24 Apr

Youths are asset, not problem ― UN envoy

The United Nations, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ms Jayathma Wickramanayake, has stated that young people are an asset rather than being a problem.

She stated this while presenting the report on the findings of the independent progress study on “Youth, Peace and Security” to the Security Council.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria had while delivering a keynote address at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London last week disclosed that many Nigerian youths want everything free without doing anything.

Wickramanayake stated that report pointed to two key issues that needed immediate attention.
She said the first was the growing mistrust from young generations towards formal political institutions, while the other issue is the exclusion of young people from political, civic and economic life.

The study also showed that only a small minority of youth ever engaged in violence while many were actively engaging in their own local initiatives to bring peace to their communities.

According to the Envoy, “I believe we can all agree that my generation represents promise – not peril.

“We should be seen as an asset, not a problem,’’ she told Council members.
The envoy said the report’s findings and recommendations were an opportunity for the Council to redress the mistrust between young people, their government and the multilateral system.

This, she said, could be achieved by opening up new paths for meaningful participation and contribution.

Wickramanayake said tapping the potential and creativity of young people was indispensable to prevent conflict and build peace.
She urged governments to create conditions that allow their meaningful participation in civic and political lives.

The envoy underlined three critical areas – supporting youth’s peace efforts; prioritising their political participation; and partnering with them.
“I will not ask you to let young people lead as they are already leading.
“But they need inclusive, safe spaces and enabling environments to succeed.
“Recognise their work, fund it, scale it up and protect it,” she said, and called for dispelling misconceptions surrounding youth, citing studies that illustrated only a small minority of young people ever engage in violence.

Yet, Wickramanayake added, they face suspicions and undue restrictions, including when it comes to travelling across borders.

The envoy added that many had difficulties in obtaining travel permits.

She also called on all concerned to fully engage young people in electoral processes, political party structures and not to consider them “too young to run” for public office.

Source: Dailypost

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20 Apr

YIAGA Africa Set to Partner EFCC on Anti-Corruption Fight

In a bid to intensify the fight against corruption across the federation, YIAGA Africa’s Accountability and Social Justice Team met with officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday 18th April 2018 about its Bounce Corruption Project, as both institutions are set to partner on the anti-graft war.

Elaborating on the essence of the Bounce Corruption Project, the Program Officer Mrs. Tracy Keshi informed the commission that the overall goal of the Bounce Corruption Project; supported by the MacArthur Foundation, is to promote zero tolerance for corruption and impunity through effective citizens’ oversight and mobilization for open and accountable governance. Further adding that, the project also aims to build resistance against corruption by exposing corrupt practices and demanding prosecution of indicted suspects. The Bounce Corruption Project will also mainstream young people in the fight against corruption in Nigeria. At the center of this project is the promotion of collaboration and networking with different stakeholders involved in the campaign against corruption and impunity in Nigeria she rounded up saying.


Mrs. Keshi noted that it is important for citizens especially in rural areas and educational institutions to be well informed about the work the anti-corruption agency is doing on the anti-corruption campaign and how they can also be actively involved in the anti-corruption war. She assured the commission that YIAGA Africa via its Bounce Corruption project is willing to partner with them on this regard. She also notified the commission that YIAGA Africa through its Bounce Corruption project had just concluded a nationwide public integrity debate competition for students of selected tertiary institutions across the six (6) geo-political zones of the country.

The debate competition provided a platform for harnessing youth views into the anti-corruption crusade as it gave the students the opportunity to analyze the effectiveness & ineffectiveness of the current administration’s anti-corruption strategy. The debate also provided a platform for propagating the values of integrity, transparency and accountability via the establishment of public integrity clubs in those institutions, she informed the commission.

During the meeting which held at the EFCC headquarters Abuja, EFCC head of Enlightenment and Reorientation, Mr Samin Amaddin appreciated the activities of YIAGA Africa in strides recorded in the anti-corruption campaign across the nation through the Bounce Corruption Project. He further stated that the commission can collaborate especially in establishing integrity clubs in schools, which is one of the major objectives of the project as it is a semblance of what the commission are also doing in various institutions across the country.

According to Mr Amaddin, the EFCC mandate focuses more on preventing corruption. This informed the establishment of integrity clubs to ensure zero tolerance to corruption. He stated that, the EFCC has integrity clubs in tertiary institutions such as the Ahmadu Bello University and Bayero University Kano, thus the impending collaboration with YIAGA Africa via its Bounce Corruption project is timely to improve anti-corruption activities in a bid to reduce corruption in Nigeria. He noted that the commission is doing a lot of work in youth engagement, as against what is mostly heard in public. Considering the challenge of limitations in funding for the commission in carrying out all these activities, he welcomed the partnership with YIAGA Africa as it resolves to work with the commission in the anti-corruption campaign.

