The conversation around engagement of young people in Nigerian democracy seem to be an age long discussion with continuous clamor for participation of young people in the decision making process. In this vein, Yiaga Africa in partnership with Embassy of Sweden in Nigeria hosted a democracy E-Talks focusing on increased participation of young people in Nigerian democracy.
The webinar which was hosted via Facebook LIVE on Wednesday, saw chairman of Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF), Honourable Kabir Tukura share his experiences, challenges and prospects of young people in the cause of navigating through the Nigerian political terrain. According to Honourable Tukura, the YPF have screened a crop of young people to politically mentor and prepare for leadership. He said the current crop of young speakers of state assemblies are bringing in new energy, vibrancy and initiatives to legislative responsibilities. He also revealed that young parliamentarians and women in parliament are actively working to have additional seats for women and youths in National Assembly, saying more young people need to take advantage of the Not Too Young To Run Legislation. He said, “If you observe older politicians closely, you will notice that they entrust important responsibilities to younger people because they are more reliable and can deliver results”.
He advised that, to breakthrough and make a name in Nigerian political terrain; young people must make themselves relevant and a voice to reckon with. Sharing his experience, Honorable Tukura said his political journey especially campaign was financially supported by people who believed in him. He however decried that “money politics remains a major problem and thus needs to be de-emphasised to increase participation of young people while calling for internal party democracy strengthening to allow for valuable participation of youths, women and people with disability.
Also speaking during the Democracy E-talks, Bella Anne-Ndubuisi , a founding member of the Not Too Young To Run movement; that championed the cause for age reduction in political office reaffirmed the need for young people to work together to make huge impact. According to Bella, the way young people can make impact is to join political party, build a constituency out of the people and pick a party ticket to run for public office.
She urged young people to begin to engage in democracy as early as they become aware of their civic responsibilities saying “the moment you entrust a child with responsibilities, the child becomes aware of their leadership role; the best time to begin to groom leaders is when they are in elementary school”. Thus, she encourages young people with character, competence and capacity to bring innovations to Nigeria’s political space calling them to leverage on the networks of their mentors.
Bella also call on young people who are currently in public office to set good precedence and open doors for more young people urging young prospective leaders to learn to use data as a tool to carve a niche for themselves.
In his own remark, Ambassador of Sweden to Nigeria, His Excellency Carl-Michael Gräns lauded the energy and innovation that Nigerian youths have brought to other sectors could also shape democracy and development in the country. He said “young people represent one of Nigeria’s most promising assets”.
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