2019 Election: YIAGA AFRICA, NDI holds Strategy meeting on Pre-election Observation

All is set for the Watching The Vote (WTV) Pre-election observation training nationwide as YIAGA AFRICA concludes plans to train its 774 Local Government Supervisors and 48 State Focal Points Nationwide.

As the largest citizen movement committed to credible elections in Nigeria, YIAGA AFRICA will be deploying a total of 822 Pre-election observers under is watching the vote project to observe and report the Pre-election environment ahead of the 2019 elections. This was revealed on Friday 26th October,  by the Project Director, Cynthia Mbamalu in Abuja, during a preparatory meeting with technical partners, National Democratic Institute (NDI) to review plans and strategy ahead of the nationwide training on effective observation of the prelection environment ahead of the 2019 general elections.

“The LGA Supervisors who will be serving as Long Term Observers are expected to be trained on how to observe various pre-election activities including preparatory activities by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), voter education campaigns by Civil Society Organisation (CSO), and National Orientation Agency (NOA), campaign activities as well as violence monitoring and reporting.”, Cynthia explained.

Speaking during the meeting, WTV Project Director, Cynthia Mbamalu said, the aim of the review meeting is to ensure YIAGA AFRICA builds a strong community of expert committed to credible elections saying it is important for Long term Observers to understand the pre-election environment. According to her, the Nationwide training which will be held in 33 training centres across Nigeria from 5th to 9th November will also access the quality of Long Term Observers as the organization remain committed to building a community of experts on credible elections.


2019: YIAGA expresses concern over low voter turnout

Mr Moshood Isah ,Media Officer of YIAGA AFRICA, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), on Monday expressed concern over the recurrent culture of low voter turnout during elections in the country especially as the 2019 elections approaches.

Isah in a document made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja said that statistics showed that since the 2015 general elections voter turnout was not increasing.

“With just over 29million Nigerians coming out to vote in 2015 and with 15 million determining the President out of 67 million registered voters, it is left to be seen if the current 84 million registered voters will translate into increased total votes cast.’’

Isah said unfortunately, the recent off circle elections did not give a good indication that voter turnout would increase in 2019.

This, he said was because since the 2015 elections, Nigeria had successfully conducted up to six governorship elections, three of which came within the last one year, with that Osun being the latest.

He said that interesting trends and exciting figures were recorded across all three elections by YIAGA AFRICA who observed all the off-circle the governorship elections after 2015.

The media officer said that this showed that INEC had consistently improved on deployment of election materials to polling units with steady increase in commencement of accreditation among other things.

He, however, said that the inconsistent nature of turnout of voters for elections was worrisome considering what was being recorded in the off-circle elections pre and post 2015 general elections.

He said that in Osun there were over 1.6 million registered voters and unfortunately, the figures did not match with the voter turnout for the election.

Isah said that voter turnout dropped from 54 per cent in 2014 to 45 per cent in the just concluded 2018 Osun election.

He said that the situation in Anambra was even more discouraging as less than a quarter of the total number of registered voters participated in the November 2017, governorship election.

He said that the Returning Officer of the election, Zana Akpagu, said a total of 2,064,134 residents registered as eligible voters for the election but only 457, 511,which was about 22.16 per cent, came out on Election day to be accredited.

The media officer said that similarly, with a registered voter of over 1.6 million, the Ondo governorship election in 2016 recorded 35 per cent voter turnout having seen about 585,000 people coming for accreditation.

He said that the Ekiti governorship election recorded just over 44 per cent turnout in 2018 compared to 50 per cent turnout it recorded in 2014.

Isah said that Kogi similarly presented just less than 40 per cent of registered voters for its governorship election that was conducted between November and December 2015, which he said,was relatively poor.

He said that since the 2015 general elections, all the off-circle elections conducted had not crossed the 50 per cent voter turnout mark.

He said that this was not a good sign because the electoral commission on its own part had made efforts to improve on the conduct of elections through the smart card reader among.

