Young parliamentarians at the heart of advancing youth interests in Nigeria

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Young parliamentarians at the heart of advancing youth interests in Nigeria

November 20th, 2020

A healthy democracy needs to include everyone in decision-making processes and structures of governance. However, in many parts of the world young people, women, and persons with disabilities (PWDs) have often been relegated to the side-lines.

At WFD, we believe that there are endless possibilities and opportunities that can be realized when all people are equally and fairly represented. For instance, there is bound to be increased global growth through innovation and creative advancement when young people are empowered.

In Africa’s most populous country – Nigeria, young people constitute about 70% of the population. Despite their large number, youth still face the challenge of being excluded from governance spaces of the country – such as Parliament. This puts efforts to strengthen democracy in the nation at risk of failure.

Since early October 2020, protests and unrest have been witnessed in many parts of the nation. Nigerians – particularly young people – took to the streets to demonstrate against human rights abuse, police brutality, and the status quo on matters of youth development and empowerment.

To address the strategic areas of youth interests and interrogate the underlying issues behind the challenge of police brutality in Nigeria, WFD supported the Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF), a platform of young legislators from the National Assembly and one of our key partners on the Nigerian Inclusive and Accountable Politics (IAP) programme, in holding an emergency strategy retreat on 31st October 2020.

With the theme of ‘Rethinking Youth Development in Nigeria’, the YPF met to discuss three issues: youth education, youth inclusion in governance, and youth social and economic justice.

People sitting in a meeting

Cross Section of participants during the Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) national retreat in Abuja on October 31, 2020.

One of the outcomes of the strategic meeting was the communiqué that the YPF sent to the government that set out their demands, including a request for a constitutional amendment and electoral reforms.

The YPF seeks constitutional amendments geared towards promoting: the devolution of powers, national integration, socio-economic justice, and the political inclusion of youth, women, and persons with disabilities.

When it comes to electoral reforms, the forum called for: effective deployment of technology for transparent and credible elections, a change of the high cost of elections, democratic processes within political parties and proper election day management.

The forum further discussed the historic evolution of youth movements, challenges of youth development in Nigeria and came up critical action points for accountability measures towards achieving effective solutions to youth demands by proposing key resolutions on:

  • Ending police brutality and ensuring justice for victims.
  • Reducing unemployment among Nigerian youth.
  • Addressing the breakdown of law and order through insecurity.
  • Facilitating transparent investigations of human rights violation cases.
  • Reviewing the security architecture of the country.
  • Heightening the action to resolve the persistent crisis in the education sector.
An inmage showing key resolutions from a meeting

Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) key resolutions from the national retreat.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who was in attendance, committed to reconvene the House to discuss matters of national interest, youth related bills, as well as concerns raised by the YPF at the strategy meeting, saying:

“I do intend to reconvene the House to consider a couple of very important things that will affect Nigerians such as the Electoral Law, the PIB [Petroleum Industry Bill] and more importantly the Bills that are already in the system concerning the development of the youth.”

This is not the first time WFD has collaborated with the YPF in promoting and protecting the interests of young Nigerians. In 2018, WFD supported the sustainability of the YPF by helping it to develop its Action Plans (2018-2023) and its Rules and Operational Guidelines.

In October 2019, the YPF was inaugurated in the 9th National Assembly with the support of WFD. Currently, WFD is working with the YPF to mentor young volunteers who are interested in promoting politics with values on the platform of the Inclusive and Accountable Politics (IAP) programme funded by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

The Nigerian YPF national strategy meeting took place on 31st October 2020 in Abuja and was supported by Westminster Foundation for Democracy Nigeria, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) Africa and Action Aid.

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