Also speaking at the meeting is the EFCC School Desk Officer in charge of public integrity clubs in schools; Mrs. Zainab Bello. She revealed that the commission ensures it creates integrity clubs in every school it engages which includes Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Institution. According to Mrs. Bello, EFCC also engages National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members whose Community Development Project has to do with Zero Tolerance to create integrity club in the school they serve.

As the Grand Finale of YIAGA Africa’s Bounce Corruption Public Integrity Debate is scheduled to hold in May, the commission has expressed its willingness to be part of the finals which will see winners of all zones square-up in the FCT for the knockout and final round of the Public Integrity Debate Competition.

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20 Apr


*Says preparation and competence, not age to run for public office, should matter more

*Many young people working in Presidency

*Young Nigerians should be allowed to run for elective positions in the country, especially as they have demonstrated capacity and competence in the fields of technology, education and other sectors of the economy, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.*

*Prof. Osinbajo said this when he received a courtesy visit from the Not-Too-Young-To-Run group today at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.*

The Vice President stated that the age of running for public office in Nigeria should not be a major issue for discourse as much as the competence of that individual.

He noted that while it was important for young people to be able to run for public office in the country, it was equally important for them to gain required skills set to be prepared for public service.

While commending young Nigerians for making great strides and playing leadership roles in many organisations and in different areas of the economy, Prof Osinbajo also commended the group for its incredible advocacy aimed at lowering the age of entry into elective positions in Nigeria.

“I must congratulate you for ensuring that you saw it (the push for the bill) to the point that it is now where all that is required is Presidential assent. If you’re old enough to vote, then you should be old enough to run for office,” he said.

He added that the Buhari administration remains committed to supporting young Nigerians in different areas, including in politics.

Prof. Osinbajo further said the leadership provided by young Nigerians was evident in areas like technology, among others, noting that “many organisations have been led by young people, so that’s not entirely new.”

The Vice President urged young Nigerians to thus develop their capacities and skills in different areas so as to contribute to issues of leadership, governance, national development and the economy.

“I think that whatever age a person chooses to run for office shouldn’t matter at all; that for me is a fundamental principle, it really doesn’t matter, even if you’re much younger or older in age, the more important issue, my worry always is so much the preparedness of young people, the preparedness of anyone, young or old.

“It is the same way that if you’re going to be a pilot or medical doctor, you need to get some training, by devoting your time and resources to a call. Even football requires skills.

“Practically in any field, you are required to show competence. And in our developing economy, there is need for us to set the bar much higher, not in terms of age, but in terms of competence. We need to set the bar because we are a developing economy, because we don’t have the time to waste on mediocrity.”

He further urged the group and young Nigerian to lend their voices to campaigns on issues related to anti-corruption and national development as they get required education and build their capacities for public service.

The Vice President said, “I have many young people working with me in this office in different departments, and all of them are highly competent. I also had the opportunity of serving in government when I was 30 years old, I was adviser to the then Attorney General of the Federation and I was teaching at the University then. When I became Attorney General about 12 years later in Lagos State, I was a trained Attorney General; So, I also had working knowledge. We need competence in the same way that we take on issues in our different professions.

“I visited tech hubs in Lagos during the week; incredible work is going on being done by young, people who have devoted their time and resources. So, I would say that if you’re interested in public service, that same kind of commitment can be devoted so when we are discussing very critical issues of economy, governance, we would be able to say this is the work plan. It is incredible what can be achieved but we need to have people who are articulating strong positions on issues.

In his remarks, the Executive Director, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) Africa, who led the delegation, Mr. Samson Itodo, thanked the Vice President for the opportunity and for being a strong advocate of young people in the country.

Itodo noted that Prof. Osinbajo has continued to demonstrate his belief in the potential and talents of young Nigerians in different areas of the economy.

“We are quite excited to see a significant number of young people working in the Office of the Vice President. Your Excellency, it shows to a great extent that there is commitment on your part to engage young people,” Itodo said.

In the same vein, a member of the delegation, Ms Bella Ndubuisi, said, “It is exciting to see many young people working with the Vice President’s office,” noting that this development shows the belief of the Buhari administration in the inclusion of young people in the process of governance.