“While INEC is the main body responsible for administering elections in Nigeria, it is pertinent to know that without effective deployment of security and other stakeholders, the commission may just be working in a vacuum.’

Source: NAN


YIAGA AFRICA Concludes Nationwide Town Hall Meetings on Youth Inclusion

Having successfully trained young people across 34 states in Nigeria on Campaign, Advocacy and Movement Building (CAMB), YIAGA AFRICA on Wednesday revealed that its coordinators have successfully conducted 26 Town Hall meetings across Nigeria on promoting Inclusion of Youth in Government for Development.

Speaking during the evaluation and impact assessment workshop in Abuja, YIAGA AFRICA’s Program Officer on Youth, Ibrahim said, increased youth participation in governance in Nigeria has gradually become the topic of discussion in Nigeria’s political space as history is witnessing a huge rise in the competence and availability of Nigerian youths to contest for public office.

According to Ibrahim, the clamor by youths for inclusive governance has also evolved the conversation on youth affirmative action. “Presently, some competent Nigerian youth’s political ambitions are thwarted by the age long reason of “inexperience”, experience which can only be derived from stewardship or being given the opportunity to prove that knowledge gained is proportionate to the job description”, he said.  Youth affirmative action according to Faruk is the only policy that can ensure competent young Nigerians have a space at the decision-making table in Nigeria.

According to Ibrahim, “YIAGA AFRICA, with support from Ford Foundation elevated the discourse on youth affirmative action when she trained a cohort of 34 youths from the different states in Nigeria and West Africa on campaign, advocacy and movement building (CAMB) and equipped them with advocacy, organizing and mobilizing skills”.

“All organizers also conducted National Days of Action to political parties with demands for youth tickets, direct and democratic party primaries. This has yielded a crowd of young political aspirants in almost all political parties”, he said

Ibrahim said, a large chunk of organizers shared their experiences as skilled organizers. They also implemented activities which have been attributed to the knowledge gained during the CAMB training. Some of their shared experiences are captured in the context of their state engagement.

Speaking with one of the youth organizers from Ogun State, Adefemi Adeleke Soneye attributed the success of his townhall meeting the to the lessons learned on partnership as he leveraged on established institutions like INEC and local leaders in state to achieve more from the campaign. According to Sanusi Mabera from Sokoto state, the state was confronted with political crisis as political parties were at war with each other.  Amid all the drama, he was able to use his negotiation and organizing skills to bring members of all political parties together to understand the need for youth inclusion that can only begin when political parties give youths tickets.

Similarly, Joy Ehiozie Eghaghe from Delta state said she was able to leverage on the power of storytelling. She got audience with the Commissioner of Youths and Development in Delta State and explained the importance of a gathering of young people, political parties, INEC and key stakeholders to discuss the political future of Nigerian youths. The commissioner donated a bus to convey students for the townhall meeting and a beneficiary of the meeting who is the Student Union Government – President of Delta State University, Abraka is now a political aspirant.

In Katsina State, Abdulrahman Zubairu was able to leverage on emotions to connect with his target audience. He was able to build relationships and seek commitments from his partners. He ensured that INEC brought more computers to his local government, Funtua, in Katsina state. With more computers, needed more manpower, he also mobilized a group of young people to man the computers. The volunteers who are now named the ‘checklist movernment’ registered a total of 5,000 new voters. This makes Funtua local government the 2nd largest number of registered voters in Katsina state.

There are series of other success stories that have been attributed to the CAMB training.  YIAGA AFRICA Initiative is committed to ensuring that the CAMB organizers continue to Promote inclusive governance for development in Nigeria while strengthening the network of community organizers with a sustained drive for advocacy, community engagement and peer learning.


Program Assistant for Accountability and Justice with YIAGA Africa.

2019 Elections and Fate of Anti-Corruption War By Michael E. Agada

“In the grand scheme of things, our votes in every election cycle and particularly in 2019 will be one of the most proactive measures; we as citizens must take in this anti-corruption war and in the survival of our Nation.”

