INEC on Thursday urged youth ambassadors to increase awareness of the commission’s resolve to conduct transparent elections in 2023 and to sensitize youths against violence.
Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Outreach and Partnership Committee, made this remark while declaring open a Capacity Building for INEC Desk Officers and INEC Youth Ambassadors (IYAs) in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was organized by INEC in partnership with European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), and Yiaga Africa with the theme: “Implementation of the INEC Youth Engagement Strategy (YES)”.
Ogunmola said INEC’s YES document had received a lot of inputs in a series of engagements and validation meetings with youth groups, government institutions, development partners, and other stakeholders across the country.
He said the document would give support to INEC’s youth focal activities in a sustainable manner, saying it would help to enliven youth awareness and enlightened participation in the electoral process.
According to him, the meeting for the first line implementers of the strategy is to equip them with adequate knowledge, needed to ensure effective implementation of the strategy to the benefit of youths in particular and the commission at large.
“Significant barriers to youth political participation occur at different areas, which can be structural, individual, or organizational. Importantly, election-related violence has a negative impact on youth participation in elections.
“INEC as a responsible institution is committed to addressing the challenges faced by young men and women as an important and dominant segment of the society and voting population to promote their increased participation in the electoral and decision-making process of the country.
“This gathering is to improve the way we do things as desk officers, pay detailed attention in order to avoid failure, and enlighten our youth ambassadors to implement the strategy.
“You are, therefore, expected to design and work in line with the vision and mission of the commission and its commitment to ensuring an inclusive process,” Ogunmola said.
In her remarks, Mrs. Blessing Obidegwu, INEC Director, Gender and Inclusivity, who called for enhanced voter education for youths, said the participation of young people in politics was crucial.
Obidegwu said there was a need to boost voter education nationwide with an emphasis on youths ahead of the 2023 elections.
“This will reduce considerably, if not eliminate the ignorance in the electoral process as well as ensuring active participation by all eligible citizens irrespective of gender.
“Youths are eager for change because the world depends on them. Young people should be encouraged to unite and to become the change they want to see in the world.
“This demands high-level internal cohesion and organization by the youth, positive mindset reorientation on the political process, sensitization on youths’ political rights and responsibilities.
“It also demands advocacy for greater political inclusion in the leadership and political space of the nation,” he said.
In his goodwill message, Mr. Hamza Fassi-Fihri, Project Coordinator, ECEC, commended INEC for its youth policy in ensuring that youths were better engaged in the electoral process.
“Over the years, INEC has shown tremendous commitment toward the growth, development, and substance of democratic tenets in Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking, Mr. Alex Cole-Ibeh, one of the representatives of INEC Youth Ambassadors said that INEC’s performance at the Nov. 6., Anambra governorship election, sent a signal that the commission meant well to deliver credible elections.
Cole-Ibeh said that all young Nigerians were asking was for INEC to increase confidence in the electoral system ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Also speaking, Mr. Uti Nwachukwu, INEC ambassador winner of Big Brother Africa season five, said the ambassadors have huge tasks in the build-up to the 2023 general election.
Nwachukwu, also a style icon and TV personality, urged all stakeholders to improve transparency at the polls.