The Not-Too-Young-To-Run campaign is based on a bill before the National Assembly that seeks to alter sections of the 1999 constitution to reduce the age limit for running for elected office in Nigeria.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity)
Office of the Vice President
19th April, 2018

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20 Apr

Not Too Young to Run Movement Meets Osinbajo, Press for Assent to Age Reduction Bill

Not less than 30 members of the Not Too Young To Run movement met with the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Thursday to further press for Presidential assent on the Age Reduction bill. The movement led by the Convener; Samson Itodo and other members of the movement such as Cynthia Mbamalu, Bella Ann Ndubisi, Hamza Lawal as well as the sponsor of the bill at the House of Representatives; Honourable Tony Nwulu alongside members of various youth organizations minced no words in its mission, as it urged the Presidency to write its name in gold by assenting to the Age Reduction Bill.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo addressing the Not Too Young To Run movement

The Movement reiterated that the Not Too Young To Run movement is one of the most successful youth led campaigns the country has witnessed, as it has seen young Nigerians reactivate their citizenship in order to contribute their quota to the development of Nigeria. The movement is more than just age reduction in running for elective office, but also about inclusion which promotes democracy, reiterating that democracy loses its vitality if you take the concept of inclusion out of it.

Not Too Young To Run is aimed at fostering intergenerational dialogue in a bid to interface between the young and old generation on statecraft. This according to him will increase competitiveness in the political process of the country. The movement from Nigeria has inspired global campaigns for age reduction in running for political office.

Not Too Young To Run Convener, Samson Itodo exchange pleasantries with VP Osinbajo

In his response, the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo congratulated members of the movement and indeed Nigerian youths for a sustained advocacy which he described as very important saying, “there is no doubting the fact that If you are old enough to vote, then you should be old enough to run”.

He further emphasized the need for young people to be competent in their various fields of endeavor especially in politics saying, Nigeria is a developing nation where it cannot afford incompetent people in power.  According to the Vice President, serving in government from a younger age gives the necessary insight on how government works.

According to him, young people in Nigeria have no doubt showed high knowledge, skills and capacity in all spheres of their professional life including Information Technology, Engineering etc. This has always been the case he said.  He further added that, it is a no brainer that age should not be a barrier in determining when to run for political office, saying “I have over 100 young people who work with me in the Presidency”.

While decrying the caliber of people that contest and win elections in Nigeria, Prof. Osinbajo emphasized the need to raise the bar high to ensure more competent people emerge as candidates in political office. He also urged the movement to advance its advocacy towards addressing the major ills of the country which includes massive corruption with impunity.

Not Too Young To Run flanking the VP during an advocacy visit

Also speaking at the engagement, Sponsor of the Age Reduction Bill in the House of Representatives; Honourable Tony Nwulu thanked the Vice President for his warm reception while also assuring that young people have demonstrated the capacity to run for office as he urged the President assent to the bill. According to Honourable Nwulu, the advocacy goes beyond round table discussion to joining political parties and contesting elections saying young people will roll their sleeves in a bid to make a difference.




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20 Apr

Not Too Young To Run: Preparation, competence more important than age – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the age of running for public office in Nigeria should not be a major issue in election to public office as much as competence and preparation of the individual.

Mr Osinbajo stated this on Thursday in Abuja when the ‘Not Too Young To Run movement’ paid a courtesy visit to State House to press for presidential assent to the age reduction bill.

According to the vice president, it is not the age of political office holders that matters but their capacity to provide quality leadership for the country.

Mr Osinbajo, however, said young Nigerians should be allowed to run for elective public positions as they have demonstrated capacity and competence in technology, education and other sectors of the economy.

He said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration remained committed to supporting young Nigerians in different areas, including politics.

The vice president urged young Nigerians to develop their capacities and skills in different areas so as to contribute to leadership, governance, national development and the economy.

“I think that whatever age a person chooses to run for office shouldn’t matter at all; that for me is a fundamental principle, it really doesn’t matter, even if you’re much younger or older in age, the more important issue, my worry always is so much the preparedness of young people, the preparedness of anyone, young or old.

“Practically in any field, you are required to show competence. And in our developing economy, there is need for us to set the bar much higher, not in terms of age, but in terms of competence. We need to set the bar because we are a developing economy, because we don’t have the time to waste on mediocrity.”

Mr Osinbajo further urged the group and young Nigerians to lend voice to the administration’s campaign against corruption and for national development, saying they have the required education and capacities for public service.

He lamented that Nigeria is the only country where public resource is taken with impunity, saying corruption shakes the economy of the country and must be tackled.

