…tasks them on achieving a new Nigeria
By Adeola Badru
Ahead of the 2023 general election, the Centre for Youth Initiative on Self Education (CEYISED), has charged Nigerian youths to play active roles that will determine the sustainability of the nation’s democracy.
The group, during its Southwest conference, supported by MacArthur Foundation, through funding from Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), added that now is the time for youths to act and determine who represents them as president and state governors in the forthcoming election.
While delivering his address, Mr. Ibraheem Raheem Kolawole, who led the research work on a review of youth’s participation in Nigeria’s elections (a case study of Oyo State), noted that Nigerian youths during the current democratic dispensation have the capacity to the the plug to determine the direction of governance, if they are organised.
He posited that the fast growth of youth population in the country meant that state policies will have impact on them and their future more than any other demography.
“The impact of the youth in governance has been minimal to say the least. In terms of participating in elections, the youths have been found wanting. While the number of youths registering to vote has been increasing since 1999, the actual number of youths voting has been reducing at every election,” he lamented.
Highlighting the factors influencing youth voter turnout which include, poor governance, logistics challenge of elections, insecurity, low political education, lack of youth agenda and political platforms, youth candidacy, among others, Mr. Kolawole recommended that there was the need for the youths to build strong political platforms which will serve as a pedestal to mobilise other youths for political engagement.
He said: “The youths should utilise their various youths platforms to organise and mobilise youths.”
“In order to build the current democratic experiment on sound foundation, there is the need to work towards improving the youth participation in elections, both as active voters and leaders.”
“The young people are the future leaders of the nation hence, they need to rise up to the task of playing very active roles in determining the outcome of the forth coming polls.”
“Our past leaders used tribal, religion and ethnic sentiments to manipulate and draw away our unity in the past, instead of using those factors and unity to bring us together.”
“These are some of the reasons youths need to come together to lend their voices in negotiating for our unity and stability in the 2023 elections”
“This means that without concerted efforts to ensure active political participation of young people, in the next one decade, we may be facing a period where democratic experiment is weakened and threatened by youth voters’ apathy towards election.”
The group said what informed the conference was the need to bring youths together irrespective of tribe, religion or ethnic differences for the liberation and integration of the nation and to pursue a common goal at a critical time like this.
Youths were, however, admonished to make use of the opportunity at their disposals to participate in the reshaping of country’s democracy and the election by using their strength to chart a new course for the country.
“As the 2023 election draws near, the youths must take active control and show that they are truly leaders of tomorrow by supporting aspirants that show passionate interest in young people and stability of the future.”
The group, then, urged youths to cooperate and be good ambassadors in the task of achieving a new Nigeria for all and sundry.