A youth group, Youngsters Development Initiative, on Tuesday said there was the need to prepare the youth for the future through constant engagement in electoral processes and governance.
Mr Kingsley Bangwell, Executive Director, Youngsters Foundation, said this at the closing of a 10-day Leadership and Democracy Training programme — CANVASSITY Pan African Youth Democracy Fellowship 2018 — in Lagos.
The programme was organised by the foundation in collaboration with the National Endowment for Democracy, Washington DC,USA.
Bangwell said that youth engagement could avail governments the opportunity to develop robust policy for the future.
”The youth are the largest of the continent’s population, but they are generally excluded from decision-making and governance processes. This needs to change.
”Many youth in Africa who can become powerful agents of change and active citizens do not even have the knowledge about governance or the skills to engage the government.
”We cannot continue to sit back and complain, we need to get involved and support elected representatives right from our local communities.
”We are the next leaders and we cannot learn to take up leadership positions when we do not get involved in electoral processes and governance. It requires our ownership, involvement and participation, ” he said.
Bangwell said the programme was organised to empower youth with knowledge, skills and mentoring needed to engage and support elected representatives and government institutions to improve governance, raise accountability and enhance citizen-government collaboration throughout Africa.
” One of the key ways to support young people’s participation in governance processes is by increasing their capabilities and political empowerment, ” he said.
Some delegates who spoke with newsmen promised to go back to their countries to carry out their civic responsibilities and contribute to development.
Miss Lorretta Makumbe, from Zimbabwe, said she had learnt how to organise and launch campaigns that would help educate the youth and reduce the high rate of youth involvement in electoral violence in Zimbabwe.
Another delegate, Mr Moloud Chahid from Morroco, told newsmen that he had been empowered to organise programmes that would encourage youth in Morroco to become entrepreneurs, secure financial stability and contribute to the development of the country’s economy.
On his part, Mr Ayomikun Olugbode, a Nigerian, said many youth in tertiary institutions do participate in electoral process and he would be launching campaigns on voter education in tertiary institutions to get them involved.
Mr James Cleto, from Uganda, said he would be finding solution to the lack of youth involvement in budget planning and processes in Uganda, to ensure transparency and accountability in public service delivery.
The programme drew participants from 17 African countries.