The Independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday recorded a major milestone to increase youth participation in the electoral process in Nigeria.
During meeting with stakeholders including the civil society, Youth Ambassadors, National Youth Service Corps and National Orientation Agency, the commission expressed optimism that youth participation remained paramount to the success of any democratic process.
The event was organised by INEC with support from YIAGA Africa and the European Union Centre for Electoral Systems.
A statement by INEC Deputy Director (Voter Education and Publicity, Andy Ezeani, said the chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, represented by a National Commissioner and chairman (Outreach and Partnership Committee), Dr. Adekunle Ogumola, underscored the significance of youths in the electoral process.
He said, “The commission is a threshold of developing a youth document, a document that codifies INEC youth focal activities with the ultimate objective of increasing the young people’s awareness and informed participation in the electoral process.”
According to him, the journey by the commission to develop a youth strategy to structure and animate youth participation in the electoral process started before 2017, with pre-inception consultation meetings with experts on youth matters and youth focal CSOs to lay groundwork.
Ogunmola said, “This was immediately followed by an inaugural meeting in January 2018 with broad spectrum of stakeholders with technical support from Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth, and Advancement to draw up a plan of action to guide the development.”
He stressed the commission’s determination towards a more robust electoral process with increased youth participation.
“The commission is passionate about integrating youth matters into the mainstream electoral process. Hence, it’s determined efforts at providing structure and funding in a sustainable manner to address the institutional, socio-economic challenges impeding youth unhindered participation in the electoral process”, Ogunmola stated.
While commending YIAGA Africa and ECES contributions to the development of the document, Ogunmola said that the assistance from the commission’s partners has not only made the meeting possible but also helped INEC in developing a strategy document for youth that will stand the test of time and also continue to fulfill the objective of promoting young men and women’s interest and awareness in the electoral process.
INEC Director (Voter Education and Publicity), Nick Dazang, observed that the youths constitute about 66 per cent of the Nigerian population and were properly positioned to move the Nigerian economy forward if their energies are adequately harnessed.
Dazang harped on the need to engage youth in the electoral and political process while commending the development of the Youth Engagement Strategy.