Mobilising Kaduna youth for positive political participation

Youth participants pose for a group picture shortly after the event
Youth participants pose for a group picture shortly after the event

As part of efforts to empower youth in Kaduna state to be able to positively participate in political processes, by being able to influence policies and hold their leaders accountable, the Organization for Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN) hosted a one-day youth policy event in Kaduna, recently

Although the youth constitute not less than 60% of Nigeria’s population, Nigerian youth’s participation in politics and governance processes is discouragingly low. Even though the youth, who are the backbone of the country, should play the most active role in political process, unfortunately, their participation is reduced to being used as tools for election violence, by politicians in the country.

It is in view of this and as part of efforts to empower the youth to be able to participate actively and positively in political processes that the Organization for Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN) hosted a one-day youth policy event themed: “Mobilising Youth for Positive Political Participation” recently in Kaduna state.

The Organization for Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to working with local citizens, and communities across Nigeria, to help them reach their full potential through promoting good governance, human rights and inclusive democracy that works for all.

Among others, the event featured paper presentations around the role of media in enhancing youth participation politics, the role of youth, students and market associations as well as young women in enhancing youth participation in political processes towards strengthening democratic processes. The event was attended by youth of diverse backgrounds including the civil society, political parties, student unions, as well as market unions.

Speaking on harnessing the power of young women in strengthening democracy, Daharatu Ahmed Aliyu, said for Nigeria to be able to harness the power of young women in strengthening its democracy it had to promote education for young women and the girl-child.

“For Nigeria to increase women’s participation in governance and help them contribute to the growth and development of families and communities, the country has to promote education for young women and girl child, and provide them with training on leadership skills and political governance,” said Daharatu Aliyu.

She therefore called on political parties, governments and relevant stakeholders to empower young women with political ambitions and the media to assist in educating and enlightening the young women on how to effectively participate in politics.

“We are calling on youth and women to understand that voting [in elections] is their right, which is how they can elect leaders of their choices. The youth are the backbone of the society and their role is very critical in the election of leaders and the entire political process. Moreover, this type of sensitization campaigns needs to be taken to the grassroots including markets to ensure everyone is carried along,” says Alfa Yahaya, a ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) youth leader in Kaduna state who participated in the youth policy event.

Bala Yakubu is a youth leader in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who was also in attendance at the event. He describes the event as all inclusive having brought together youth from across political parties, gender, ethnic and religious lines to discus with one another and exchange ideas on how to move the state forward.

“Youth should drive national development and as members of the opposition party in Kaduna state we are trying to sensitize our youth to avoid the politics of hate and bitterness and instead, to learn to hold the government in power accountable to the people,” says Bala Yakubu.

Abdulrazaq Alkali, the national coordinator of the Organization for Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN) said the idea of the event which was organized with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was to create a platform for youth in Kaduna state to learn how to participate effectively in political processes.

“We have participants of diverse backgrounds, from across the different political parties, students’ organizations, markets associations as well as the civil society. It is only through these kinds of programs that we can engage the youth and empowers them to be able to positively influence policies and hold their leaders accountable,” says Alkali.

For Nigeria to achieve sustainable development, its vast youth population must be adequately equipped and empowered with the necessary skills to be able to participate effectively in political process by being able to engage elected political leaders  towards accountability and transparency in democratic governance.

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