The convener of the movement, Samson Itodo, said presidential assent to the Not Too Young to Run Bill will give young people opportunity to contribute their quota to the development of the country.

Mr Itodo said democracy loses its vitality if the word “inclusion” is taken out of it, noting that inter-generational dialogue and values are key to the process of democracy

“We are not clamouring for the elders to leave the political sphere for young people. There is need to enhance the political process. Nigeria has inspired a global campaign across the world for youth participation in politics. These youth have the capacity, integrity and competence to hold offices which is why they should be included in the political process,” he said.

Meanwhile the sponsor of the bill, Tony Nwulu, representing Oshodi Isolo federal constituency at the House of Representatives, said beyond passing the bill, aspirants must belong to a political process and start a political process.

“Power is not given, it is taken. The vice president got to his position through the vote of the youth who voted for him and believe him,” he said.

“Are young people ready? Young people are leading in agencies across the nation, we are bridging the education gap through technology, if young people are leading in agencies, why should we say they are not ready for political process,” Bella Ndubuisi, a member of the movement said.

VP with members of the delegates of the ‘Not Too Young To Run’
According to her, a lot of young people have expressed intention for running in the 2019 elections. She askthe president to assent to the bill to enhance their chances.

The National Assembly recently transmitted the Age Reduction Bill and 11 others to President Buhari for assent.

This was sequel to a motion titled, “Passage of Constitution (fourth) Alteration Bills, 2018”, sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwerwmadu, and 49 other senators.

Source: Premium Times

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20 Apr

Brace up for political leadership, Osinbajo tells youths

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday challenged youths in the country to brace up for political leadership of the country in the years ahead. Osinbajo gave the charge when he received a delegation of Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement which visited him in Abuja.

He said that youths needed to be ready for political offices they intended to occupy, pointing out that leadership positions were not automatic. “It is true that young people are participating in every sphere of the economy and they are doing well, but they ended up there through one process of training or the other. “Just like you have to train before you can become a pilot, so it is for politics. “I think that whatever age a person chooses to run should not matter; what should matter is the preparedness of the person because elective positions require some skills. “Most times people train to acquire other skills but not politics; that’s the way of democracy.’’

Osinbajo said that there was need for youths to move up the ladder of leadership to prepare themselves for politics. He recalled that he served as a special adviser at the age of 30 and had been involved in pressure group actives before he became an Attorney-General and then, Vice President. He said that it was important for youths to have that kind of experience, adding that Nigeria did not need people who will just muzzle their way into positions. The vice president said that issues of governance needed to be planned deliberately as making women to participate in politics and issues of girl-child needed to be taken seriously and addressed.

According to him, this is because half of the women that should be participating in politics did not have the know-how. He added that there was also supposed to be plans for education to make the young people stand and grow politically. Osinbajo decried the fact that democracy and elective offices in Nigeria were based on people that had the resources “so corrupt people kept coming into office because they have the resources’’. “These are the kind of people we have in elective offices; so, we need to raise the bar so as to get performance and competence.’’ he said. He urged youths to challenge themselves with the big issues bedevilling the nation, and said that one critical issue to address was corruption.

The vice president said that people stole the nation’s money with impunity and short-changed citizens. “Our budget is N7 trillion and if someone steals N1trillion, how do we quantify it? If we don’t have serious advocacy around corruption, we are always going to be short-changed in the nation.’’ He said that in a developing economy like Nigeria, there was need to set the bar about competence and that the onus lay with the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement. He urged the youths to join political parties, be involved in politics and pressure groups so that the nation could achieve development through youth’s collaboration.

Osinbajo said “that way, youths will be able to carry the cause and address the bigger issues that affect the country’’. Earlier, leader of the delegation, Mr Samson Itodo, said that the campaign for the youths was a movement led by young people that would like to contribute to national development. Itodo, who is one of the conveners of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement, said that one of the reasons for the movement was inclusion of youths in governance, because democracy lost its vitality without inclusion. He said that there was also need for inter-generational dialogue between the youths and the elders to create a platform where young people could interface with elders.

Itodo called for enhancement of quality of the electoral process so as to increase competition among all strata. “Today we have been able to inspire some young people to run for elective positions; over the world, there is a clamour for young rulers. “What we do is not to clamour for elders to leave but that we have faith in our democracy and it has to be inclusive because youths have the capacity, competence and integrity to hold offices,’’ he said. He called for an open political system that would accommodate young people, adding that it was a good thing that the National Assembly passed the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill. Itodo appealed to the vice president to support the bill and expressed optimism that President Mohammadu Buhari would ascent to the bill when transmitted to him. He urged youths to join political parties and be ready for the political process leading to 2019, stressing that “political power is not given, but taken’’.

