By Hamza Ibrahim Chinade.
After holding Content Charter for People Living with Disability (PWDs) and Communities Experience Sharing Workshops, the Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) which implements a Department for International Development (DIFD) supported project “Strengthening Civic Engagement with the Electoral Process SCEEP through ActionAid Nigeria, the organization convenes another engagement titled “Inter-Party Youths Dialogue” with a view to exploring youths participation in politics in Nigeria, their challenges as well as opportunities.
Stating the objectives of the programme, Malam Isah Garba maintained that the composition of the dialogue is mainly drawn in order to ensure fair play among the participants and deliberate important concerns around youths participation in politics in Nigeria and eventually set a pace for youths, women and people with special needs inclusion in politics as that will not only promote good governance but also end discrimination and marginalization of certain groups in the society.
In his presentation titled “CITAD/AAN Experience in 2015 General elections in Nigeria and Youths: Key Findings”, coordinator of SCEEP project, Malam Isyaku Garba treated many concepts and highlighted activities in the recent election, significance of such activities and how they can serve as case studies to salvaging the future of especially youths in Nigerian politics.
Also presenting on “Youths and Politics in Nigeria”, Kabiru Sa’idu Dakata emphasized on political participation, definition of youths by age, variation of youths definition in different countries, youths percentage in terms of voting, population of youths in federal and state cabinets, legislatures and constitutional provision for youths participation in Nigerian polity. Kabiru observed that reviews need to be made regarding age limit for contesting for electoral offices and the youths themselves ought to be responsible enough to accept what is right and reject what is not lawfully, he added that the ere of giving youths money to vote certain candidates or youths carrying weapons during campaigns must stop if they want to really reshape their status in the country.
In their separate goodwill messages, Director of Kano state Directorate for Youths Development, representative of Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Director, National Orientation Agency (NOA) all appealed to youths to be patriotic, committed and determined especially in politics saying that will help strengthen the polity in general. Some of the challenges noted at the dialogue included: lack of resources or financial constraints, god fatherism, lack of political mentorship from the past leaders or prominent society elites, constitutional restriction, cultural and parental restrictions, social stereotype, lack of adherence to party regulations, partiality of security agents during elections, poor leadership in political parties, neglect of youths in party affairs, lack of integrity and foresight by the youths, lack of leadership capacity and skills by the youths etc.
Recommendations were specifically made to INEC, political parties and the youths. Some of the recommendations to made to INEC were the need to review age limit law to allow more youths participation in election, allow and encourage independent candidates system, and scrap payment for expression of interest which the participants agreed stops youths candidates with little or no resources to run for political offices. Participants also recommended that political parties should eliminate delegate system and replace with option A4 i.e majority carry the votes, abolish god fatherism practice and let competency champion the cause nominating candidates and support and encourage women and people living with disability (PWDs) candidacy. On youths, the participants urged them and well meaning individuals to patriotically join politics and salvage their future, they also should identify political parties with real values and join them and the constitution needs to be amended to allow for more youths participation in politics
A communiqué was jointly issued by the participants at the end of the dialogue. The Inter-Party Youths Dialogue was attended by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Orientation Agency (NOA), Kano state Directorate of Youths Development, different political parties, civil society organizations (CSOs), students of tertiary institutions, SCEEP communities, people with special needs, women groups, the media etc.