As part of its efforts to improve the welfare of young people in Nigeria, Yiaga Africa hosted key stakeholders and youth groups to a policy dialogue and think-tank meeting on the National Youth Development Commission (Establishment) Bill 2021 which is currently before the House of Representatives.
The policy dialogue implemented by Yiaga Africa and Action Aid, and supported by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), is an activity under the Youth Organizing and Leadership (YOL) project.
The dialogue provided a platform for engagement between the members of the Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) of the National Assembly who sponsored the bill, and stakeholders drawn from the academia, government, and the civil society.
Speaking at the event, the Chairman of the Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF), Honourable Kabir Ibrahim Tukura urged all participants to make inputs to ensure that the Youth Development Commission Bill is a near-perfect document.
On his part, the Secretary of the YPF, Honourable Simon Elisha Karu explained the rationale behind the bill, saying it is intended to create spaces of influence for young people within democratic processes and also bring together youthful voices in Nigeria to influence policies and create the impact required.
He argued that although about 80% of democratic activities with regards to elections are conducted by young people, young people are not the principal actors when it comes to taking the lead position within governance.
“People have spoken about the role young people play in democracies around the world and also, the role young people play in democracy in Nigeria. A lot of times we feel they are insignificant,” he said.
He continued: “The Not To Young Too Run bill ushered in good representation in 2019; we want to see that this also creates a stronger platform for young people for now and beyond. We need the bill at this time. The current security situation in Nigeria can be solved when young people are properly empowered.”
In his analysis of the bill, Dr Samuel Oguche of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, provided insights into what should be removed and added in the document. This was in order to make the bill more robust, provide more clarity on the clauses contained and avoid future conflict with existing legislation.
There was also an extensive discussion and question-and-answer session by the participants on the bill, allowing them to make their inputs into the bill, provide their thoughts on how the bill will impact youth development in Nigeria and gain clarity on grey areas.
Organisations represented at the event include Connected Development, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Action Aid, Lead Generation Initiative, Mind The Gap, Activista, Nigerian Students Accountability Network, Nigeria Youth Parliament among others.
The National Youth Development Commission (Establishment) Bill was first introduced to the House of Representatives in 2015, but was not passed before the tenure of the 8th National Assembly elapsed. It was then reintroduced in 2021 and has currently scaled second reading.