Source: Vanguard

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18 Apr

Senate transmits ‘Not Too Young To Run Bill’, 11 others to Buhari for assent

The Senate on Tuesday resolved to transmit the Age Reduction Bill (Not Too Young to Run Bill) and 11 others, to President Muhammadu Buhari,for assent.

The resolution was sequel to a motion titled, “Passage of Constitution (fourth) alteration bills, 2018”, sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwerwmadu and 49 other senators.

The bills to be transmitted by the Senate include: Authorisation of Expenditure in absence of Appropriation Bill, Financial Autonomy of State Legislatures Bill, the Legislature Bill, Political Parties and Electoral Matters Bill, the Nigeria Police Force Bill and Restriction of Tenure of President and Governor Bill.

Others are: Submission from the Judiciary Bill, Determination of Pre-Election Matters Bill, Consequential Amendment on Civil Defence Bill, Procedure for Overriding Presidential Veto in Constitutional Alteration, and Timeline for the Presentation of Appropriation Bill.

The Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, who moved the motion, recalled that while the Senate approved 29 of the bills with the required two-third majority of members, the House of Representatives approved 21 of the bills with not less that two-third majority.

He explained that 35 State Houses of Assembly have forwarded their resolution on most of the bills. The states are Abia, Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano and Katsina States.

Others are Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara States.

The Senate, thereafter, resolved that while awaiting the resolution of some of the State Houses of Assembly on some of the Bills, those that have met the requirements of the provisions of Section 9 of the Constitution and passed, the processed in line with the Acts Authentication Act be transmitted to Mr Buhari for his assent, ”to enable institutions of government prepare for immediate implementation of policies and programmes pursuant to the provisions”.

The Senate passed 12 of the 33 bills seeking to alter various provisions of the Constitution.

Source: Premium Times

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15 Apr

Technology and the challenge of election integrity – Samson Itodo

Despite declines in political and civil liberties on the continent, regular elections – an indispensable foundation of democracy – signal that democracy is gradually taking root in Africa. The frequency of elections on the continent presents an undeniable opportunity for citizens to assert their sovereignty and negotiate a new social contract with the ruling political elite. The outcome of recent elections in Liberia and Sierra Leone are an affirmation that though elections provide a mechanism for settling inter-elite rivalries, they embolden citizens to dislodge non-performing governments and send to retirement corrupt, autocratic and imprudent politicians from public office.

By all standards, elections are complex and capital intensive. Electoral operations, procurement, staff training and remuneration and public outreach gulp huge amounts of the election budget. For instance, Kenya expends $25 per voter (2017), Ghana $18 (2016), Liberia $15.3 (2017) and Nigeria $8.5 per voter in the 2015 elections. This high cost may have been influenced by the structural context within which these elections were conducted. The poor state of public infrastructure such as roads, institutions, energy, environment and ICT penetration contribute to high electoral costs. While this is a plausible argument, the high cost of elections is the consequence for undemocratic and flawed elections. Simply put, countries are spending more on elections due to low level of electoral integrity hence the reliance on technology to eliminate all forms of electoral heist and irregularity. This was affirmed in a recent study by the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commission (ECONEC) on the cost of elections in West Africa. The study revealed that the combination of political and legal culture that diminishes social capital and trust is driving up the integrity cost of elections, which accounts for the spiraling cost of elections. The study further revealed that the major cost of elections in Liberia and Nigeria is attributed to the high integrity cost of elections. This takes the form of election technological cost and election administrative cost. For the 2011 and 2015 elections, Nigeria spent a total of $1,232,160,809 and Liberia spent $74,127,558 for her 2005, 2011 and 2017 election. These costs exclude the cost of running the election management body.

It is common practice for election management bodies in Africa to leverage on technology for voter registration, voter identification or accreditation, electronic tallying and transmission of results. Kenya developed the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS) to amongst other things electronically transmit election results; South Africa operates the online candidate nomination system; Namibia deployed its costumed made Electronic Voting Machine for electronic voting in 2014 making her the first and only country in Africa that deployed the EVM for elections. Nigeria, Liberia, Zambia and a host of other countries operate the biometric voter registration system.

