On 25 July, Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) launched a new Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) to support the advancement of democracy in Nigeria through increased political participation and electoral representation of young people.
At 60%, Nigeria has one of the highest shares of people aged between 18 and 35 in the world. Young people make up over 55% of registered voters but are not able to stand as parliamentary candidates until they turn 30, meaning a large share of voting adults are not represented in the National Assembly.
The three-year, 114 million Nigerian Naira programme (279,000 GBP) will support Nigerian youth groups and political parties with the objective of enabling greater youth participation. It will focus on three levels of intervention:
- Helping establish national cross-party consensus to lower the minimum age for candidates
- Supporting major Nigerian political parties to develop effective youth wings
- Enabling Nigerian civil society to engage more young people in the democratic process
The programme will work closely with the Young Parliamentarian Forum of the National Assembly, the youth wings of the APC and PDP parties, local NGO Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports (MoYS) and Nigerian Youth Parliament (NYP).
Launching the Youth Empowerment Programme at a workshop with Nigerian youth leaders in Abuja, Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of WFD said:
“A multi-party democracy can still fall short of citizen expectations when a large chunk of the population is not represented in Parliament. WFD Nigeria’s Youth Empowerment Programme aims at tackling this challenge.
“In 2019, the republican Constitution of Nigeria will turn 20. By then, we hope many candidates born under democratic rule will be able to stand for office and shape the future of Nigerian democracy.”
Participating in the launch, Kate Osamor MP, chair of the UK House of Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group on Nigeria said:
“Nigeria’s success as a prosperous and progressive country depends on enabling young people to get involved in the political system, shaping the agenda and taking decisions about the future of their country. That is what the WFD programme will focus on.”
WFD will be supporting this three-year programme with funding from the UK Government. It will be one of WFD’s innovative ‘integrated programmes’: bringing together political party and parliamentary expertise to address a policy issue from multiple angles and involving a variety of decision-makers. The WFD Nigeria ‘Youth Empowerment Programme’ will benefit from a partnership with the international offices of the UK Conservative and Labour parties.
(Photo: young women participate in the youth empowerment programme launch, 25 July 2017)