As the campaign around the 2019 general election builds up, it is expected that campaigners will fiercely debate on issues of corruption in Nigeria and the possible strategies they’ll employ to tackle it. Opposition candidates will provide best of comparative strategies in comparison with the incumbent government – and even cite examples of lopsidedness, witch hunt, nepotism, etc. on the part of the incumbent administration. Also, the incumbent government will lay bare progress analysis of their anti-corruption “gains” and how this helped to minimize monumental losses. Conversations on how the incumbent ostensibly embarked on the prudent economic management of Nigeria’s limited resources, alongside increased the country’s foreign reserves –despite a downturn in revenues – as compared to previous administrations. Emphasis on landmark court rulings secured in the life of the current administration will not be left out – they may even praise themselves for securing such rulings and in the same breathe lambast the judiciary for “arm-twisting” unfavourable rulings and its supposed inadequacies in fighting corruption. The “indictment” of the National Assembly on its alleged role in frustrating the anti-corruption war will not be spared.  From both side of the divide, many of these issues, as it relates to the anti-corruption war will be the highlight of the 2019 elections.

With a league of gap-truth politicians unleashed on the electorates,  the 2019 election contest will see opposition candidates and political parties brand imaginations as manifestoes, as the incumbents’ package mediocrity as excellence. The language of fairness will be replaced with flares of calumny: This will be one of the fiercest campaigns on corruption this county has ever seen. One thing to note is that all these campaign shenanigans will not be the substance, as they’re mere distractions. In the final analysis, the pedigree of the group and individuals concerned will be of utmost importance.

There will be so many strange campaign promises and slogans, but a campaign that focuses on the genuine desire to tackle and defeat the menace of corruption will not be one of them. Political aspirants/candidates riding on the back of the anti-corruption movement is as old as the country’s independence. It’s nothing new… It is one of the oldest campaign lines not just peculiar to politicians, but to military juntas as well – as corruption more often than not solely accounted for their reasons for taking over power. So expectedly, this will be a wave of a perceived renewed vigour in fighting corruption that will be more imaginary than actual. As much as there’d be genuine campaigns and strategies on tackling the issue of corruption head-on, there’ll also be campaigns of illusions and deceit. It will be a wave of distractions and of propaganda, reeling out nonexistent strategies to defeat corruption when they attain power or when they are (re)elected into office. The difference will be based on the individual or group concerned.

The reality of the difference for the next four years will be on election days in 2019. If we get it wrong at the point of electing new leaders, we’ll be expending so much energy and resources when the government is sworn in, and in many ways, this afterthought approach has contributed to the bane of Nigeria’s development since independence. We tend to react to issues rather than to be proactive. In the grand scheme of things, our votes in every election cycle and particularly in 2019 will be one of the most proactive measures; we as citizens must take in this anti-corruption war and in the survival of our Nation. What this means in simple terms is that, in our vote lies the power to prevent the next generation of treasury looters from gaining access to the national purse, in our vote lies the power to cut short the aspirations of serial human right abusers, and as a matter of fact, we can with our votes prevent silly persons from attaining political power. We must take responsibility, because, looking at our elections retrospectively, it is safe to assume that a greater percentage of the electorates do not properly understand the power of their votes, because if we did, there will be few occurrences of votes buying, or the facilitation of stomach infrastructure initiatives on polling days, and violent schemes of ballot box snatching, as the electorates will unite and rise against these ills. This is the gap that desperate politicians have explored over the years and have unduly perpetuated themselves in power as lords of an empire, and they go a step further by ruling like autocrats and oligarchs because they know that the gaps still exist to explore and be exploited – to the disadvantage of the country at large. This needs to change.

