By Chioma Gabriel
Theodore Ogbonna is the founder/Executive Director of Youth for Transparency, International, formerly, African Youth For
Transparency. His experience transcends the oil/gas, communication, environment, human rights activism, marketing, arts and craft, finally the social entrepreneurial activities/youth work. Ogbonna has been a key executive volunteer on some local and international youth groups and networks, collaborated /consulted with local and international development agencies like The British Council, World Bank, Goethe Institut, among others. Youth For Transparency International (YTI) is a non- profit, non- governmental organization which envisions a world where young people are integrated in decision making at all levels of development and policy making as change makers; enabling quicker response and effectiveness to social challenges.
On December 4, the YTI in conjunction with the United States Consulate in Lagos is holding the 5th Global Youth Conference on democracy & political participation. The founder of the organisation Theodore Ogbonna answers questions in this encounter.
TELL us about the 5th Democracy and political participation conference?
Youth for transparency Transparency is interested in the evolution of a credible electoral process in Nigeria with the youths as active participants.
The democratic process in Nigeria has suffered a lot of reverses due to the inability of the ruling class to organize free, fair and transparent elections plus lack of respect and enforcement of the Law. A look at the findings of electoral monitoring report by African Youth For Transparency, published in a national daily on, September 26, 2002, revealed the dubious devices that disenfranchise the electorate and that the electoral exercise leaves a lot to be desired.
Ninety percent of the youths hardly come to appreciate that, as citizens, they can infact help decide a common destiny to the desired change of good governance by participating in the electoral process and casting their votes at elections. Also the disillusionment of the recent past naturally makes the older generation, 60% of them wonder, if it is worth the trouble to participate in the electoral process characterized by intimidation, violence, fraud, corrupt practices etc.
Why pick on democracy and politics which youths play little role on?
We have sustained this theme in the past as one of the ways to advocate and raise awareness of the need for Nigerian youths to participate in the electoral process as the future belongs to them. If we believe , we can change Nigeria by performing our citizenship rights/duty. In that way we are protecting and deciding on the change we want.
What should be done about having the same old faces occupying elective positions in Nigeria?
The young people will effect change by coming together to vote out those who should not have been elected . Power belongs to people when we all participate and vote transparently, that is why we are committed to transparency. The youths are against rigging of elections and manipulation of results of the election and that is why we want to effect correction by being more participatory.
Why the partnership with United States consulate in Lagos for this conference?
The United States is our model of democracy and citizenship participation. The youths have changed the political landscape in US history first time in 2008 when Barrack Obama became president of the US. We have modelled our democracy after United states and we are still learning from them and copying from them because they have developed beyond us.
Knowledge is power and that is what this is all about.
What do you intend to achieve at the end of the day?
The overall goal is to raise awareness of impact of electoral apathy and resignation by the the youths and women of this great Country and further organize a capacity building training workshop for young electoral monitors in the six geo-political regions of Nigeria