The indispensability of technology adoption for elections in African was demonstrated last week when Chairpersons, the Vice Chairperson and members of election management bodies from over 30 countries in West and Southern African converged in Abuja, Nigeria to share experiences on the opportunities and challenges with the use of technology for elections in Africa. Hosted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commission (ECONEC-RESAO), the international conference held in collaboration with the Electoral Commissions Forum of South Africa Development Countries (ECF/SADC), and with support of the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) and the European Union.

Can technology guarantee electoral integrity?

Different election stakeholders such as tech companies, civil society, politicians and development partners subject electoral commissions in Africa to intense pressure to deploy new technologies for elections. Most of them yield to these pressures without undertaking a cost benefit analysis on the deployment of electoral technologies or its potency to guarantee credible elections. In this era of automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence it is foolhardy to ignore adaptation of relevant technologies and digitize electoral processes.

Unarguably, technology deployed for elections can eliminate human errors associated with calculating and computing election results; it can improve voter identification, facilitate faster and easier voting etc. In Nigeria, the introduction of the Smart Card Readers and Permanent Voter Card has eliminated multiple voting thereby deepening the integrity of the electoral process. The Republic of Benin uses tablets to electronically transmit election results. Sierra Leone uses an electronic result tallying system to compute election results. These innovations have enhanced the quality of elections in those countries even though the courts are still besieged by a deluge of election petitions bordering on their credibility. It posits that technology cannot singlehandedly guarantee credible elections.

The debate on whether electoral technology can guarantee electoral integrity is premised on the limitations of technology deployment in Africa. Experience shows that technology (in this case electoral) is vulnerable to failure, interference, and security breaches. Recent reports of cyber propaganda, warfare and election interference strengthen the argument that electoral technology can potentially delegitimize elections. Without checks and oversight, heads of ICT departments in electoral commissions can become kingmakers by subverting the will of the people through a ‘click’ resulting to what Raila Odinga calls ‘computer-generated leaders’.

There is growing apprehension and suspicion with the deployment of electoral technology in Africa. Most people don’t trust electoral technology due to the limitations mentioned above. Sometimes these suspicions could be unfounded and mischievous. In Kenya, Raila Odinga alleged system logs on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) system suggesting a possible infiltration of the electoral commission’s electronic system of tallying of results.  Similarly, the then opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) was accusing of hacking into the system of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to alter election results hence the clamor for manual tallying of results by the All People’s Congress (APC) party. Speaking at roundtable on the 2018 Sierra Leone elections hosted by YIAGA AFRICA, Madam Miatta French, an electoral commissioner in the Sierra Leone electoral commission revealed that the decision to adopt manual identification of voters as opposed to electronic verification was informed by the technological challenges with biometric verification. The manual identification was more open and transparent as party agents could verify valid voters using copies of voter registers issued to them by the electoral commission.

Public trust and confidence is essential for the successful deployment of electoral technologies. Electoral commissions must secure public consent and approval in their quest to deploy technology for elections. This will boost citizens’ trust in the electoral process thereby deepening electoral integrity. Legal recognition must be granted to electoral technologies deployed by election management bodies else they become a subject of litigation in the law courts. The design, testing and timing of implementation of electoral technology is crucial. EMBs need to ensure technological innovations are deployed in good time to provide opportunity for simulation, testing, training and retraining of staff. Context also matters in every deployment; electoral technologies must be fit for purpose. It must respond to electoral challenges of a given context. Emphasis must be laid on the imperative of homegrown technological innovations as opposed to imported solutions whose ownership and sustainability is not guaranteed.

In conclusion, electoral technology can enhance and undermine electoral integrity, but electoral commissions must be conscious of its limitations and vulnerabilities. Electoral technology should complement existing traditional approaches rather seek to supplant existing methods. Technology is a means to an end and not an end in itself. Technological innovations can only enhance the quality of elections if they subscribe to the principles of simplicity, integrity accuracy, transparency, verifiability, security and cost-effectiveness.


Samson Itodo is an elections and constitution building enthusiast. He is the Executive Director of YIAGA Africa and Convener of the Not Too Young To run movement. Send comments and feedback to He tweets @DSamsonItodo


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15 Apr

Youth can be agents of positive change — Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN youth envoy

Jayathma Wickramanayake, 27, from Sri Lanka, is the new UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. Her role is to expand the UN’s youth engagement and advocacy efforts. She also serves as an adviser to the Secretary-General. Shortly after her extensive tour of the Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa in February, she sat down with Africa Renewal’s Zipporah Musau to discuss her mission. Excerpts:
Africa Renewal: You have just come back from a mission to five countries in Africa. How was it?