The fate of the Nation’s anti-corruption war will greatly depend on the antecedents of the candidates and party set-up, and not necessarily in their promises: In their records of service – whether in private or public capacity. Some fundamental questions electorates must ponder on are; “how did these candidates fare in positions of authority, either in the private or public led sectors? What is the extent and nature of their wealth: are they traceable or miraculously amassed? There is a high chance that they will be driven by the same philosophies that have guided their dignity/criminality as they lead in a position of authority. Make no mistake, change is not automatic, and the idea that their stewardship will not matter as they’d probably be changed individuals is deluded. Why this is more important is that the success and failure of the anti-corruption war aren’t usually decided when a government is sworn into power, it will not even entirely be decided by the policies of the government in power, it’ll rather be greatly decided on the day of the election. So as electorates troop to their various polling units to cast their vote, it will not only be a vote cast for the candidates/parties of their choice, it will be a vote cast in favour or against their future; the survival of the anti-corruption war and the country at large, as this will greatly hang on the shoulders of the individuals they pitch their tent with on election day. Such is the significance of this singular moment that it calls for deeper reflection of the choices we must undertake to either make or mar our destiny as a Nation. The profoundness of this in our national life is greatly captured in the words of a great thinker and proponent of human liberation, Frantz Fanon as he succinctly puts it when he stated that ‘‘Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it.’’

This generation cannot afford to continue to make similar mistakes of the past. Many of the challenges we have faced as citizens, and the precarious position that the country finds itself today is a direct consequence of our electoral decisions over the years.

At the forefront of the anti-corruption campaign, as youths, as electorates and citizens, the fate of the anti-corruption war lies greatly with us – as the choices, we’ll make in 2019 will either position us to betray or fulfil destiny. We must rise above hate and the euphoria that comes with these political moments and be constantly reminded that our great country’s destiny will be – as it relates to the anti-corruption war (whose success is sacrosanct to the advancement of our nation) – greatly dependent of the choices we’ll make come Election Day in 2019.

Michael Agada is a Program Assistant for Accountability and Justice with YIAGA Africa. He’s an undaunted believer in Democracy good governance and an advocate of youth participation in governance process. He tweets from @MichaelAgada on twitter. 





Political Parties as the Bane of Youth Candidacy – Linda Chiahoake

It is becoming a sour taste as the new voices and energy ushered in through the signing and passing in of the Not Too Young to Run bill gradually fades into extinct. The bill which had cause uproar of excitement across Nigeria especially among the youths can now be said to be an unattainable reality. Many Nigerian youths have over the inception of the bill indicated interest for different offices come 2019 with the help of the bill which serves as a tale of faith, hope and a chance for transformation. The bill since inception becomes a well-defined setting and a realistic backbone for youth inclusion. Unfortunately, months after the Not Too Young to Run bill was signed into law, the hope and young aspirants enthusiasm to run for different positions come 2019 seems to have reduced to a large.

This may not be unconnected to the fact that political parties are adamant in maintaining outrageous nomination fees irrespective of awareness created by the Not Too Young To Run Movement. The Movement in collaboration with other Civil Society Organisations and volunteers, carried out several advocacies which included a National Day of Action across the federation with the aim of ensuring Youth candidacy and reduced cost of party nomination forms along with democratic primaries.   The movement advocated for equal level-playing field for all aspirants during party primaries to ensure a transparent process.

Unfortunately, the alarming amount at which the forms were sold made sure many young aspirants had to reconsider their stand, some had recoiled back into their shell while others have decided to withdraw and come back in 2023. However, some young aspirants were determined to pursue their quest even with the high cost of obtaining a nomination form. Some also have termed Nigeria to be a country where only the rich have the power to rule.

Data from the Ready To Run movement showed that most of the young aspirants losing interest in running for various offices are those who are unable to meet up with the purchase of the party forms within the stipulated time of purchase. With the Not Too Young To Run campaign and advocacy, one will expect the cost of party forms will be made relatively affordable considering young aspirants who may not have attain that level of affluence like older aspirants. This high cost in party forms goes a long way to question the obvious, that is, if the interest of the youths were captured while passing the bill or if it was just a mere stunt for publicity and part of political campaign.

According to Sam Namo a young aspirant vying for the office of senate has frowned at the high cost of party form. Another young aspirant has suggested that the’ Not Too Young to Run’ be change to ‘Not Too Poor to Run’. As funny as this suggestion may look, it is a perfect picture that clearly shows the frustrations and predicaments of young aspirants whose dream for a better Nigeria gradually fades to thin air.

