The Speaker of the Nigerian Youth Parliament, Azeezat Yishawu, has said that the parliament will continue to engage political parties and their candidates post the February 25 elections, to push for youth engagement in government.
Yishawu made this known during the Youth Parliament, National Youth Dialogue with Political Parties, held at the Nigeria Army Resource Centre, in Asokoro Abuja, on Thursday. She said the purpose of the event, was to invite the party candidates to directly address the youth, and youth groups in their plans, as contained in their manifestos, adding that the candidates had rarely engaged the youth population, outside political rallies, or within the confines of party engagements, in the last 12 months.
Yishawu also said that the parliament was looking towards engaging with political parties, post-election, on their plans for youth development, and to discuss the processes of inclusive action, implementation, and policy strategy.
“So, what we did today was to invite political parties, APC, PDP, Accord, SDP, Labour Party, NRP, and those that we can get our hands on, to be here for this program, to provide a serene environment for them to be able to engage the youth on their party manifesto. We expect them to be able to engage our participants on what they have as plans for youth development on education, which is very important, technology, health, women, and persons with disability as well.
We wanted young people to know what they are voting for. Post-election, part of the engagement with the parliament is to see how to work with political parties… especially those parties that win the election, so that the process of action, implementation, and policy strategy can be more inclusive this time around. We are hoping that more young people will be going out to vote, and for us on platforms like Nigeria Youth Parliament, we can use that figure to engage with political parties, to engage with the government, to show the strength of young people.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, who was represented by the Director of Networking and Social Mobilization, Amina Dauran, encouraged the youth to continue to participate in electoral processes, stating that the youth had been denied the chance to count and be counted. “As Nigeria prepares for elections, the role and place of the youths in Nigeria’s capacity to conduct free, fair, and peaceful elections remain a very critical factor in the process. Nigerian voters especially the youths have been denied the chance to count and be counted in the process of choosing who governs them; a situation that has become a key driver of conflict in the transition in the transition process in Nigeria. I want to urge you to continually seek ways of participation in electoral processes, have a say in how you are governed; aspire to lead”.
INEC National Commissioner in-charge of Outreach and Partnership (OPC), Prof Kunle Ajayi, who was represented by Mr. Sunday Bassey, commended the Nigerian Youth Parliament for the initiative to engage political parties.
According to Ajayi, the commission had vowed to Nigerians that it would conduct free, fair, and credible elections, adding, “they will be transparent, inclusive, and conclusive. “Whoever emerges as the winner will be the people you vote for, nobody will rig for anybody, gone are those days in INEC.