As Nigeria advances to further consolidate democracy cultures with the general elections in 2015, the role of the youth in changing the fortunes of Nigeria was the focus of discussion at a youth symposium organized by Activista Nigeria, a youth platform of ActionAid Nigeria. The symposium titled #InspireLagos with the theme “Promoting Youth Participation in
Participants and speakers at the symposium.
As Nigeria advances to further consolidate democracy cultures with the general elections in 2015, the role of the youth in changing the fortunes of Nigeria was the focus of discussion at a youth symposium organized by Activista Nigeria, a youth platform of ActionAid Nigeria. The symposium titled #InspireLagos with the theme “Promoting Youth Participation in Governance and Election” had in attendance youth and student leaders from various institutions and communities.
Participants noted that for there to be a desired change in the governance and political system in the country, the youth, with a corrupt free mindset should henceforth be involved in the process of election by vying for political post, participate in voting and influencing political leader to take decision that will be of benefit to every Nigerian.
Mr. Hassan Soweto, National Coordinator, Education Rights Campaign, speaking at the event noted that the participation of youths in the electoral process is very important, because youths offer the alternative for the development of the country as change agents. He therefore urged youths to play active role in the electoral process as the youths have the capacity to engender sustainable development of the country.
“Youths are the leaders of tomorrow and catalyst of change; therefore there is a need for youth involvement in the political system”, he said.
He however noted that there are three basic things that must be understood before youths can play the desired role of change agents:
“The youth will only be able to play a meaningful role in the task of changing Nigeria if they embrace a democratic socialist ideology that seeks to ensure that Nigeria’s wealth is utilized for the need of all instead of the greed of a few.
“The youth can change Nigeria by allying with the working class and poor masses. This is very important because there are some who believe that all we need to change society is for the youths to get to power.
“We must organize. All youth who deem it necessary to take part in the process of liberating Nigeria needs to join an ideological and campaigning organization in order to begin to work with others of like minds towards the collective goal. Standing alone only weakens us” he said.
On the need for youths to be more involved in the electoral process, a youth activist, Ms. Ojelabi Abigail, Chairperson, Harbidel Foundation, said: “we can no longer fold our hands and allow charlatans and corrupt individuals to continue to rule, the time to act is now. If it to be, it is to be, it is up to me, it is up to you, it is up to us all.” She said, urging fellow youths to the challenge of leadership.
“Youths should be involved in the governance at the local level, state level and at the federal level. You are enjoined to always be prepared to raise the ante of electoral context by your radical intervention in politics and policy”, she enthused, adding that youths must take center stage in voters’ education, by mobilizing and organizing themselves into formidable groups in their local community, schools, and work places to make conscious intervention in election affairs and set the tone of debate.
The symposium also generated comments from participants on related issues of youth and democratic development.
Jibrin Adamu Osaro, who is serving as NYSC in Kaduna State, noted: “the role of Nigerian youths in 2015 will be to canvass for the election of credible candidates who will turn around the fortunes of our institutions.
Abimbola Fatoyinbo, a young graduate of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye said: “the youths in their prime are full of energy, ideas, inspiration, drive, and agility, all these must be used positively to achieve good result. The youth of the present day Nigeria need reorientation and this symposium has helped in redirecting my path that the youth can change the story of this country.”
Mamud Idris who just graduated from Tai Solarin University of Education in Ijebu-Ode noted that the political story of the country will change for the better when the youth take up leadership role and 2015 elections should be the starting point.
Olaniyi Williams, President, Faculty of Education Students’ Association, Lagos State University, noted: “Youth are the most potent agent of change within every society; a stable and sustainable society cannot be achieved without the involvement of the youth”.