Youngstars Development Initiative international Abuja, Nigeria with support from the NED – National Endowment for Democracy USA launched a new program called CANVASSITY Youth Democracy Fellowship after the successful retirement of DESPLAY Africa, Nigeria’s foremost and longest annual youth democracy program, conducted annually non-stop from 2005 to 2015. CANVASSITY Youth Democracy Fellowship Academy is designed creatively to increase youth capacity to effectively engage and support government institutions deliver impactful governance, raise efficiency and accountability.
44 African youths (33 males and 11 Females) visited Calabar, the capital city of Cross River State for the first semester between 23rd and 26th February 2016 at the Mirage Hotel, Calabar Cross River State, Nigeria with 43 Nigerian participants from 21 states from the six geo political zones of Nigeria and one international participant from Mosterrado, Liberia for the training. The theme for semester one was “Understanding Democratic Governance and Institutions”. During the sessions participants were trained on how to engage, visit and collaborate with government agencies to address social problems.
CANVASSITY semester two had a total of 35 participants (24 Males and 11 Females) from 17 different States across Nigeria and FCT Abuja, and 2 international delegates from Liberia. The second semester training workshop took place at the NBC Centenary House, 33 Lusaka Street Wuse Zone 6 Abuja, Nigeria from Tuesday 20th – Friday 23rd September 2016, Semester 2 theme was “Engagement Skills and Leadership Development”. The major objective of this semester was to help participants understand the concepts of leadership, and engagement skills that are required to visit, engage and collaborate with government institutions to address social concerns.
Components of CANVASSITY
Democracy Works Canvas (Artistic Illustration) – This is actually the brand/trademark of CANVASSITY, and the paramount activity expected from participants. Each participant is to work with a local artist to develop a drawing illustrating the social problem and create an ideal solution, and to present the drawing to the preferred government agency in the course of seeking collaboration. A total of 23 canvases capturing different issues were received.
Passing-it-On (PiOs) – It is a mandatory step down activity requiring every participant to converge and pass on what they have learnt at CANVASSITY to at least 40 youth in their place of residence. During the PiO, participants are also required to display their Canvas to their attendees. This activity is scheduled to happen within an 8 weeks’ time line, ending April 31st. 28 Pass-it-On (PiOs) were conducted and reported by participants with 1309 persons in attendance. One of the highlight of the PiO event was the coverage granted by Sokoto State Radio House (Radio Rima) to Anas Sanusi Gusau, a CANVASSITY delegate from Sokoto State, which reached hundreds of thousands of listeners, thus generating much interest in the CANVASSITY project in the region (North West).
Youth Engagement with Government- This component is truly the thrust of CANVASSITY, as it encourages participants to identify a government MDA and engage them with the aim of collaboratively trying to solve a social problem. Each delegate was to use his canvas drawing as the entry point and engagement tool. 20 participants engaged with different government MDAs in an attempt to solve problems identified with different negative and positive feeds from their experiences shared. Worth mentioning, 44 participants went on a half day internship in ten Government institutions during the first semester in Calabar as part of their Youth-government engagement training.
Community Outreach Events (Crow Pulling Events)- This is the activity that required delegates to look out for Crowd Pulling Events that will gather 300 persons and more, and display their canvas drawing as a way of creating more awareness and support for the problem they are working with government to solve. Most importantly, during the crowd pulling event, they will get people to sign a sheet with their names, number and emails supporting their campaign. 17 CANVASSIY delegates attended and leveraged on 19 Community Outreach Event reaching over 7,000 persons.
We finally broke the jinx after several attempt, the 2016 International Learning Visit delegates travelled to the United Republic of Tanzania. It was the first time our delegates are travelling out of West Africa. The delegates departed from Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, Nigeria on the 21st of August 2016 to Julius Ayerere International Airport Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and returned safely via same route on 26th August, 2016.
Although 19 participants that participated in the first semester did not meet up with the required activities to qualify them to attend the second semester. More so, 9 of the participants that qualified to attend the second semester could not make it due to unforeseen circumstances beyond their control. Nevertheless, we had 19 new participants that joined the second semester. On the third day (Thursday 22nd September 2016) of the training/workshop, there was a CANVASSITY exhibition where 13 students showcased their canvas drawings, and shared their experiences on engaging government with the public, and there was a courtesy/thank you visit to DAAR Communication Plc complex, owners of AIT- Africa Independent Television our media partner. The delegation was received by top management staff of DAAR Communication, including the MD, DAAR Communications PLC Mrs. Tosin Dokpesi. In other to highlight CANVASSITY participants’ projects activities to engage a broader audience, beginning from the first week of April 2016, Youngstars Foundation has produced and uploaded a total of 16 Episodes of CANVASSITY TV Series on her Online TV- Youth TV Africa capturing the experiences of CANVASSITY participants. The video skits gave voices to young people’s ideas about democracy, good governance and their contribution to nation building.