Elenwo’s Pen, will be centered on bringing before us the present realities of things within our socio-political system, in a view of where we started and what went wrong, it will be revealing, expository and above all accommodating in a bid to profer solutions to the dilemma we found ourselves. My recommendations will be explicit and practicable.
The present reality in our political systems is a clear drift from what a sane mind will consider in all honesty to be fair and just. The youths are plunged into an abysmal wilderness with what appears to be a calculated plan.
Participation in electoral processes involves much more than just voting. Political participation derives from the freedom to speak out, assemble and associate; the ability to take part in the conduct of public affairs; and the opportunity to register as a candidate, to campaign, to be elected and to hold office at all levels of government. Under international standards, men and women have an equal right to participate fully in all aspects of the political process.
Politics is typically regarded as a space for politically experienced men, young people are systematically marginalized because of their young age, limited opportunities, and projected lack of experience, while the present reality potend that young people often play central and catalyzing roles in movements for democracy around the world, but they are less engaged than older generations in voting and party activism.
Recognizing the potential of youths, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) developed its first-ever Youth Strategy (2014–2017), called “Empowered Youth, Sustainable Future”, in line with the UN System-Wide Action Plan on Youth (2013) which calls on young generations to become more involved and more committed in development processes.
2013 also saw the publication of the “Enhancing Youth Political Participation throughout the Electoral Cycle: A Good Practice Guide“, UNDP’s first review of programming strategies for youth political participation beyond the ballot box.
In 2016, to further boost the implementation of UNDP’s Youth Strategy and respond to both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security, UNDP launched a Youth Global Programme for Sustainable Development and Peace – Youth-GPS (2016–2020). The Youth-GPS focuses on civic engagement and political participation, among other areas, and responds to the concerns young people have expressed in global, regional and national forums and the growing demand at all levels for cutting-edge and strategic support in youth programming in all development contexts.
The International Rebirth Ambassadors Initiative — I-RAIN in its report on youths in Nigeria, has recommended that Nigeria youths are the most marginalized in leadership across the African Continent.
A simple question that demands an urgent answer. Who will answer the questions, is another question that also demands another urgent answer.
Let me take you through memory lanes. Here in Nigeria we all witnessed what seem to be a REVOLUTION. Corruption and Bad Leadership took the center stage of Nigeria, Kidnapping, Rituals, Armed Robbery in the South, Killings, Maiming, Bombing in the North. It became a concern to every Nigerian and the need for a swift shift to a greener Nigeria became inevitable. On the social media and in all public fora across the nation there was strong calls for change of government at the center. All these happened from the third quarter of 2013 which by 2014 we saw merger of political parties that gave birth to the All Progressive Congress(APC) with their CHANGE mantras. Nigerians saw the APC as the only hope for the survival of our great nation Nigeria. Eventually, the APC became the governing party and President Muhammadu Buhari as Commander in Chief of Arm Forces.
Take note, at the peak of the campaigns, Nigeria youths came out in their numbers to campaign and vote for the CHANGE party, we witnessed massive turnout of the youths who passionately came out to cast their ballots, making about 60% of the total vote cast for the 2015 general election. We also witnessed how the CHANGE government was formed without capturing the youths for leadership and appointments. The youths became the popular”WAILERS CLUB” on the social media and within their party formations.
2019 elections has been concluded with same youths reposing same trust to the NEXT LEVEL mantras, the Ministerial Nominees has been sent by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Nigerian Senate and they have also been screened and cleared by the Senate, yet the youths was not captured in the formations. Now that the youths has been carefully marginalized, *WHAT NEXT?* What are the plans to include youths in other formations of the Nigerian government?
“No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline; it is condemned to bleed to death” — Kofi Annan, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations
2023 is by the corner, haven failed the youths in 2015 and 2019 it is only wise that the present leaders begins to set the ball rolling for the youths to be comfortably and evidently captured. The International Rebirth Ambassadors Initiative ~I-RAIN has put in place recommendations, packages and programs on how youths within the party formations can be gainfully and progressively engaged for capacity building and productivity for 2023.
I will be sharing some of the recommendations compiled by the INTERNATIONAL REBIRTH AMBASSADORS INITIATIVE ~ I-RAIN and in my next article I will be dissecting them and making them practicable for all well meaning leader and political parties to make it a working document of progress.
Evidently, support for the political participation for the youths should extend across the electoral cycle. Capacity development for young candidates, for example, has proven to be more effective as a continuous effort than as a one-off event three months before an election. A core principle is that youth political participation needs to be meaningful and effective, going beyond token gestures where some leaders believes that when they give little money or buy gift for the his/her follower that such a youth is made comfortable. Capacity is an integral measure, and building individual capacities is key, the capacities of the youths and the degree to which an environment enables individuals and institutions to participate in political processes can also be factored in.
Following a rights-based approach entails considering youth as potential agents of change—as part of the solution, not a problem to be resolved by others.
“It has been found to be beneficial to the whole political structure when interventions to assist youths are as youth-driven as possible ~ Dr. Lawrence Chuku”.
The political party and her Leaders must as a matter of urgency adopt the following recommendations.
1. Encourage youths to participate in project management
2. Partner with youth-led initiatives, community development and volunteering Organizational
3. Facilitate youth inclusion in national and local consultation processes, including through new technology
4. Encourage continuous youth participation and civic education in schools and universities.
5. Design training programmes as incubators for new projects.
6. Provide flexible support with low access barriers to innovative, small-scale youth projects.
7. Use online platforms for knowledge sharing and networking among politically engaged youth and Bridge the digital divide with mobile phones and radio.
8. Encourage affirmative action measures such as youth and women quotas within political parties.
9. Support the development of strong political party youth wings.
9. Provide capacity-building for young members of political parties in a multi-partisan setting.
In conclusion, youths and young people are not a homogenous block and other social aspects (such as gender, rural/urban dwelling, ethnicity, language, among others) need to be taken into consideration when designing interventions. To stress a message of youth inclusion, initiatives should be transparent, respectful and accountable. To be relevant, they can link to specific concerns of youth such as unemployment, the environment or HIV and AIDS. While the youths will personally build upon the interventions from leaders and the party to provide his/her services to the party and her leaders, as a loyal and patriotic chieftain of his/her party.
Amb. Elenwo Roy Clinton
International Rebirth Ambassadors Initiative I-RAIN