Jayathma: It definitely exceeded my expectation! I did not have much exposure to Africa before I took up this job, because my work was mainly in my home country [Sri Lanka], working with youth. So, I never really before now had the opportunity go to Africa and interact with young people, even though I have friends from the region.

Why did you choose Africa and how did it start?

UNFPA – the United Nations Population Fund, approached me with this wonderful proposal of a multi-country mission to Africa. Then a few days before I travelled, my office sent out a tweet announcing the trip and the response was amazing. Upon arrival to each country, the welcome, the level of energy, and the love extended to me was unbelievable. I may be Sri Lankan by birth, but part of me is definitely African by choice.

What were your impressions of the young people you met?

The amount of resilience the young people in the continent have surprised me. You might have seen pictures of us laughing and dancing together, but just before that, we were sitting under a tree talking about issues and challenges these youth face, even to the point of sometimes crying together. I met some who have gone through situations incomprehensible for us sitting here in New York.

What did they tell you were their main concerns?

Young people voiced concerns about lack of access to education, unemployment, migration, and young women’s sexual and reproductive health. These were the core issues discussed in all five countries I visited.

Can you expound a bit on these issues?

On education: the main concern is access to education, but not just any education, but quality education. There is a study that shows that about 30% of the skills acquired in 2015 will not be relevant by 2020. So, in such a rapidly changing world, what should we teach in our schools? Do we teach the usual subjects or do we focus more on skills-development? Young people require skills that are adaptable and can be useful in multiple professions and fields.

On digital divide: Unlike young people living in the urban areas, those in rural areas are left behind in terms of information and technology. There are also girls who do not even have a chance to get basic education, let alone technological education.

On issues affecting girls: Girls face various barriers as they seek education. Often it becomes an issue when they are on their menstrual cycles because they don’t have pads or their schools don’t have adequate sanitary facilities. Some girls’ education is often disrupted to take care of their younger siblings, while others are married off at a very young age or drop out due to teenage pregnancy. Female genital mutilation is another big issue.

On migration: Due to lack of opportunities for young people, many of them risk their lives crossing the Sahara and Mediterranean Sea to get to Italy or other countries to look for better opportunities. Many die in this process of trying to take this extreme path.

What is your office doing to help these young people in Africa?

In my position, I am tasked with bringing the UN closer to young people, and young people closer to the UN. As a representative of the Secretary General, I meet top government officials and other stakeholders and use such opportunities to raise awareness of the issues young people are facing and then urge the officials to address them.

What would you say you achieved during this trip?

The biggest outcome of my mission to Africa was being able to act as a bridge to bring the young people’s concerns to the attention of decisionmakers, urging them to make a difference in young people’s lives and holding them accountable. Having those one-on-one interactions with the young people I meet, some of whom have gone through really tough situations, enables me to bring their voices to the discussions here at the UN. I talked to marginalized young people, as well as innovators, and social entrepreneurs, who inspired me to raise their issues in my meetings with government ministers, parliamentarians, UN Country Teams, and the media in every country I visited.

Any immediate results?

I saw some remarkable results! For instance, the UN Country Team in Nigeria will set up an advisory mechanism for youth to be consulted on its work on the ground.

What are the young people themselves doing to improve their lot?

The mission offered a great opportunity to highlight the amazing contributions these young people themselves are making to improve their communities. For example, in Nigeria I met this young woman – a survivor of rape – who has developed a mobile phone app that can help other young women to report gender-based violence to the nearest police station. This shows that young people are not just victims, they can also bring solutions to the table. And when talking to decision-makers, I was able to highlight this role of young people as agents of positive change, so that they can treat youth as assets, rather than liabilities.

How will you amplify this message?

One of the things I am trying to do is to bring some of these young change-makers to the UN Headquarters for the forthcoming High-Level Political Forum and UN General Assembly to showcase, not just the issues they face, but also the solutions that they bring to the table. I have also tried to amplify this through the UN country teams in various countries.

Do you have any special programmes or campaigns targeting young people in Africa?

Indeed, we do. In fact, one of our biggest campaign is “Not Too Young to Run,” started in Nigeria and aimed at lowering the legal age required to run for office from 40 to 35. We have now made it a global campaign that advocates for the rights of young people to run for elected office. We are working with the interparliamentary union, OHCHR, UNDP, and some other partners on scaling it up. During my trip I also called for youth affirmative action within political parties, urging the official to remove existing barriers to youth participation in decision-making.

