The Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) is partnering with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in developing a strategic framework for engaging Nigerian youths in the electoral cycle. To this end, a strategy meeting was conveyed with stakeholders to kick-start the process.
The development meeting which held over a two (2) day period from January 31st – February 1st in Abuja, had participants from youth led organizations across the country, as well as People With Disability (PWD) and INEC officials, all contributing to the development of the strategy.
Delivering his opening remarks; Director, Voter Education and Publicity INEC: Barrister Oluwole Uzzi stated that, ‘the participation of citizens in the electoral process is a sine-qua non for measuring the quality of elections.’ According to Barrister Uzzi, ‘an inclusive electoral process is an indicator of a country’s democratic development.’ He concluded by saying, “management of elections must ensure principles of inclusion and representation are guaranteed in their operations”.
The INEC Youth strategy development is to be driven by Four (4) key principles namely; Ownership, Innovation, Partnership and Sustainability and Accountability and is expected to be focused, inclusive, participatory and sustaining in order to cover various classes of youths including, Men, Women and PWDs. Series of meeting is expected to be held in the coming months as the INEC Youth Strategy is developed.
YIAGA Executive Director Samson Itodo, in his remark lauded INEC for the initiative saying “it is very commendable that a public institution identifies a gap in the electoral Process and its taking necessary steps to bridge the gap”. According to Itodo, there are several entry points for young people into the electoral process beyond just being voters as he reiterated that, young people can be candidates, election observers and Ad-hoc staff. He also advised INEC to retain its cohort of youth, especially from National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to enable the commission build a community of young people.
The INEC Youth Strategy meeting featured sessions on strategic thinking by Youth Organisations, Civil Society Organizations and INEC officials on how to develop an effective way of including Young people in the electoral process.