COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE 1-DAY TOWNHALL MEETING AT COMMUNITY LEVEL ON INSPIRING YOUTH FOR LEADERSHIP FOR KOGI CENTRAL SENATORIAL DISTRICT ORGANIZED BY THE CONSCIENCE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION (CHRCR) AT AFIMS HOTEL, OKENE, OKENE LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA ON THURSDAY 11TH JANUARY 2024 SUPPORTED BY THE WOMEN TRUST FUND NIGERIA AND MACAUTHUR FOUNDATION.
The meeting had in attendance representatives of Youth leaders, Media Practitioners, Persons with Disabilities, Community leaders, and Traditional leaders.
There were paper presentations on Inspiring Youth for Leadership by Executive Director, Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR) Idris Miliki Abdul, Challenges of Youth in Attaining Leadership position and the way forward by Executive Director, Initiative for Grassroot Advancement in Nigeria (INGRA), Hamza Aliyu, plenary session, Question and Answer session and Communique development and dissemination.
– The November 11th 2023 Governorship election witnessed some level of disenfranchisement of electorates (especially youths) due to non-availability of Permanent Voters Cards in some offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the central senatorial district.
– That Vote Buying is still a strong influence in elections at state level
– Violence during the November 11th Governorship elections was still prevalent in some parts of the Central senatorial district, particularly at some polling units
– There is a visible improvement in the youth participation and leadership at all levels
– The “Not too young to run” campaign has increased awareness on the political participation rights of young persons. However, there is still room for improvement.
– That the Nigerian Constitution discriminates against young persons in terms of *age of voting* and *age to be voted* for.
– The signing into law of the Youth Development Commission Law and its establishment in Kogi State by the Alhaji Yahaya Bello Administration is a welcome development that is aimed at promoting the importance of youths in Kogi State. However, there has not been any budgetary allocation to the Youth Development Commission since its creation, which has continually affected its development.
– A major challenge to youth participation in leadership is corruption and Accountability issues which has spread in all areas of our community life including religious, professional and community circles.
– Youth participation in political party leadership is still a major challenge as the only position available to youth most times is the position of Youth leader.
– The number of young persons that sought the Nomination of their political party in the November 2023 Governorship election, was very low.
– The failure of the Yahaya Bello Administration to conduct Local Government Council elections at the end of the elected councils and the unconstitutional imposition of Caretaker leadership, is regrettable, condemnable and unacceptable. This has denied young persons from participating in political governance at local levels, and this contravenes the provision of Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution as Amended.
– Despite the illegality of the Care Taker administration at local government Council level, the appointments were not women and youth sensitive.
The meeting made the following recommendations:
– The Kogi State Government must through the Budgetary provisions, fund the Youth Development Commission adequately, to ensure that they perform their statutory role of improving youth living standard.
– Youth must demand for Accountability from elected/appointed leaders to improve their standard of living and skills in leadership to improve good governance
– All stakeholders in elections, need to address the negative phenomenon of vote buying and selling
– Government must always ensure equity in the appointment into public offices, particular to young persons, to improve their leadership development.
– There is need for political parties to ensure that young persons have the opportunity to lead at all levels of the party
– There is need for citizens to fight corruption and encourage Accountability in all spheres of life, particularly the Nigerian youth as it can affect their development and future.
– Amendment of the 1999 Constitution to address the issue of age of contesting for political offices, will address the discrimination of young persons across Nigeria and improve youth in leadership position.
– *The Kogi State House of Assembly must reverse the amendment of the Local Government Administration Law, that empowers the State Governor to appoint Caretaker leadership as it is inconsistent with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and to that extent of its inconsistency, it is null and void*
– The Kogi State Government must as a matter of urgency, conduct elections into Local Government Councils as soon as possible within 6 months, through budgetary allocation in a Supplementary Budget as the current 2024 Kogi State Budget does not make such provision.
The meeting thanked the Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR) for the on-going sensitization campaign towards improving youth involvement in leadership at state level in Kogi State. It also appreciated The Nigeria Women Trust Fund and the continuous support of MacArthur Foundation.
*IDRIS MILIKI ABDUL*
Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR)
Lokoja, Kogi State.