From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Amidst controversy over the introduction of direct primaries in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said it will engender the participation of young persons in governance.
Gbajabiamila stated this, in Abuja, on Saturday, at National Children’s Dialogue to mark the 2021 Universal Children’s Day, organized by his office and the Children Of Africa Leadership And Values Development Initiative (CALDEV).
The dialogue had the theme, “The Nigerian Child and the National Unity Project.”
The speaker noted that there must be deliberate efforts to prepare children and youths in the country to become the leaders of tomorrow. He stated that such efforts must include involving them in governance and expanding the democratic space to accommodate young persons.
Gbajabiamila explained that this was the reason he championed an amendment to the Electoral Bill, 2021 for the use of Direct Primaries by political parties as a method of choosing candidates for elective offices.
According to him, with direct primaries, a youth with leadership qualities had equal chances of becoming a candidate for an elective office just like any other person.
“That debate on direct primaries, which I championed, is about the future of our country. Our position in the 9th House of Representatives is that everyone must have equal opportunities to participate in governance and the democratic process…
“Our young people must have a seat at the high table and we must create the enabling environment for them to be in leadership such that a young man with bold ideas can come out to vie for any position, be it legislator, governor or any other office. That can only be achieved through direct primaries, which will give a fair chance to the youth of this country to be involved in governance, ” he stated.
Also, the speaker called for huge investment in youth education, particularly technology, which he noted has transformed the world from what it used to be into a global village.
According to him, “Technology has changed our world. We no longer exist in communal or national silos but as part of a broad fabric of humanity in a global village where opportunities and challenges abound.
“In this new world where a child with a computer and internet connection in Lagos can compete for jobs in Texas or Bombay, our job as leaders is to ensure that every Nigerian child is educated and empowered to compete in and succeed in this global marketplace of ideas and talent.”
He commended the CALDEV board led by a member of the House, Bamidele Salam, for initiating the dialogue series.
Earlier, Salam, in welcome address stated that the project was to build “exemplary” children with all the qualities that would lead Nigeria to become a truly great country.