The Acting Director General, The Electoral Institute (TEI) Sa’ad Umar Idris, on Tuesday declared that youths in Nigeria have the power to determine the outcome of the 2019 general elections if they are properly mobilized motivated.
Idris, who said this while making his remarks at The Electoral Institute’s First Abubakar Momoh Memorial Lecture with the theme: Youth Empowerment And Participation In 2019 General Elections,” noted that the youth have the power to effect change by having their voices heard and most importantly, participating in the electoral process.
Late Prof Abubakar Momoh who died on Democracy Day in 2017, was DG of The Electoral Institute from August 2013 to May 2017. Momoh was eulogized by the acting DG for his efforts to improve the lots of the youth using his intellectual prowess to strengthen them. “Prof Momoh’s role in grooming the youth is the reason we chose this topic in this first lecture,” Idris said.
Idris who lamented that the youths have not been active in politics, added that while others did not understand what politics really means, some don’t know candidates position on issues of national importance. “But the youths are very important in electoral processes. They youth participation will determine the outcome of the 2019 general elections,” he said.
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Mahmood Yakubu, who was represented by Chairman of the occasion, Okechukwu Ibeano, advocated opening the minds of the youths with the right kind of consciousness, stressing that “it is not just about having more young people in government but young people dedicated and committed to the prosperity and development of the country.”
Ibeano, who is also the Chairman Board of Electoral Institute(BEI) lamented that from records, youth participation in the electoral process is declining because of nonchalant attitude of the citizens, failure of candidates to fulfill electoral promises made during campaigns, loss of confidence in the electoral commission, electoral fraud, cumbersome electoral process, insecurity and violence.
The Guest Lecturer and a veteran Professor of Political Science and a former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Assisi Asobie, during his presentation said Nigerian youth are disempowered politically by the Nigerian state, lamenting the situation where those who are not up to 45 years cannot contest for the office of the president.
“Those who are not up to 35 years cannot run for the office of the governor. This shows that the youth have been sidelined,” Assobie said.
He said if people who are up to 100 years can contest, those who have attained the age of 18 should be allowed to contest.
“The youth who are between the age of 18 and 35 form the bulk of the population. So, if one attained the age of 18 should be allowed to contest any political position he or she so wish. In 2019, the youth can remove the obstacles themselves by mobilising demographic and the social media for what they want. The barrier between the right to vote and the right to be voted for should be removed. The minimum age for contesting an election should be 18,” the professor said.
Innocent Odoh, Abuja
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