2023: Why Nigerian youths must take Senate President Lawan’s challenge as invitation to sweeping reforms

In addition to fighting for an end to police brutality and extra-judicial killings, another critical issue that was prominently discussed during the #EndSARS protest was the high cost of governance with negative implications on socio-economic development.

The outrageous salaries of lawmakers, amongst other things, led young Nigerians to call out the government to overhaul the entire system.

The youths made their voices heard, sparking various reactions from the political class. On Friday, during a retreat for top management staff of the National Assembly and National Assembly Service Commission in Abuja, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, reacted to the youth’s agitation for positive change in governance. 

Expressing concerns about proposals to scrap the Senate, the lawmaker said it could result in anarchy while challenging Nigerians who have expressed displeasure in the 9th Senate to vote them out in 2023 if they don’t like their faces.

Indeed, the responsibility rests on the shoulders of young Nigerians to vote sweeping reforms ahead of 2023. Electoral reforms are the way to go and it is long overdue in a system where the outrageous cost of governance has placed the citizens in a position where they have no access to basic social amenities such as good road infrastructure, quality education, quality healthcare, steady power supply, etc.

What are we to expect in a country where the administrative cost of governance far outweighs funds allocated for developmental projects? This is really pathetic.

The situation calls for holistic reforms which would involve a long term campaign to remove all obstacles that often mar the outcome of Nigeria’s elections including electoral malpractices, procedural inconsistencies, logistical deficiencies, political violence, etc. These are some of the issues that contribute to elections that lack integrity.

It is a problem that must be treated with urgency as we look forward to the 2023 general elections because “… elections without integrity cannot provide the winners with legitimacy, the losers with security and the public with confidence in their leaders and institutions. This makes polities fragile as it encourages disgruntled groups to find other, less constructive, channels for the expression of their discontent” – Kofi Anan Foundation.

As part of the solutions to securing our mandate, the youth must push for Hybrid voting that combines a plurality/majoritarian voting system which makes room for different electoral formulas for different regions. 

Independent candidacy should also be advocated, to enable independent or non-partisan politicians who are not affiliated to any political party to run for a political office of their choice. This will also impact on the huge cost of pursuing party nominations.

Diaspora voting should also be allowed to prevent disenfranchising Nigerians abroad. The #EndSARS protests have shown that we have a huge population of young people that should not be left out of decision making. Age limit should be reduced for elective offices and a quota has to be allocated for youthful representation in the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

It is also important that a town hall meeting be held to address the problematic issue of the high cost of governance. The government should also consider the sustainability of a bicameral legislature and the possibility of adopting a unicameral legislature to help cut down the cost of governance to make room for accelerated socio-economic growth for the collective good of all. 

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