The National Youth Colloquium on State of Governance in Nigeria held at the conference hall of Kanem Suites, #41 Ajose Adegun Street, Utako, Abuja on the 25th May, 2016. A total number of 101 participants from 26 States across Nigeria including the FCT were in attendance.
During the event, three (3) panel sessions took place with panelists drawn from youth led civil society groups, political parties, and government agencies. Also, there was a break out session during which participants were asked to identify and discuss 2-3 youth and governance priorities and the practical actions youth can contribute over the next 12 month. To crown the day was the debate session on the topic “One year of the present government in office, has the state of the youth improved?”.
At the end of the program, a communiqué was developed by participants to voice their position on youth priority areas they want government to consider in the next 12 Colloquium Communique and Working Document 2016months.
OUTCOME FROM PANEL SESSIONS
Panel 1: Democracy and Public Governance from a Youth Lens: Challenges, Opportunities and Next Steps.
Panelists were drawn from civil society groups, political parties and government representative. Sola Fagurosi alleged that the present government were unable to properly and effectively communicate its programs and policy to Nigerians and the alarming rate of job lost which majority of the audience agreed. More so, Priscilla Obaifor, also made mention of deteriorated nature of the economy. Ifeoma Malo spoke on the removal of the fuel subsidy and paucity of fund that necessitated it removal. While Samson Itodo drew the attention of the audience to growing disobedience of court orders and disrespect for the judiciary, which portents a great danger to upholding the rule of law in a democratic setting and the frosty relationship between the executive and the legislature in the last one-year which has also hampered the pace of governance, including the 2016 Budget Appropriation. Most importantly, Myani Bukar agreed to some extend that there is a communication gap between the government and the citizenry, and he also said the present government underestimate the enormity of the problems.
Panel 2: Youth Political Participation in Nigeria: Challenges, prospects and Next Steps.
All panelists were politicians except Donald Unanka who is a person living with disability (PLWD). Tanko Yakassai said one of the major limitation gap for youth participation in politics are age limit and finances, however he said some youth are already making progress in that regard, like the speaker of kaduna state house of assembly and a federal house of representative in Bauchi state who are both below 35 years. Donald Unanka highlighted the demography of (PLWD) Persons with Disability who represent a huge demography that are still being alienated due to the absence of a legislation to guarantee their fundamental right to participate. Most of the audience who are youth commended the fight against corruption of this administration. However, there is a perception that the anticorruption campaign is one sided. Ifeanyi Aniagoh said the President needs to demonstrate high trust in the youth capacity by appointing credible and competent youth into his cabinet and other key positions which the audience agreed and the agitation for a reduction in the age to vie for high political offices. While Ms Kato elaborated on the challenges facing female in political participation and the lack of support from the female gender as well.
Panel 3: Nigeria 2016 Budget Appropriation – Implication and Windows for Youth Development.
Idayat Hassan from CDD kick started the session by stating on how citizen can get involve in budget monitoring and evaluation, she also said an average Nigeria youth is not well informed about the Constitution and the National Budget and so cannot effectively engage government and demand accountability. While Abiola from Budgit gave an extensive analysis on how Budgit collect, analyse and publish their data for citizen consumption and where youth can find what is being allocated in the budget for them. However, Charlse Olufemi said there is so much focus on the Federal Government, whereas youth need to focus more on state and local government for accountability and transparency. He further, said an average youth are just interested in what the can get during elections instead of thoroughly examining candidates and voting for the persons with credibility and competence during elections.
The general feeling among the audience is that they should make the effort to have a copy of the national, state and local government annual budgets and track government projects that are captured in the budgets so that they can hold government accountable at all levels and the process of recall for non-performing elected legislature was also emphasized.