IPC pioneers advancement of youths’ participation in Nigeria’s elections.

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The International Press Centre(IPC) Lagos recently held a one-day Inter Party Dialogue tagged ‘Advancing Youth Participation in Elections’ at All Seasons Conference Centre, Lagos.
The event attracted over 100 participants comprising youths, representatives of political parties, institutional stakeholders such as the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), National Orientation Agency(NOA), the media and related stakeholders.
The event which was moderated by Mr. Ayo Aluko-Olokun, a seasoned journalist, had in attendance resource persons including the Director, Media, Publicity and Civil Society Issues, Mrs Ijeoma Okey-Igbokwe; the Lagos State Director, National Orientation Agency(NOA), Mr Waheed Ishola; Civil Rights Activist, Mr Hassan Soweto, Mrs Tolulope Aderibigbe, representing the Executive Director, Kudirat Initiative for Democracy(KIND), Mrs Hafsat Abiola-Costello and the Editor-in-Chief, Africa Development Information (Afri-Dev), Mr Rotimi Sankore.
Mrs Ijeoma Okey-Igbokwe in her speech encouraged the youths to take up the responsibility of their inclusion in active politics by coming out to hold offices at their constituencies rather than remaining backstage and trouble tormenting agents of politicians. She decried a situation in which a 75- year old individual paraded himself as Youth Leader in a constituency comprising mainly youths within age range 18-35.
Mr Waheed Ishola advised the youths to compose themselves into strong and virile forces by setting agenda for themselves that would kick start their full involvements in partisan politics. While stressing that no political party in Nigeria, up till now, has been able to institutionalise internal democracy, he advised the youths to join political parties of their choice and influence elections in a manner that would enable them clinch the leadership mantle.
While speaking on ‘Advancing an Enabling Environment for the Participation of Youths in Governance’, Mr Hassan Soweto critically addressed the ills occasioned by the marginalisation of youths in governance, elaborating on the several problems and bottlenecks youths faced in their quest for involvement in seeking elective positions in Nigeria. He particularly made reference the the age limit issue for elective positions which had crippled a good number of active youths seeking relevance in governance and praised the emergence of the ‘Not too Young to Rule’ bill which he hoped would clinch the favour of the country’s legislative body.
Mrs Tolulope Aderibigbe on ‘Advancing Gender Considerations in Electoral Positions- Women as Catalysts for Development’ stressed the role of women in active politics, especially their involvements in aiding other individuals, who are mostly men, to ascend to political heights while being not duly compensated with democratic dividends. She urged men to part with the usual belief that women had no place in leadership as it had been discovered that a lot of women today performed better than some of their male counterparts in governance.
Mr Rotimi Sankore on the ‘Role of Local Governments in Governance and Human Development-Why Youths Should be Involved’, spoke extensively on the failure of local government services in Nigeria despite being the closest to the grassroot and resource-poor individuals. He made also an elaborate comparison between local government services in Nigeria and developed economies of the world stressing that Nigeria had a very long way to go to achieve good governance at the local government levels.
Representatives of political parties in attendance including Mr Jude Ojo of the Accord Party, Mr Dayo Israel of the All Progressives’ Congress and Mr Olaseni Ajayi of the National Conscience Party also took turns to address participants(youths) on improving their participation in electioneering and governance.
A breakdown of suggestions and recommendations by resource persons included the following:
•The youths should mobilise their voices count because with their numbers, they should constitute the beautiful bride at elections. They should however avoid electoral violence.
• The youths should set their political agenda and further strengthen strategies on advancing the ‘not too young to run’ campaign at local and state levels such that with their number they can set the political agenda for the political parties.
•The youths should become part of the decision making process in creating their future and not let others create their future for them.
•The youths should organise themselves and converge at a cross-cutting political party conference to address the issue of proper and adequate youth participation in elections.
•There should be more representation of women in governance in order that their voice is heard; the level of representation of women will determine the role they play. Women should build and equip themselves, have self confidence and generally prepare themselves to be viable for elective positions.
•To address the exclusion of some sectors, the number of available seats can be split in two with one part open for election while the other is left for nomination from the excluded groups – youths, women and people living with disabilities.
•For governance to succeed in Nigeria, local governments need to wake up to their primary responsibility of civil registration to provide adequate and reliable data for proper planning.
IPC with the support of ACTIONAID Nigeria and the UKAID through the Department for International Development (DFID), organised the dialogue in furtherance of series of citizens’ engagement and capacity building programmes for community members from 18 communities across six local government areas of Lagos State namely Amuwo Odofin, Surulere, Shomolu, Ikorodu, Lagos Mainland and Ifako-Ijaiye. IPC is implementing the programme under the Strengthening Citizens Engagement in Electoral Process(SCEEP).

 

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