As usual, the typical Nigeria campaign circle revolves around the elites and the older generation, while youth inclusiveness which is the panacea for transformation of Nigeria from its status to a more purposeful Nation gradually becomes an unobtainable possibility. With all these, one will raise a quizzical brow as to when will the interest of youth be captured in a country that is bent on maintaining a vintage and orthodox methodology and system.

Linda Chiahaoke is a Youth Corp Member serving at YIAGA AFRICA



Gabriel Gutap WTV Zonal Program Officer

Plateau State LGA Election : A template for Nigeria’s Fragile Democracy – Gabriel Gutap

There is a strong belief that democracy is for the good of the masses and is popularly defined as a ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’. However, the gross misconduct, manipulations and undemocratic nature of some politicians and their political parties often gives an impression that the will of the people doesn’t matter when pitted against the personal interest of the politicians. This causes a loss of confidence in the system on the part of the citizens.

The recently concluded Plateau State Local Government election has become the latest template to describe a flawed electoral process as independent observers who keenly observed the process raised serious concerns about the credibility of the process. Right from the pre-election phase, observer group, called Plateau State Coalition on Electoral Reforms and Good Governance (PLASCER) complained about the poor engagement of stakeholders before the election, thereby limiting the information about the process in the public domain and ultimately resulting in poor voter information and education.

Report also has it that parties that contested in the Plateau State Local Government Elections Also, were passive in engaging the electoral process before the election. These factors set the stage for public distrust in the process from the onset and put the integrity of Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC)

Doubts in the process began to creep in when on the Election Day (10th October 2018), there was a notable delay in the arrival of PLASIEC polling agents and materials in some parts of Langtang North, Langtang South, Qua’anpan, Shendam, Pankshin and other LGAs. This was followed by reports of malpractices such as use of ballot papers which had already been thumb printed, ballot box snatching, multiple voting, incidences of fake result sheets, and cases of underage voting in most LGAs. One of the most disturbing occurrences was the absconding of Returning Officers (ROs) in some Local Governments, and in the case of Mikang Local Government, Election Officials (EOs) and Retuning Officer (RO) disappeared at some point during the collation of results. Similarly, in Bassa and Bokkos LGA’s, the Retuning Officers absconded before the final collation of results, but winners were announced at the PLASIEC State Headquarters and hurriedly sworn in by the Governor. In Lantang North and Mangu, results came in but were not collated at the Local Government level and the elections in those Local Governments were declared inconclusive for no justifiable reason.

The election process was largely marred by irregularities and gross misconduct that were showcased in the open. The electorate frowned at the process and protested en-masse. As tensions were raised, violence erupted in Mikang and Qua’anpan LGA’s where youth attempted to burn the PLASIEC offices. In Bassa LGA, Hon. Sarah Balis’s house was set a blazed (the woman who emerged as the winner of the election).

This farce of an election raises the question about the fate of democracy in Nigeria, where the will of the people is not respected, no legitimate government can emerge. This must be corrected before the 2019 General Election for the unity and progress of the country.


legality of INEC


On October 9th, 2018, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in an official communication, declared the All Progressives Congress (APC) ineligible to field candidates for all elective positions in Zamfara State in the 2019 general elections. This was on the basis of the party’s failure to meet the October 7 2018 deadline for conducting primaries to elect candidates for the 2019 General Elections as stipulated in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for 2019 General Elections released by INEC in January 2018.

As contained in the Timetable, political parties were mandated to conduct primaries to nominate candidates for various elective positions in the 2019  General Elections between August 18th and  October 7th 2018. By virtue of Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), political parties seeking to nominate candidates for any election must hold primaries (direct or indirect primaries) to nominate candidates. Even where there is only one aspirant in a political party for an elective position, a political party is still mandated by section 87(6) of the Electoral Act to convene a special convention or congress to ratify the aspirant’s
nomination. Consequently, complying with the deadline to hold primaries as stipulated in the Timetable is a mandatory step for every political party seeking to participate in the 2019 General election.

