and gender inequality.
Our main programmes centre around youth Empowerment, Gender Sensitivity, Poverty Alleviation, Leadership Development, Political and Civic Education and Capacity Building towards self reliance. We organise youth camps at local, national and international levels. Through leadership programmes we train the young people to develop the capacity to assume leadership roles in the affairs of the YMCA and their communities. At our 34th Annual General Meeting and Conference held last July, 2000 at Yola, Adamawa State, the National Council reaffirmed and implemented the policy of 30% youth representation on the National Executive Committee and directed Local YMCA boards to follow suit. We have organized leadership courses for various categories of our lay and professional members. We have Vocational Training Centres in different parts of the country for printers, carpenters, fitters, farmers, fashion designers and native cloth weavers. One of our National Standing Committees on gender issues is headed by a woman with a view to promoting the participation and leadership of women in YMCA affairs. We are currently involved in Adolescent Reproductive Health Project in collaboration with the USA YMCA and Packard Foundation. The objective of the project is to enlighten the youth on the prevention of the dreaded HIV/AIDS so that they can make wise choices for healthy reproductive lives. Another area of concern to us is Peace and Justice.
Address – National Office
National Council of YMCAs
GPO Box 2106
Fax: 00-234-1-269-4642 / 685-252
For hotel information, please contact YMCA National Offices directly.