The Future Project’s National Symposium for Young and Emerging leaders is just 10 days away and as this year’s symposium leads into an election year, there is an urgency in this year’s theme to galvanize young Nigerians into taking their power as an group to sway the elections seriously. The only truly legal way they can do this is by registering for and collecting their permanent voter’s cards and deploying those cards during the elections to register their displeasure with certain candidates. But do we really understand what kind of power we wield, and do we know how to mobilize from the grassroots and deploy this power? Chioma Chuka intends to find out when she moderates the ‘Election 2019: are Nigerian Youths prepared?’ panel.
This is a critical question that calls for constant re-examination. So many questions like, ‘Can we count on the present generation to lead our country?’ and ‘Are the youths really ready? How prepared are young people? What are the challenges militating against active participation of young leaders in government? Now that the ‘Not Too Young to Run’ bill is only waiting for the ascent of the President to become law, how do we ensure that young people take the opportunity of the bill and begin to contest for public offices? It is one thing to remove the constitutional impediment to young people’s participation in governance, but how do we measure their preparedness to take on the political space? How will they deal with the issue of social capital, name recall, and even finance?
There are few people with as much experience with mobilizing women to embrace new opportunities as Chioma Chuka Agwuebo. The media strategist founded the non-profit Tech Her after working in many of the most important news rooms in the country (including YNaija). She understands implicitly the importance of creating safe spaces for women, in tech and other spheres of human interest and will be bringing the panelists to task.
But really if there’s anyone with the experience to whip us into shape and get us prepared to change a government, it is Samson Itodo, Executive Director Of Youth Initiative For Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA Africa). Itodo was one of the spearheads of the #NotTooYoungToRun movement, a coalition of young Nigerians in politics who pressured the Nigerian senate and the federal government into preparing and passing a bill that lowered the official age required for a person to contest in public office, opening the doors for younger Nigerians to take a serious interest in how their constituencies are governed. The beauty of the #NotTooYoungToRun movement was the scale of its impact in contrast to the number of people actually involved in the campaign. Itodo is bringing that insight and that victory to the panel and who knows we might have a few more revolutions yet in us, before the 2019 elections.
Mmanti Umoh, the president of the Entrepreneurial women’s network of Nigeria, and a public policy professional brings her years of covering African stories for the Huffington Post and several other international publications to the panel. With experience in organizing women’s led forums like #SheVoices and The Purple Connect, she brings a distinctly female bent to the conversation. She also started TeenNation, a forum geared towards reaching teens, that is currently trying to get 1 million girls coding. Mmanti’s insight on these often ignored groups is incredibly important considering on panels like this, women’s issues are often ignored in favour of the majority and even when they are brought up, they are either discussed without the necessary nuance or trivialized altogether.
Grassroots campaigner and CEO of CODE, Hamzat Lawal and Ife Adebayo close out the panelists for the sessions, both well known for their grassroots activism and their commitment towards ensuring that young Nigerians have the necessary information they need to vote adequately. This is especially true of Follow The Money, the non-profit organization that tracks government allocations for senatorial projects and reports on their statuses and whether the money invested in these projects were properly used.
The 2019 elections will be quite the event, we need all the preparation we can get.