Yiaga Africa Hosts Campus Conversation on Youth Civic Engagement in Abuja

Yiaga Africa Hosts Campus Conversation on Youth Civic Engagement in Abuja

Yiaga Africa Hosts Campus Conversation on Youth Civic Engagement in Abuja

On 9th November, Yiaga Africa took its Campus Conversation series to University of Abuja Main Campus, Gwagwalada  to provide a platform for interactive learning, engagement and conversations with students of tertiary institutions and to educate the students on active participation throughout the electoral cycle. 

The conversation is aimed at intensifying engagement of students of tertiary institutions in order to amplify youth political participation in Nigeria.  This is in a bid to educate young Nigerians on citizenship and civic activism so that they can actively engage in participatory democracy.  

The conversation tagged ‘Youth Civic Engagement: The role of youth in decision-making and  the  prospects  of  increased  youth  political  participation’ featured talks on civic activism, active citizenship, national unity, human rights and political participation. 

Speaking during the event, Yiaga Africa’s Program Officer, Efemena Ozugha said from organizing diverse successful programs geared at increased youth participation, Yiaga Africa holds a position that political inclination is initiated at a teenage age and groomed to a fine refinement during young adulthood. 

She added that since the passage of the Age Reduction Law commonly referred to as the NotTooYoungToRun Law, youth political participation and civic engagement has been on a steady rise in Nigeria. 

Also speaking during the event, Obinna Osisiogu, Convener, We Vote, said the  Campus Conversation is indeed a necessary conversation where young students are able to share what they know and believe about Nigeria’s democratic process and the roles youths have to play in improving it.

He commended the openness that the students displayed in sharing their distrust in the political system of the country and recommended participation and more engagement from the youth as a solution to the problem. He explained that many young people continue to use previous stereotypes about election rigging as an excuse not to vote or run for office and asked that youths get themselves armed with the right information.

Another panelist at the event, Dr Ernest Ereke, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Abuja, expounded the advantages of young people running for office from now and young people voting for them.

He said “When young people support young people in the governance process, we are more assured that we have a chance to win and begin to effect the change we want to see”.

When queried by some students about how many young people are already being corrupted by the previous leaders especially in the areas of corruption, godfatherism, nepotism and other vices, Panelist Faith Ayegba, Project Coordinator YALI, noted that young people will find it easier to engage other young people if they are in governance.

“If you really hope to hold your leaders and representatives accountable, would it not be easier to engage them in questions when they are young like you than if they are so much older? If we want a better country and the continuity of our democracy, we must begin to ensure that we vote the right people into office and hold them accountable”, she explained.

Ndidi Okafor, Head, Voter Education and Publicity of Independent National Electoral Commission in the Federal Capital Territory reminded the students that it is not enough to sit behind their phone keypads and complain bitterly about the leadership of their country. She said it is more pertinent to go and get registered, collect their PVCs and vote during elections. She also reiterated that the process has become easier with the advent of the online registration portal and urged the young students to take advantage of the ease and register.

Students were further encouraged to understand their important roles in the upcoming electoral processes. While some students indicated their interest to eventually run for office and were encouraged to register in any accredited political party of their choice, others promised to register as voters and vote for the change they hope to see.

Furthermore, over 60 students pledged to make sure they take 10 of their friends each to register and to also vote in the coming elections. 

The Campus Conversation series which is supported by the National Endowment for Democracy has also taken place at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State.

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