YOUTH SUMMIT ON THE 2011 GENERAL ELECTIONS
On April 28, 2010; youth organizations from the 36 states of the federation held a one-day summit on the 2011 elections with support from the International Republican Institute (IRI). The summit took place at the Asaa Pyramid Hotel, Kaduna. The event provided an opportunity for us, the Nigerian youth, to acquire knowledge on the rights and privileges we have to responsibly participate in the 2011 elections. The presentations and discussions at the workshop enriched our understanding of the responsibility we have as the future leaders of our country to positively contribute our quota towards achieving peaceful and credible elections in 2011. In addition to this were able to identify a number of things we can do, like civic education, to improve the participation of our peers in the up general elections.
The summit facilitated group discussions which focused on why and how Nigerian youth can get involved with political parties, what we can do about civic education, how we can contribute to peaceful elections in 2011 and how to monitor the entire 2011 electoral process and ensure its credibility. Our discussions were guided by some local, regional and international legal instruments, like the 1999 constitution, the African Youth Charter, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976), the United Nations World Program of Action Youth to the Year 2000 and beyond.
Youth at the summit made the following observations:
1. Participants noted, discussed and identified the participatory right of youths in the general elections in Nigeria as provided by enabling laws.
2. Participants also identified, discussed and established the responsibilities of the youths to the state.
3. The participants noted that the leaders of Nigeria have failed to pass on to the youth good legacies, standards, and morals that will serve as a foundations for them to build better leadership; whereas youths are meant to be a vanguard of trust for elections not just in Nigeria but in all the countries of the world.
4. Participants admitted that there has been a great reluctance by the youth to take actions to ensure that they make concrete inputs in the electoral and leadership processes of the country.
5. The summit observed that there is a low appreciation of the need to embrace networking as a means of engineering lasting change in the Nigeria’s political processes.
6. Participants observed that a high percentage of Nigerian youth did not have valid voters cards, and stood the risk of not being able to vote in the 2011 general elections
7. Participating youth at the summit also observed that quite a number youth were not registered members of political parties and could not exploit the platform of any Nigeria’s 57 political parties to contest elections.
8. Summit participants noted that Nigerian youth have so far failed to utilize the knowledge and skills gained at workshops in the development and implementation strategy-based interventions in the electoral process.
9. During the discussions, it was clearly highlighted that there exist an absence of local structures of political relevance in Nigeria.
10. Participants lamented the low publicity and visibility of youth programmes and called on youth organizations to seek the assistance of development agencies like IRI to correct the anomalies
11. The participants observed that contrary to the request of the youth that the age benchmark for qualification to run for elective positions be reduced, the National Assembly passed the opposite by increasing the age benchmark. The youth’s request on this matter was contained in a memorandum they presented at the National Assembly public hearings on constitutional reform.
Having considered our discussions at the summit and stating necessary observations, we the Nigerian youth from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory resolve as follows:
1. There is an immediate need to further sensitize the youths on their rights in the 2011 general elections as provided by the enabling laws.
2. The Nigerian youth must answer the clarion call of dutifully exercising the responsibilities of a citizen to the state.
3. The youth must assume a leading role and serve as the vanguard of trust for every phase of elections in Nigeria
4. The youth should make emphatic inputs into the electoral and leadership processes of the country.
5. Measures should be put in place to ensure that the youth embrace participatory networking
6. That all youths should get registered to vote during elections to be directly involved in the election of their leaders.
7. We resolve also that youths should join political parties i.e. become card-carrying members of the parties to have a stronger influence on the political process.
8. That youth; especially youth leaders should make maximum use of workshops and seminars deploying strategy-based interventions to promote active youth participation in the electoral process.
9. That local structure of political relevance should be put in place in Nigeria by the government and the development agencies.
10. That youth organizations should engage more time and energy to liaise with development agencies and bodies like IRI, NED and NDI e.t.c to promote their activities
11. The youth should mobilize themselves to lobby their representatives in the state Houses of Assembly as well as trying other available options permissible under our law to ensure that the age limit for contestants into elective offices is reduced
Motion for Adoption of Communiqué
Moved by Nentawe Gomiyar of the Youth Advancement Initiative, Nassarawa road, Kaduna
Seconded by Ogaga Maxwell of the Dare 2 Dream Youth Initiative, Warri, Delta state.
Communiqué put to vote and unanimously adopted by 4:30 pm on April 28, 2010.