In 2019, Westminster Foundation for Democracy launched a two-year programme (2019-2021) to promote inclusion and build citizens’ capacity to demand open and transparent governance. The programme will engage representatives from political parties, civil society organisations and young volunteers who will work together to promote politics with values in the Nigerian political system and advance youth inclusion in the decision-making processes of political parties.
In Nigeria, young people make up 51% of registered voters, and women constitute 41%. The low or non-participation of this huge majority in decision-making processes stops their voices from being heard and their perspectives taken into account in the policies that directly impact their lives.
It is on record that at least 14 million young voters have registered since 2017. With the passage of the eligibility age law in May 2018, space has been created for 18 to 35-year-olds, who constitute over 60% of the population, to be more involved in the governance process. However, the effects of this may not be immediate, as work still needs to be done to strengthen youth capacity to be involved, bring positive values to, and change the face of politics. Political parties, including their youth wings, also need to be more democratic and promote ideologies which will remove barriers to the emergence of women and young leaders.
Working with civil society organisations like the Youth Initiative for Advocacy and Growth Advancement (YIAGA) the programme shows young people how they can support campaigns that advocate for greater youth participation and engage with political institutions. WFD and the UK political parties will share a range of experiences on youth participation from the UK and other countries where WFD works. The combination of grassroots campaigning and high-level advocacy will help address the low levels of youth participation and representation in Nigeria by encouraging more youth-led policy initiatives and better inter-generational partnerships.
Funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), WFD is a member of the consortium implementing the flagship, five-year Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) programme. Working at the national level and in the 3 States of Jigawa, Kano and Kaduna, WFD is supporting constituencies to influence governments about the services they receive and any policies related to them. To achieve this, WFD will support the use of evidence-based research for policy recommendations related to the budget process in the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly in Jigawa, Kano and Kaduna).