BEING THE TEXT OF SPEECH DELIVERED BY MR DAISI OMOKUNGBE, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PROMAD FOUNDATION AT THE PRESS CONFERENCE FOR THE LAUNCH OF A RESEARCH POLICY MEMO ON ACCELERATING YOUTH CIVIC PARTICIPATION AND DEVELOPMENT HELD AT PROMAD IN ABUJA, NIGERIA ON APRIL 4, 2023.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the press. Thank you for honouring our invitation to be part of this press conference.
PROMAD Infotech Foundation is a non-profit organisation combining evidence-based strategies with civic technology to bridge the gaps that exist between citizens at grassroots communities and the government to strengthen accountability, and participatory governance for efficient implementation of projects, programs, and policies for sustainable development. PROMAD, founded in 2022, is fully registered in Nigeria by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). We have the mission to empower state and non-state actors through evidence-based strategies and advocacy for accountability, participatory governance, and development.
At PROMAD, we believe in using data and technology to investigate and analyse development problems and proffer policy-related solutions to help stakeholders and government gain clarity on what must be done.
We invited you to be part of the official release of our research policy memo. In December 2022, with support from the LEAP Africa and the Nigeria Youth Futures Fund (NYFF), we commenced the implementation of the Accelerating Youth Civic Participation and Development in FCT (AYCP) project.
The project is a youth component of our Grassroots Advocacy Project (GRAP) that focuses on community needs assessment for budget making, enhancing citizens’ opportunity to nominate projects that meet the needs of their community into the budget. AYCP project attracted, educated and mobilised youth across the six area councils for civic participation such as in the 2023 general elections, collection of community and youth needs assessment data and empowered them to track projects in their communities to drive participatory and accountable governance in the pursuit of the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and #TheNigeriaWeWant.
In the last four months, we’ve engaged young people at community levels and held town hall meetings across the six area councils of the FCT. We conducted the survey on youth civic participation and development challenges through the deployment of our home-grown civic-tech needs assessment platform—https://grap.org.ng, targeting young people mostly at the grassroots, as well as qualitative interviews and observations made during town hall meetings.
All of these led to the production of this research policy memo.
The policy memo examines youth civic participation and development in the nation’s capital. Specifically, it assesses youth-related issues and groups the findings into three major categories—access to economic power; civic and political participation and inclusion; and youth and electoral violence.
Today, we are pushing out our findings and recommendations for stakeholders and the government to leverage in order to ensure young people’s contributions to the nation are well-channelled and harnessed. The policy document itemizes issues affecting youth civic participation in the FCT which spurred the participation of young people in the 2023 elections. This is part of our contributions to leading new policy advocacy for young people’s inclusion, and empowerment to play new roles in #TheNigeriaWeWant as a new administration will take off on May 29, 2023.
We engaged quantitative and qualitative data-gathering methods in the production of this policy brief. It reveals the problems young people are facing and, on the other hand, the opportunities the FCT and Nigeria stand to gain if we invest in young people.
The gender distribution of the respondents for quantitative data had 46 females, while the male respondents were 145. Out of these, 7 have no education; 3 have completed primary school; 49 have completed secondary school; 118 are graduates and 14 have completed post-graduate studies. Regarding respondent age ranges, 38 are between the ages of 18 to 24; 87 are between the ages of 25 to 31; 49 are between the ages of 32 to 39; and 17 are between the ages of 40 to 45.
Access to economic power
- 46% are unemployed as they formed the unemployed and dependants
- 26% are self-employed
- Only 28% are employed by the government, NGOs and private companies
On needs and their priorities in terms of a number of career, political, and other personal development goals:
- “Get a job” = 67 counts
- “Acquire or develop my skills” = 49 counts
- “Get scholarship opportunities” = 39 counts
- “Contribute to my community through civic participation” = 37 counts
- “Run for an office” = 5 counts
Civic and political participation, and inclusion
- 52.35% of respondents belong to a youth group involved in political participation and 51% of respondents belong to political parties. This shows that there is high interest.
