By Cynthia Alo
A report by Yiaga Africa has named godfatherism and misinformation as the major factors militating against you participation in politics of Lagos state and Nigeria at large.
The report which was made in partnership with UKaid was tagged, “Youth And Political Participation In Lagos.”
Speaking at the launch in Lagos, one of the researchers, professor Surajudeen Mudasiru of the Department of Political Science, Lagos State University (LASU) who gave an overview of the report called on all stakeholders in the political space to explore the report for policy advocacy, planning and sound decision making, geared towards extricating the youth from the shackles of political enslavement.
He revealed that the respondents have good understanding of the issues in question adding that apart from the fact that the respondents have varied background information based on their local government of origin and Senatorial District, their opinions on the issues in the study varied with quality responses that exhibit their understanding of the various issues as displayed by the responses from the KIl FGD and the Survey Questionnaire administered to the respondents.
The document recommended that the Federal Government should establish at all levels more agencies for the political socialisation of the youths.
The study pointed out mass orientation agency like the National Orientation Agencies, NOA, has not impacted the citizens in ways that could enhance political awareness and inculcate civic responsibility in them.
According to the report, “Thus it is desirable to establish more agencies or structures dedicated to political socialisation. This is imperative for both federal and state governments in Nigeria. For the State government, it recommended a promotion at the level of State Houses of Assembly, the enactment of the ‘not- too-young- to-run law’ which needs to be replicated at the state level across the country.
The report stressed the need to reposition Nigeria’s education system to embrace critical consciousness and foreground civil responsibility as imperative for good governance, “and development was also recommended. This will help overcome the prevailing cynicism that education does not matter for political leadership in the country.
“There is need for the rejuvenation of the role of political parties as vehicle for political socialisation and elite recruitment. There’s also the need to boost the activities of Civil Society Orgnisations to deepen their role as alternative agencies for political socialisation. It is common knowledge that the CSOs have played a great deal of role in expanding the democratic space in Nigeria and elsewhere in the developing world. But they require funding to be able to function as ‘not-for-profit organisations in the exercise of instilling civic value in the society,”
On Affirmative Action, the document called for the need to create specific positions for youth in the hierarchy of public affairs to inspire them as successor generations. “The governments at federal and state levels have created ministries in charge of youth affairs.
“They can go beyond this to create positions that are dedicated to youth to facilitate their transition into the mainstream of governance in the country. More importantly, affirmation action should include freeing the youth from financial burden in the highly monetised electoral ecology – of Nigeria.
“Government should create jobs for the teeming youth. – Youth unemployment can alienate the youth from participating in politics, and also incline them towards the anti-social role. This is very true of Lagos State with a sizeable number of “area boys’ who are handmaidens of electoral violence. Youth empowerment through job creation can rescue them from playing a subordinate role to godfathers.
“The youths help themselves for others to help them. Youth are already self-motivated to create a structure to be relevant in the scheme of things in their communities. This can be encouraged by both government and CSOs. They should acquire social media and internet skills as a positive force to make them more useful to society.
“The government must respect and promote rule of law for order and stability in the political system. If abidance by the rule of law is promoted, it will certainly break the strongholds in the way of youth participation in politics. The counterproductive role of adultism and godfathers will be a thing of the past,” the document recommended.
Speaking on the report, the APC Youth leader, Lagos state, Seriki Muritala, charged the youth to follow people with a clean track records for mentorship and stop demanding mundane peanuts from politicians who meant no good to them.
Muritala encouraged them to be politically informed else politicians would treat them as blind ambitious youth. “The youth must get informed and follow people with credible reports,” he charged.
On his part, the Chairman, Partners for Electoral Reform and a board member of Yiaga Africa, Mr. Ezenwa Nwagwu, called for a regiging of Youth organizations like the National Youth Council and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).
Nwagwu tasked youths to make themselves relevant by taking responsibilities and making commitments to a course they believe in, instead of following some politicians aimlessly looking for leftovers, saying, “There are godfathers whose interest are for the betterment of the masses. Such godfathers are not selfish, and worth following.”
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