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2015: Youths demand 30 percent affirmative action of positions

Ahead of the 2015 General Elections, youth leaders of political parties and civil society organisations have demanded a 30 percent quota reservation for young people…

Ahead of the 2015 General Elections, youth leaders of political parties and civil society organisations have demanded a 30 percent quota reservation for young people in all elective and appointed positions.
This was among the resolutions of participants at the launch of the South-East popularisation of the “Nigerian Youth Agenda on Political Participation”, which also signifies the commencement of the nationwide popularization campaign of the Agenda for advocacy, voter education and youth mobilization ahead of the 2015 elections.
It was organised by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) and the United Nations Development Program/Democratic Governance Development Project (UNDP/DGD) yesterday in Enugu, Enugu State.
Speaking at the event Project Director of the DGD/ UNDP, Dr. Mourtada Deme, represented by Dr. Sadeeq Abba said the organisation was concern on how Nigerian youths can actively and positively participate in the nation’s politics and democratic development.
“Since 2012 that we have been involved in the development of the Agenda, we have seen remarkable improvement and the UNDP/DGD will sustain the support,” he said.
Research and Programs Manager of YIAGA Cynthia Mbamalu, said that over the last 24 months, youth leaders of political parties and youth civil society organizations with the support of the UNDP/DGD engaged debates, roundtables and conferences all in a bid to improve the quality of youth participation in electoral politics and that one key outcome of the engagement was the drafting of the Agenda and that it articulates the views and aspirations of young people irrespective of political, religious, ethnic and sectional interests.
“Through the instrumentality of this document, a template for increasing youth participation in politics and decision making will be adopted by different stakeholders in the electoral process. Needless to say also that it bridges the gap between youths in political parties and the leaders of youth civil society organizations. The series of event on the popularisation is also aimed at enhancing participation through the instrumentality of the Document,” she said.
She therefore urged youths to see beyond being used as political tools by politicians but to fully participate in political and electioneering activities.
National coordinator of the Youth Alliance on Constitution and Electoral Reform (YACORE) Mallam Abdulrahman Hamisu while giving the overview of the Agenda recalled that majority of the leaders of the first Republic were under the age bracket of 21 and 35 years including former President Shehu Shagari who joined active politics at 21.
“Despite the contributions of Nigerians youths to national development, older politicians seem to have taking the youths as tool of pasting posters during electioneering, crowd at rallies and we can also see that even older people are mostly commissioners of youths across most states in the country. All this have to change in the interest of the nation’s democratic and national development,” he said.
He however said the 30 percent demand was not a challenge or contradiction to the women’s 35 percent affirmative action.
Head of Research, Policy and Advocacy of YIAGA, Samson Itodo while speaking on the effective use of the Agenda for citizens mobilisation and voter education, said it youths are still talking about issues of 2011 in 2014, it means that something was fundamentally wrong ad which among others may not be unconnected with lack of strategic thinking, planning, acting and engagement.
“We all need to work assiduously and asked ourselves if only joining PDP, APC, Accord, APGA and other popular parties will help the youths’ cause where there are other parties that we can make the desired changes and turn their fortunes around with sound and strategic initiatives. If after the 2015 elections we do not have gains to count but complains then our efforts would have been in vain and we cannot afford to have that. We should double our efforts strategically to achieve the 2015 objectives for the youths of Nigeria and not on sectional or other sentiments basis,” Itodo said.
The Administration and Programme Manager of Youngstars Foundation Bola Abimbola said youth cannot continue to mouth participating in politics but be seen to be actively involved in the activities of the patties of their choice, as the only way to be involved by the leaders of the parties and electorates.
The Agenda which was formally unveiled last July in Abuja as part of measures to bolster youths’ involvement in politics and governance among others is also aimed at safeguarding youth participation in electoral politics in the build up to the 2015 general elections and beyond.

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