Felix Ijem, Nsukka

An economist and public policy analyst, Chinwe Okoli has described the youths as critical assets to national development, saying that the large population of young people in the country gives them added advantage over others in achieving a collective goal.

Okoli, who is Manager, Roar Hub and Lion Science Park, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, called on youths to maximize the power of the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ law recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, to contest for public offices and be part of governance and in decision making.

She made this known during a town hall meeting organised by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) AFRICA with support from the Ford Foundation at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, with the theme: ‘Promoting inclusive governance for development.’

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While delivering a lecture titled: ‘Not Too Young To Run Bill: Journey so far and the implications for the youth,’ Okoli said “One of the barriers preventing youth from participating in governance now which is age limits has been removed through the signing of this law.

“Now they can participate not just by getting voters cards but also registering with parties and attending meetings, interact and share ideas.

“That is how we can get ready and do better and be part of the process and articulate something meaningful.”

In her opening remarks, the host and Convener of the event, Chinemerem Onuorah, said “the aim is basically to sensitize them about the role they have to play in governance mainly to get them ready for the party primaries approaching.

“I intend that at the end of it, they are ready to get their voters card and vote wisely and that those who think they can, contest for any political position.”

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She, however, identified the challenges facing youth interested in running for political offices as “Support, basically. I think the older leaders are reluctant to relinquish power, and the younger ones also don’t trust other younger people seeking power.

“They keep thinking it should not be now, but the movement’s slogan says ‘if not you, who? If not now, when? And this I believe is valid. The youth need support to run,” Onuorah said.

Earlier, in his keynote address, Ekene Onuorah, Manager, Masterweb Solutions, said youths needed to prepare in order to take leadership roles when they come calling by acquiring skills, attending seminars and studying trends in the political space as they unfold.

Onuorah’s words, “Preparedness meeting opportunity brings perfection. But when opportunity meets unpreparedness, the outcome is usually catastrophic.

“With this strong hope that the political hurdles that meant youth are always excluded from active participation in politics are removed, I urge every youth in Nigeria to do whatever it takes to improve one’s self by acquiring the intellectual capabilities needed to get into leadership positions.”

A cross section of participants at the event shared their thoughts on the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ law and how youths could actively get involved in governance.

Emmanuel Uzochukwu, from the Department of Economics said “this initiative is wonderful given the figures of the youth which is dominant. Trying to include them in governance is necessary.

“But it is about implementing the bill and not the passage. The youth have the challenge of facing this reality because it is a function of the resources they have to run for elections.”

According to Ndudu John, “We need to maximize the potentials of the Internet which I believe is the greatest invention of all times.

“We need to take our future into our hands by taking decisive actions on participating in governance,” he said.