By Angela Atabo
The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), has called on youths to unite and participate actively in the 2023 general elections to change the political narrative positively.
Mr Innocent Okafor, Coordinator, YALI, made the call at the 2022 YALI National Summit in Abuja, with the theme “Change the Narratives: A call to take responsibility, taking bold steps now for our desired future’’.
Okafor said that YALI a U.S. initiative was established by former President Barack Obama in 2010 to invest in the future of African youths.
According to him, every year YALI comes up with a summit where young people could deliberate on issues as it directly affects them.
“During the End SARS protest, a lot of us were involved in that protest to demand for a better Nigeria for a change, for better policing of the country.
“Today, the fallout of that was not a total failure as people say.
“It only helped us to go back to the drawing board and work on how we can get it right with the opportunity 2023 general election has provided us with.
“We as young people can no longer sit at the back while someone not fit enough will drive the vehicle, no.
“We are now coming forward to drive that same vehicle ourselves because we are strong, energetic and we have what it takes up there to be voted for and to vote,’’ he said.
Okafor said there were various sessions where youths from the six geopolitical zones stated thematic areas affecting them.
He added that diplomats were then invited to share their experiences on how they were able to deal with those challenges in their countries.
“This is for us to learn from and to proffer lasting solutions to make Nigeria work.
“This is the only country we have, if I ‘japa’ like other youths what will become of it? So, we will stay as youths united to fix the country for good.’’
Ms Ann Stanley, Media Team Lead for YALI 2022 National Summit, said the group was working to encourage women and youths to participant in election.
According to her, this is by making them understand that their vote is their right and their vote is their future.
“You need to understand that you cannot be sitting on the fence and expect things to be done differently.
“You cannot be waiting for the next person to drive that change that you badly desire to see.
“The drive for that change should start with you, so, if you feel that things are not going the way they should go then you should be part of the process,’’ she said.
Stanley said YALI was advocating and encouraging women and youths to come out of their comfort zone and be part of the electoral process to be drivers of the change they wanted to see in Nigeria.
Mr Festus Moses, Kano State Coordinator YALI, said that the body was working in the state to understand the electoral process and that the 2023 election would be a deciding factor for them.
Moses said there was need for youths to understand that the 2023 election was a deciding factor for them to decide who they wanted as leaders and to also participate in politics.
Mr Umoh Edet, a participant commended YALI for the summit adding that the two days summit was impactful with practical experiences and way forward on how youths could take part in elections and governance among others.
Edet said the two-day programme was insightful and timely.
“We have been charged as youths to rise up and change the narrative by taking responsibilities in our different fields.
“I have learnt a lot from people’s experiences shared on how to proffer solutions to problems affecting our various zones such as education, electoral reforms among others to see what we can do for our country.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that top government officials, diplomats, civil society leaders and other Nigerians attended the summit.(NAN)