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Nigeria news: Northern youths call for electoral reform

COMMUNIQUE

NORTHERN YOUTH DIALOGUE ON ELECTORAL REFORM ORGANIZED BY YOUTH ACTION INITIATIVE AFRICA (YAIA) WITH SUPPORT FROM INTERNATIONAL REPUBLICAN INSTITUTE (IRI) HELD ON

1st JULY, 2009. @ CREST HOTEL JOS, PLATEAU STATE.

Preamble:

The Northern Youth Dialogue on Electoral Reform was organized by Youth Action Initiative Africa (YAIA) with support from International Republican Institute (IRI). The one day dialogue had in attendance about 83 participants representing various youth groups, organizations, People Living with Disabilities and media from the 19 Northern states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The Dialogue was attended by distinguished personalities like Country Director IRI Dr. Mourtada Deme, Deputy Governor of Plateau State Chief (Mrs.) Pauline Tallen represented by Hon. Diket Plang (SA to the Deputy Gov. on Inter-governmental Affairs), Speaker Plateau House of Assembly represented by his Chief of Staff, Hon. Dino Melaye, Dr. Saddiq Abba(Pol. Sci Dept Uniabuja), Barr. Festus Okoye, Dr. Habu Galadima, Dr. Shedrack Best, Prof. Nnamdi Aduba, Boniface Kassam (CISLAC), Gad Shamaki, Yemisi Ilesanmi (NLC)

OBSERVATIONS

1. Youths have lost confidence in the electoral system. Consequently, there is so much apathy on the part of Nigerian youths.

2. Nigerian youths are not carried along in democratic processes. Particularly in the electoral reforms process as contained in the formation of the committee and in their recommendations.

3. Youths in Nigeria represent 68% of the population yet they remain voiceless and endangered. Our political elites and leaders have failed to encourage and promote democratic ethos while in government hence do not serve as role models to young people.

4. Given the present situation the government seems not to be ready to carry on with the electoral reform.

5. The task of salvaging our electoral system lays on our representatives in the National Assembly.

6. The Nigerian people face so many challenges and social problems; these include unemployment, lack of quality education, poverty, Ethnicity and religion.

7. Most policies and programs targeted towards youth development are never taken seriously by successive regimes. As a result, youths are used by politicians to rig elections through various forms of political violence, political thuggery, gangstarism etc

RESOLUTIONS

We the Northern Youths collectively resolved as follows, that;

1. Government should as matter of urgency create adequate space for young people to engage the electoral reform process.

2. The Justice Uwais led committee’s recommendation on the appointment of INEC Chairman must be adopted by the National Assembly. In order words, the power to appoint the INEC Chairman should be removed from the Presidency.

3. The composition of the Independent National Electoral Commission board must include a youth representative between the ages of 25 to 35.

4. During public hearings that must be organized by the National Assembly, the Senate and House of Representatives must ensure that youths are given adequate space to submit memoranda and make presentations.

5. Government should as a matter of urgency create adequate job opportunities to reduce poverty, in order to deepen youth political participation.

6. We shall establish a coalition to be called the “Northern Youth Coalition on Electoral Reform” to develop strategies that will enable us effectively engage the electoral reform process and ensure our views and opinions are not neglected. The engagement strategy shall be based on shared beliefs regardless of ethnic & religious differences and it must be based on an organized advocacy campaign.

Signed

Ibrahim Umar Maska (North West Representative)

Kaliyat Ballat (North West Representative)

Yagana Mohammed Kachalla (North East Representative)

Hussaini Mustapha (North East Representative)

Dayo Olugboye (North Central Representative)

Lauretta Challa (North Central Representative)

Samson Itodo YAIA