By Progress Godfrey, Abuja
The International Republican Institute (IRI) in a bid to address the exclusionary regime and bridge the leadership gaps, has convened a National Youth Party Leaders Workshop in Abuja on Wednesday.
The workshop seeks to review the legal framework for youth political representation in the Constitution and Political Party leadership structures.
A communique read by Barr. Maurice Ebam, the National Youth Leader of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) states that, “70 percent of the Nigerian population is under the age of 40, representing over half of Nigeria’s population who are under-represented in the political space. Hence the importance of the convergence of youth party leaders to address exclusionary regimes and leadership gaps.”
The IRI Country Representative, Mr. Sunday Alao in his opening remarks spoke about the demographic bulge amongst youth which he said, “has significant implications for economic activity, public service provision, and state stability.”
The participants in the communique, resolved on specific areas of focus bordering around political party and constitutional amendments,
The communique reads in part, “The specific areas of focus for the workshop were; RESOLUTIONS – POLITICAL PARTY: Youth Mainstreaming through Internal Party Democracy – Political parties to reserve Youth Party Leadership positions at all levels for young persons within the ages of 18-40.
“Twinning of youth party leadership position -Political parties to adopt the principles of twinning for party leadership positions to promote the inclusion of young women in party leadership positions
“Deputation of party position for youths – Political Parties to the emergence of young persons to occupy deputy party leadership position to provide platform for mentorship and leadership recruitment. Nomination of young persons as Candidates for Local Government Elective Positions – Political Parties to streamline the nomination of elective positions at the local government levels for young persons
“CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS: Financial Autonomy for Local Government – Amend relevant sections of the Constitution to provide for the allocation of Local Governments directly from the Federation Account on first line charge.
“Tenure of Office for Local Government Officials – Amend relevant section of the constitution to guarantee Local Government Independence through the tenure of office for democratically elected Local Government officials to be fixed at a 4 Year Tenure
“Strengthening Local Elections – Amend relevant sections of the constitution to provide constitutional safeguards that will strengthen State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIEC) and improve the credibility and integrity of local government elections.
“Appointment of Youth Representation in the Constitutional Bodies – Amend relevant sections in the Constitution to provide for youth representation in Executive Bodies created by the Constitution, particularly; Federal Character Commission, Independent National Electoral Commission, National Security Council.”
Participants at the workshop resolved on the need to develop Bills on the proposed amendment to the Constitution on the following: “Financial Autonomy of Local Government, Tenure of Office for Local Government Officials, Strengthening Local Elections, Youth Representation in Constitutional Bodies (Federal Character, INEC, National Security Council), Interpretation of the Age Bracket of Nigerian Youth in the Constitution,” the communique further stated
Participants also resolved to embark on advocacy and consultation on the following Stakeholders; “Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the House of Representatives Constitutional Review Committee, Young Parliamentarians Forum as well as Political Party Leadership,” the communique added
The Communique was signed by 14 participants cutting across different political party National Youth Leadership and Civil Society Organisations representatives.
Other participants who delivered goodwill messages were; The IPAC Chairman Dr. Leonard Nzenwa, Barr. Ismaeel Ahmed, the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Youth Leader and a youth representative to the APC National Caretaker Committee, Hon. Ske Udeh-Okoye the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) National Youth Leader represented by Mr. Aruwa Ismail the North Central Youth Leader.
The thematic areas for Constitutional Review was presented by Dr. Shuaibu Danwanka of the National Legislative Institute. While Dr. Ernest Ereke, of the University of Abuja led the discussion on the need for greater youth participation in the political party leadership. Hon. Kabir Tukura of the House of Representatives gave an update on the activities of the Young parliamentary Forum (YPF) on legislations to improve youth representation in government.