Download the Full detailed discussion paper the Constitutional Power of INEC and its legality to bar political parties from fielding candidates for elections

Legality of INEC Decision to Decline List of Party Candidates


WTV Party primary reports

WatchingTheVote Report on the Observation of Party Primaries for 2019 Elections

YIAGA AFRICA, is a civic non-governmental organization promoting democracy, governance and development in Africa through advocacy, research and capacity building. Our mission is to build democratic societies anchored on the principles of inclusion, justice, transparency and accountability. Our thematic areas of work include Elections; Legislative Engagement; Youth and Accountability & Justice. YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote is Nigeria’s largest citizens-led electoral integrity movement dedicated to the promotion of credible elections, civic participation and democratic accountability. YIAGA AFRICA has been involved in election observation since 2007 and it is one of the leading organizations working on elections in Nigeria.

Download Full Report of YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote Party Primaries Observation Below

Watching The Vote Report on Party Primaries for 2019 Elections 

Plangret Dabup, WTV Zonal Program Officer

 Plateau LGA Election As an Indication of Increasing Citizen Awareness – Plangret Dabup

By Plangret Dabup

The road to the 2019 General Elections in Nigeria has been a very interesting and rigorous one. Compared to 2015, there has been more awareness and citizen participation in all the electoral process. Information concerning the political primary elections has been circulated in the public and there has been massive response, both positive and negative.

According to Watching The Vote’s Statement on the conduct of political primaries the process was characterized by bold flaunting of electoral laws and party procedures in some of the political parties. There was also a lot of foul play and lack of uniformity in the nominations, thereby excluding women and young persons in the process. The statement by the organization couldn’t have come at a better time.  This is because while the Press Conference was going on, there was a brewing fracas in Plateau state over the conduct of the Local Government elections which held on the 10th of October, 2018.

One will recall that in the last month, there has been an onslaught of sectarian crisis in the state and hence, the state government had announced that elections would not be held in Jos North, Jos South, Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Governments. It is pertinent to state at this point that the Governor had dissolved the Local Government Councils in the 17 Local Governments in August 2015.

However, an observer group called Plateau State Coalition on Electoral Reforms and Good Governance (PLASCER) in its report made certain observations about the Election Day procedures highlighted a series of electoral malpractices, the most disturbing being those that occurred at the counting and accounting stage in some Local Governments. The Electoral Commissioners left for the state collation center without counting the votes that came in from the various wards. Subsequently, the elections in those Local Governments were declared inconclusive.  Furthermore, other Local Governments, the results came in from the wards but the polling officials were met with empty collation centers. Hence, the ballot papers, results sheets and other sensitive materials were left unattended to as there were no electoral staff present.

While the citizens were getting agitated over these developments, the Plateau State Electoral Commissioner Mr Fabian Ntung, announced the results for the election. The outcry that followed showed that the citizens are concerned about the electoral process and importantly credibility of the process.  As more citizens, particularly young people begin to position themselves in the political spaces in the country, there is a need to elevate the conversation beyond protests and violence.

First of all, young aspirants and party members should keep abreast with the amendments that are being made to the Electoral Act and the Constitution as it concerns elections in Nigeria. One landmark amendment that was recently made is the Presidential assent of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 Alteration (No 21) Act, 2017. This amendment expands the powers of election tribunals to hear pre-election matters, namely the non-adherence to the laws and guidelines by political parties and INEC in the conduct of party primaries and the non-adherence of INEC to the law on issues of rejecting aspirants.  This has opened up the gates of justice to aspirants who have been marginalized or unduly excluded from election processes at the preliminary stages.

Furthermore, there is a need for legislative engagement by the citizens to ensure that the laws regulating Local Government elections are improved to guarantee a freer and fairer process. The current laws give the State Independent Electoral Commissions the power to conduct Local Government elections independently (while INEC reserves the right to conduct Local Government elections in the FCT). However, in practice, these bodies do not operate independently which is a concern that has been raised with the structure of the Independent National Electoral Commission. Furthermore, the law is not all encompassing as per the election petitions arising from Local Government elections. This has led to undemocratic precedents in many of the states.