- 82.72% of respondents have voter cards, and 86.38% of respondents know where to collect their PVC. This points to the high level of awareness and interest amongst young people.
- 75.91% of respondents voted in a past election and 76.43% of them would vote in 2023. According to INEC’s data on 2023 elections compared to the past elections, there was an increase in voters turnout in the FCT. However, they identified violence (the biggest challenge), corruption, high cost of participation and youth only meant for thuggery as barriers to youth participation. Violence was their biggest hindrance. This choice and feedback from the interviews strengthen the idea that young people view elections as the ultimate form of civic participation.
On dividends of governance and empowerment
83.24% of respondents said they’ve never benefited from government or lawmakers’ youth empowerment schemes. This means that there is a gap in service provision that ought to cater for the youth population. This evidence proves the sentiment of neglect expressed in the interviews.
On civic engagement
There is a wide disconnect between young people and elected officials. 76.96% of respondents have not engaged with NASS members or government agencies, this indicates that the youths do not understand or respect their responsibility to engage with the government. On the other hand, elected officials are also not engaging them as indicated by 88% of the respondents that are not aware and know for sure that no representative has organised a town hall or consultation session.
‘Less than 5″, “Not Aware ” and “None ” appeared a total of 506 times in answering questions that bordered on youth who were elected or appointed. Most respondents do not know or are familiar with less than 5 persons like them, in elected, appointed, or hold party leadership positions.
Gender inclusion and PWDs
There is a wide acceptance of women and PWDs inclusion with 90.05% of respondents supporting their inclusion in governance and leadership. No wonder, they elected a female senator for the FCT in the 2023 elections.
66.49% of the respondents are aware of violence in their communities. 51.83% of respondents (more than half) have been prevented from voting in past elections due to violence. 90.05% of the respondents believe the age range of those perpetuating the violence is between 18 to 35 years of age. With 42.93% of respondents alleging that Political Thugs were responsible for electoral violence which shows there is a prominent feature in the violence system and this should be taken seriously.
- Domestication of National Youth Policy—Nigeria’s National Youth Policy (NYP) is the central effort of the government aimed at addressing youth development and inclusion in the affairs of government and governance. As of this study, only Lagos and Rivers states have made efforts at domesticating the youth policy. The domestication of NYP will enhance the preparedness of states, and FCT, and even local government councils to further promote youth development.
- Empowerment schemes must address youth needs and priorities—As identified in this brief, the majority of the sampled youth said they’ve never benefited from empowerment schemes by their lawmakers and the government. Lawmakers and government agencies must be made to conduct needs assessments for the design of empowerment schemes before such are allowed into the annual budget for funding.
- Youth must be front and centre of their budget formation—Annual budgeting for the youth cannot be complete without the youth at the centre of the table. During our town hall meetings with youth across the six area councils, the majority complained about how the FCT budget is being done without their inclusion. They said they’ve never seen a copy of the budget for the territory, either in hard or soft copies, not to talk of being invited or consulted during the budget development process. There should be a budgeting framework that allows the youth to nominate the projects and programs they need according to their collective priorities in the budget. This alone is participatory, and inclusive and creates a sense of belonging and ownership.
- Young people must organise to pursue their cause—No one can fight the cause of young people like their critical mass coming together to pursue a common goal. The government and leaders understand that the youth are the majority, and with their numbers, they can achieve anything they want if and only if they come together and engage relevant authorities.
- Leave no youth behind–increased funding for education and innovation programs—A well-educated youth demographic is very important if Nigeria is truly interested in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and beyond.
As I conclude, the fact is that youth inclusion and empowerment would facilitate new ideas and solutions to fast-track development not only in the FCT but the whole country. This is particularly important as Nigeria is on the verge of a democratic transition from one democratically elected administration to another which will create new political changes, efforts must be directed at actual youth development not ‘frivolous budgeting’ for the youth.
Download the full report here