Study seeks affirmative action, reviewing parties to check low youth participation in politics

A new research finding has canvassed affirmative action, the rejuvenation of existing political parties in Nigeria among others, to increase the number of youth in politics in Lagos State.

The research also identified godfatherism, adultism, lack of proper information, financial constraints, among others as factors discouraging youths from participating in politics.

The research study titled ‘Youth Political Participation In Lagos”, was commissioned by Yiaga Africa with the support of UKaid.

The research was conducted by three academics from the political science department of Lagos State University (LASU), Sylvester Odion Akhaine, Surajudeen Mudasiru and Aisha Balogun.

The research finding stated that affirmative action by the government through the creation of specific positions for the youths in the hierarchy of public affairs would help to inspire them as successor generation.

It called for the creation of a ministry of youth at federal and state levels, noting that the government can move beyond this by creating specific positions for youths to facilitate their transition into mainstream governance in the country.

“Affirmative action by the government creates specific positions for the youths in the hierarchy of public affairs to inspire them as a successor generation.

“There are precedents in this regard. For example, governments at both federal and state levels in Nigeria have created ministries in charge of youth affairs.

“They can go beyond this to create positions that are dedicated to youth to facilitate their transition into the mainstream of governance in the country.

“More importantly, affirmative action should include freeing the youth from financial burden in the highly monetised electoral ecology that is Nigeria ”, the report stated.

The finding also revealed that the majority of the respondents expressed their participation in the political process at different levels such as voting during elections, participation in community development and a host of other activities.

Meanwhile, some youths have expressed displeasure with the political process.

However, the finding further shows that in measuring the level of participation, there was a general consensus that there was a participation problem in the political process caused by the attitude of the political class.

According to the finding, “Most of the respondents claimed that there was a deliberate attempt by the political class to shut out the youths from the process, owing to greed and corruption on the part of the political class.

“Some of the respondents also acknowledged the dominance of the political class in the political space. This, they do, by reproducing themselves with their children, friends and members of their families.

“This connotes the continuous isolation of youths from the political process. The trust of the youth in the political process has been eroded due to the actions and activities of the political class”.

The finding further shows that the inability of youths to access resources required to participate in the political process is one of the ways by which the youth are shut out of the process.

“Most of the respondents, including the participants in the Key Informant and Focus Group Discussion alluded to the fact that youths are shut out of the political process as they are barred from attaining certain political level within the political space, no matter the efforts of the youth”.

The problem of trust between youths and Nigerians at large exists in the polity and had played a significant role in discouraging participation in politics among young people in Lagos State.

“That trust does not exist in the polity. They alluded to failure of the government to protect lives and property of citizens; failure of the public officials to fulfill their electoral promises; failure of the public officials to fulfill their mandate and make available the dividend of democracy at various times.

“There is wide belief among the youth” the report further revealed”, the finding stated.

He added that the government should create positions dedicated to youth so as to facilitate their transition into the mainstream of governance in the country.

Presenting the research findings to the media and other stakeholders on Thursday, Sylvester Akhaine, professor of Political Science, bemoaned the growing influence of godfatherism in politics across Nigeria, stressing that dedicating positions to youth so as to facilitate their transition into the mainstream of governance was necessary.

The don further noted that youth do not need godfathers before they could participate in politics, rather, a mentor that could guide them in the right direction due to their experiences.

According to him, “It is one’s activities, commitment and participation that brings one out and makes one recognised and not the godfatherism thing.

He encouraged youths to be more committed and consistent in order to make way for themselves in the political affairs of the nation.

Akhaine also called on all stakeholders to free the youth from the shackles of political slavery through policy advocacy, planning and sound decision making.

“For example, the National Orientation Agency should impact the citizens in ways that can enhance political awareness and inculcate civic responsibility in them, “he said.

“Government should establish more agencies or structures dedicated to political socialisation.

“While at state government, l recommends promotion at the level of State Houses of Assembly, the ‘not- too-young- to-run law’ needs to be replicated at state level nationwide.

“Affirmative action should include freeing the youth from financial burden in the highly monetised electoral ecology,” the don added.

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Also speaking, Seriki Muritala, All Progressives Congress (APC) Youth leader, Lagos State, charged youth to follow people with remarkable track records for mentorship, stressing that though he was not in support of godfatherism in politics, the role of mentorship was necessary.

Muritala implored youth to stop demanding peanuts from politicians that do not mean well for them.

He encouraged them to be politically informed; otherwise politicians would treat them as blind ambitious youth.

“The youth must get informed and follow people with credible reports, “he said.

Emmanuel Olabisi, a member of the Obasa Youth Alliance urged youth to inculcate the idea of not being ready to fail, adding that they should be ready to take the bull by the horns.

He added that the current political climate was not friendly to the youth in the country.

Earlier, Ezenwa Nwangwu, Board member, Yiaga Africa, commended the research team for well detailed work, adding that the finding would help broaden democracy in Nigeria.

Nwangwu called for rejigging of youth organisations like the National Youth Council and the National Association of Nigerian Students.

Nwangwu, who is also chairman, Partners for Electoral Reform, tasked youths on making themselves relevant by taking responsibilities and making commitments to a course they believed in.

“They should stop following some politicians aimlessly looking for leftovers.”

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