Similarly, the foremost Citizen movement on credible election data, YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote recommends the need for citizens to peruse conversations about what the aspirants are coming to offer. More so, citizens need to hold the other stakeholders in the election accountable regarding their roles in the pre-election phases. This includes trends of voter suppression, collusion between actors and other malpractices. Most notably is the conduct of the security officials during the Osun rerun election as well as the issues over the tearing of result sheets by an electoral official during the main election.

How can these wrongs be addressed before the General Election in 2019? Do our laws sufficiently provide consequences for such actions? These are some of the issues that should be dominating political and governance discuss, particularly in the grassroots where there is increased citizen awareness.


Plangret Dabup is a Zonal Program Officer with YIAGA Africa


YIAGA AFRICA Programs Manager Cynthia Mbamalu speaking during the Grand Finale of the Youth affirmative action debate

UniAbuja, University of Ibadan top YIAGA AFRICA’s University Youth Affirmative Action Debate

After a grueling intellectual contest at the Youth Affirmative Action Debate Competition Grand Finale, both University of Abuja and University of Ibadan could not be separated as both came joint winners of the debate. The grand Finale which was held in Abuja on Tuesday, 16th October saw Students of six Tertiary Institutions across all geopolitical zones in Abuja take up the stage to debate on issues relating to youth participation and good governance for national development.

The two universities emerged winners after beating strong competition from counterparts representing other geo-political zones.  The Six (6) tertiary institutions from the six 6 geopolitical zones in Nigeria emerge winners at the zonal level participated in the Grand Finale of the debate competition. The other schools who contested in the grand finale include, University of Maiduguri, University of Calabar, Kaduna State University and Michael Opara University of Agriculture, Umudike.

Youth Affirmative Action Debate

Speaking during the Grand Finale, YIAGA AFRICA’s Program Manager said the debate gives young people the opportunity to amplify their voices on their right to political participation and building positive political culture and attitude. According to Cynthia, ensuring youth participation goes beyond just talking to acting to actually to get young people in government.

“We look at how we can engage young people because we have been accused of being unserious; of lacking focus and wanting to be handed leadership on a platter of gold. “So, to change this stereotype, our attitude has to change; we have to ask ourselves how do we start engaging the process? We have a lot at stake.”

Mbamalu said that the group decided to take a decision on what youths could do for national development ahead of 2019 so that young people could be well represented in public offices.

YIAGA AFRICA Programs Manager Cynthia Mbamalu speaking during the Grand Finale of the Youth affirmative action debate

She said that young people needed to set an agenda for the government through informed knowledge of all the country and all sectors, adding that it was the essence of the debate.

YIAGA AFRICA Board member, Ezenwa Nwagwu expressed his excitement that YIAGA AFRICA is creating a forum where young people who can be positive with issues, especially as the nation move toward a more difficult and trying period democracy.

He who said the debate is an opportunity for youths to lend their voices to democracy because military rule can give us schools, roads and even free education but there is only one thing it can’t give us, that is freedom.

The Youth Affirmative Action Debate Competition is an activity under the Promoting Inclusive Governance for Development project of YIAGA AFRICA implemented with support from the Ford Foundation.

The debate competition is designed to stimulate public discourse on youth affirmative action and gives young people the opportunity to amplify their voices on the right of young people to political participation and building positive political culture and attitude.

Similarly, Mr Ibrahim Farouk, the Senior Programmes Officer, YIAGA AFRICA said that the youth affirmative action debate was initiated to empower youths in the knowledge of politics and also create an avenue to air their opinions on the matter.

Farouk said that the debates elevated the discourse within the university communities, especially as political parties selected candidates for the 2019 general elections.

He said that with these debate competitions, young men and women showed that debates remained as a viable platform for discourse on policy issues and provide an avenue to promote inclusiveness and garner the opinion of the young students.

He said that the debate was an activity under the Promoting Inclusive Governance for Development project of YIAGA AFRICA implemented with support from Ford Foundation.