Hundreds of youths gathered on Monday at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja to discuss their roles in nation building and patriotism.
The national coordinator of #fixing Nigeria project, organisers of the summit, Ernest Nwosu, said the summit was necessitated by the need for active citizenship and to inform the youth of their immense powers to determine the future of Nigeria.
“Today we’ve kicked up a campaign called ‘#PowerCard’ and the campaign tells some much about power of PVC. A citizen with PVC is not just an active citizen, but a powerful citizen. So that when a citizen is not happy with a political leader, he simply puts his card to action. Voters registration is on so we want to encourage the youth to be part of it.
We have about 60million PVC holders in Nigeria but we have about 120million electorates. So, we want to see how we can get about 100million registered voters before 2019. We want to be able to decide who occupies political positions, no more one or two people sitting together to decide the fate of our nation.”
Mr. Nwosu also called on all concerned citizens to join the movement via www.powerfulcitizen.org.
He said that the summit was fixed on Democracy Day to show that the country has come of age politically to accord the youth relevance in the scheme of things.
“Today is the 18thanniversary of Democracy Day in Nigeria, any child that is 18 years old today can vote and can obtain driver’s license. The message we are taking to our political leaders is that: we are coming and we are standing tall to be counted. We must determine the process and be involved. We are not more waiting to be invited, rather we are getting organised to set the pace for the coming elections.”
He said #FixingNigeria Project was to bring youth together to discuss on nation building and patriotism, saying the youth believe leaders should be the one to decide how the nation should be built, not knowing that, they, being the major population should be one in the heart of the process and event in Nigeria.
“We want to raise active guys who believe in the future of Nigeria and send them out as ambassadors to their communities and start telling people no more buying votes, it’s time to empower visionary leaders.”
At the event, the European Union (EU) called on the Nigerian youth to be actively involved in the politics and leadership of the country, saying only Nigerians can solve the nation’s problems.
The Deputy Head of EU Delegation to Nigeria and West Africa, Richard Young, said outsiders can only make suggestions but the ultimate solution to Nigeria’s challenges lies with Nigerians. He stressed that youth have a great role to play in this regard.
According to him, the youth are the future and this fact is at the centre of next month’s joint meeting of the EU and African Union (AU) in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
“We think the young men and young women are the future of what we stand for both here in Nigeria and Europe. This is also what we will be discussing at the meeting of AU and EU in Abidjan.
“On the subject; ‘Fixing Nigeria, Sustainable Democracy and Imperatives’, it is only Nigerians that can solve their problem.”
The EU envoy while quoting the popular CNN anchor, Fareed Zakaria, said democracy is a “system marked by free and fair elections, freedom of press, rule of law, protection of individual rights and religion, association i.e. constitutional democracy.”
“It’s when these rights are abused that people resort to extremism to challenge an affront to their rights.”
Mr. Young however, noted that true federalism is one of the best structures of government best suited for a country like Nigeria to enjoy the full democratic values.
He cited a Noble Prize winner, Roger Milson, who postulated that, “Decentratlisation and democracy can improve governance.”
The keynote speaker, Ihua Elenwor, Assistant Coordinator, National Youth Summit, emphasised that Nigeria is not short of laws but citizens need to adopt values to move the country forward.
Without citizens, especially young men and women imbibing noble values of discipline, integrity, selflessness, patriotism and sound maintenance culture, hard work amongst others, even the best efforts of a leader will not have lasting impact on the nations, Mr. Elenwor said.
He said leadership is not as significant in nation building as the collective contributions of individual citizens, especially young Nigerians. In this modern era of democracy, citizens have more power and influence than their leaders in running the affairs of their countries, he said.
Idris Akinbajo, the Managing Editor of PREMIUM TIMES, made a strong case for strong working institutions which he said will checkmate the activities of public servants both young and old.
He also said public servants should be made to use public facilities.
Some youth activists, participants and panelists called for active mobilisation and active political participation of over 70 million youth in the nation’s leadership and democratic governance.
The hundreds of youth who stormed Yar’Adua Centre also demanded for open and genuine discussing on Nigerians future including the issues of restructuring and fiscal federalism.
One of the youth panelists and an executive official of Access Enterprise, Walter Okoye, noted: “The mind-set of depending on people to do something for them has permeated every facet of our youth. I think no matter what you do everyone should be involved in politics and youths make up of 70 per cent of the population.”
In the same vein, another youth activist and political researcher, Josephine Itoyah, called for a thorough prognosis into the country’s problem starting from how the various hitherto independent tribes and kingdoms were forcefully fused together to form the union.
Ms. Itoyah noted that failure to understand this and create a workable union amongst these naturally competing groups would present a huge challenge for leadership, democracy and good governance in the country
“Do we really understand what it means to create a state, being a country… what I see is different kingdoms being forced together … since then we view our country from our own enclaves and perspectives. This made us to think of what to get out of the country and not to contribute,” she remarked.