Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, RED | For Africa, Adebola Williams has underscored the importance of youth participation in politics in the trajectory of leadership change throughout Africa and Nigeria in particular, in order to birth a paradigm shift and shape a brighter future for governance across the continent.
The Nelson Mandela Washington Fellow who disclosed this in an interview with online blogger and columnist; Mark Amaza late Wednesday, stressed that with a voting population of 51% youth and the incorporation of technology and social tools into the nation’s electoral process, it is without a doubt that a new “grassroots” is being curated that would make it inevitable for the pendulum of power to shift.
Citing the performance of music star, Bankole Wellington at the recently concluded National Assembly elections under a new party (Modern Democratic Party) and the exploits done by a host of other youth including the 28-year-old party Modern Democratic Party chair, Bukunyi Olateru-Olagbegi who emerged runner-up ahead of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate at the same election in Ondo; the wins of 31-year-old Sports bookmaking entrepreneur, Akin Alabi as a federal legislator for Oyo under the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), 26-year-old Bob Otobong of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as member representing Nsit Ubium State constituency at the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly amongst others, Adebola noted that the aforementioned development has indeed sent a strong message.
From his wide range of experience on elections in Africa working in a number of countries, the political consultant who did a post-mortem analysis of the February 23 and March 9 elections, explained that the 2019 elections had similar patterns and stark differences with the last 2 general elections (2011 and 2015 polls) and he harped on the importance of instituting changes in the way elections are organised in the country, as the human elements in Nigerian elections create room for too many issues and doubts.
“Several nations across the world have moved to e-voting. Our neighbours in Senegal even do diaspora voting. The human elements in our elections creates room for too many issues & doubt. Electronic voting cuts “middlemen” & more. We would then as a nation also need to run mass education campaigns in the right language and on the right platforms nationwide, to familiarize the people and rebuild their trust massively in the process,” Adebola explained.
In drawing a parallel with the February 24 Presidential election held in Senegal where his elections and governance consulting company, Statecraft Inc. worked for the re-election of the incumbent president Macky Sall, he said:
“The idea of getting at least a 50,000 signatures to get your name on the ballot paper is most brilliant as it narrows sharply the candidates and saves a plethora on the ballot papers. Limits confusion and campaign distractions.
Elections in Senegal was devoid of violence. In Nigeria, it’s necessary that the motivation for violence is removed and security agencies do more in ensuring safety of life and property to reduce apathy.”
He, however stated that there is a real thirst for change and only if citizens will step up and begin to shape the future they desire in the awareness that the power really is in their hands, as such awareness is under heavy attack.
“Everyone of us who can awaken the
#OfficeOfTheCitizen is needed now more than ever,” he noted.
On the motivation for writing the book
#HowToWinElectionsInAfrica, which he co-authored with his partner Chude Jideonwo, Adebola noted that having actively worked on two elections in Nigeria, the Ghanaian presidential election in 2016, and an in-depth look at other African elections during the period, he noted that they realized that citizens across the continent – from “the Gambia, Seychelles, South Africa, Kenya, Liberia, Senegal, to Rwanda are finally coming to terms with the fact that they wield the powers to elect, to impeach and generally demand accountability.”
“The book explores how citizens can uproot the power structures by drawing parallels from within and outside Africa to map a future where the political playing field is level and citizens can rewrite existing narratives,” Adebola explained.
He further recommended the book for a step-by-step guide to everyone who desires to put their hands on deck in awakening citizens to the reality of active participation in politics at the grassroots level.