The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed determination to develop a more robust electoral process with increased youth participation.
Commission’s chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, made the disclosure at an INEC/Stakeholders Validation Strategy Document for Enhancing Youth Participation in Electoral Process virtual meeting in Abuja on Thursday.
Represented by the Chairman of the Commission’s Outreach and Partnership Committee (OPC), Dr Adekunle Ogumola, the Commission underscored the important role of youths in the electoral process.
According to him; “the Commission is in a threshold of developing a youth document…. a document that codifies INEC youth focal activities with the ultimate objective of increasing the young people’s awareness and informed participation in the electoral process.”
The Commission’s boss further explained that the journey to develop a Youth Strategy to structure and animate youth participation in the electoral process started before 2017, “with Pre inception consultation meetings with experts on youth matters and youth focal CSOs to lay groundwork.”
“This was immediately followed by inaugural meeting in Jaunary 2018 with broad spectrum of stakeholders with technical support from Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) to draw up a plan of action to guide the development,” he said.
While stressing the Commission’s determination towards a more robust electoral process with increased youth participation, the electoral umpire said:
“the Commission is passionate about integrating youth matters into the mainstream electoral process. Hence, its determined efforts at providing structure and funding in sustainable manner to address the institutional, socio-economic challenges impeding youth unhindered participation in the electoral process.
“The envisioned INEC Youth document speaks eloquently to this commitment to move away from ad-hoc approach to youth electoral issues to a structured approach with definitive road map to upscale and sustain youth responsiveness,” he said.
Appreciating the contributions of YIAGA Africa and ECES to the development of the document, he stressed: “the assistance from our partners has not only made this meeting possible but also helped INEC in developing a Strategy document for youth that will stand the test of time and also continue to fulfill the objective of promoting young men and women’s interest and awareness in the electoral process.”
The Commission with support from Yiaga Africa and the European Union Centre for Electoral Systems (ECES) had sought stakeholders’ inputs in developing a document aimed at mainstreaming youth participation in the process.
Director, Voter Education and Publicity Department, Nick Dazang, observed that the youths constitute about 66 per cent of the Nigerian population and are properly positioned to move the Nigerian economy forward if their energies are adequately harnessed.
Dazang harped on the need to engage the youth in the electoral and political process, while commending the development of the Youth Engagement Strategy (YES).