What are your views on youth taking seeking positions, not just in politics but also in business and other spheres?

It’s been amazing! Some of the brightest young minds that I’ve met on this job are from Africa. I say that without any bias. I am very impressed by the work young Africans do, they are so creative. On this trip I met young innovators, for example, one of them has invented a three-wheeler which uses solar power, another one had developed an online platform to help candidates running for office to design and organize their political campaigns.

What challenges do young people pushing for space, a seat at the political table, face?

We have identified several layers of barriers that hinder young people from participation. The first layer is at the personal level – having no confidence or belief in themselves. The second layer is social – family and friends around a young person, who may sometimes discourage them from venturing into politics. And third is political party structures. Young people are under-represented in political parties. The same for the women too.

What’s your advice to young people who get into leadership?

When you get to a position of power, always remember why you are in that position in the first place. Thousands of young people look up to you. Also, don’t forget to create a space for other young people to come onboard.

What values should they live by?

They should live up to the values that we, as young people, have been demanding all along – integrity, transparency, saying no to corruption and standing up for democracy. This could mean sometimes doing things in unconventional ways, maybe changing systems completely upside down – we need transformational change.

Source: AfricaRenewal

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12 Apr

2019 Elections: Nigerian Youths and the Doubting Thomases – Sanusi Olaniyan

Professor Itse Sagay; Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC) granted an interview on why a youth cannot be President in Nigeria. Professor Sagay stated reasons why the average Nigerian youth is unfit to hold the highest political office in the country, labeling youth clamoring for such as being shallow minded.

Part of reasons given by Professor Sagay is that, the average Nigerian youth is consumed by a get rich quick mentality and does not recognize the importance of climbing up the success ladder gradually. As much as this piece is not aimed at joining issues with the erudite Professor, it is imperative to reject the notion that majority of Nigerian youth possess a get rich quick mentality. This generalization is where my concern lies.

A lot has been said about the leadership capability of the Nigerian youth. A large section of the society holds the belief that the average Nigerian youth is unfit to occupy leadership position, most especially a political office. Young people have been tagged to be irrational, impulsive and lacking in wisdom the requisite ability expected of a leader, this is untrue.

Nigeria has an abundance of youth who have proven to be astute leaders in their selected fields. Not peculiar to this generation only; history has repeatedly shown that if provided the space, Nigerian youths have what it takes to take over the mantle of leadership and effect change. Take the case of a young Yakubu Gowon or a young Anthony Enahoro who both in their early days effected change in the country having found themselves in positions to do so.

Perhaps, a much valid argument should be centered on the willingness of the Nigerian youth to vie for political office or even participate in the political process of the country. Disenchanted, the average Nigerian youth views the political process of the country as a reservation for the elderly and elite, not wanting to be a part of the process whatsoever. Not to be blamed though, the ruling class has turned the political space into a closed circuit, putting in place constraints that make it hard for youths to get involved, thereby, limiting active participation to members of their class only. This has led to calmour for youth inclusion through various platforms.

YIAGA Africa, a youth led organization at the forefront of the Age reduction campaign popularly referred to as the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill, has done well to champion the cause for participation of Nigerian youths in the electoral process. The Bill which seeks to reduce age requirements in vying for elective offices will pave the way for youths to participate in the electoral process not as campaign merchants this time around, but as candidates in elections themselves. Now the onus is on the youth to maximize this opportunity and make sure come 2019, our voices are heard in the political arena.

With the Age reduction Bill poised to become law soon as it awaits Presidential assent, there will certainly be an influx of youths running for political office in the forthcoming 2019 general elections no doubt. Be that as it may, it is more important for Nigerian youth to understand that active political participation entails more than just trying to run for elective office. It involves active participation in the process of choosing candidates itself, which of course is only possible by becoming an active member of a political party.

The mentality surrounding joining a political party among Nigerian youth must change if we are to maximize the opportunity the Age reduction Bill has presented in the forthcoming 2019 general elections. Our social contract with the government can only be upheld if we become a part of the political process and not leave it to a section of the society. A state thrives on inclusivity of all segments of the society.

As Professor Sagay rightly mentioned in his interview, no one is stopping the youth from taking power, they need to join the fray he said. Joining the fray in this case is participation at all levels of the political process, from party primaries through election proper.

Developed countries of the world, most notably Austria are leading the charge in placing the affairs of the country in the hands of the youth, with a 31-year old Prime Minister whose political history only commenced few years ago at the helm of affairs in the country. This are tendencies that should be emulated in this part of the world too.

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