The centrality of election to popular participation and representative governance cannot be overemphasized. It is the mechanisms through which citizens choose their representatives. However, due to the win at all cost syndromes, elections in Nigeria are usually marred by violent conflicts. At the centre of these violent conflicts are the youth that makes up about 63 percent (60 million) of all the eligible voters.
This capacity building workshop which was attended by representatives of government ministries, politicians, youth leaders, members of the academia and media, representatives of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the representative of Search for Common Ground- Nigeria is part of the activities designed by the organization to foster peaceful 2019 elections in Nigeria.
The Honourable Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Oyo State, Hon. Abayomi Oke who delivered the opening remarks and declared the workshop open welcomed all participants to the event. The commissioner while speaking charged participants on value-reorientation and the need for the youth to properly activate their roles for the socio-economic and political stability of our nation.
The Keynote Speaker, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN) who was represented by the Managing Partner of M.A Banire and Associates, Barrister Kunle Adegoke advised Nigerian youth to dedicate their efforts towards ensuring that there is a change in the way we do things in our society, especially during elections.
Barrister Kunle Rasheed Adegoke, who is also a gubernatorial aspirant in Osun State, advised Nigerian youth to shun money-induced voting, so as to enable them to enthrone ready-to-serve individuals who by all means are ready to serve the country and push it to the desired destination. While pleading that youth get their voters card, Barrister Kunle urged Nigerian youth to start campaigning against godfatherism, money-induced voting, and barbarism in Nigeria’s political space, suggesting that youth change their thinking and their consciousness to have a better Nigeria.
Mr. Oladayo Ogunbowale, a media consultant and USIP Generation Change Peace Fellow, whose facilitation centred on “Combating Hate Speech During Elections”, said hate speeches are utterances, typed documents, advertorials, musicals or any form of literature that are used to attack an individual, a group – religious, social, political, business – gender or race.
Mr. Oladayo made known that various mass media outlets in the country have failed in their social responsibility to the society. He opined that the television was used to propagate various hate speeches during the 2015 general campaign in Nigeria. “The various mass media in the country have over the years, turned to propaganda tools in the hands of politicians and powerful people in the country, rather than tools for nation-building.”
While cautioning Nigerian youth to shun hate speech and sharing of unverified information, advised that through simple Google search, information can be verified in some cases. He, however, suggested that Nigerians should shun the habit of sharing as received as some use this to incite clashes online and offline.
Mr. Mathias Yake, Early Warning Coordinator at Search for Common Ground-Nigeria who facilitated on “Early Warning and Response System: Youth as Electoral Violence Observers” charged youth to be of good conduct during elections, clarifying that election observers must be peace-loving and be interested in peace in the community. He stressed that youths should be alert and knowledgeable about peace and conflict issues in their community beyond election time.
The event which was held at the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan came to an end with participants renewing their resolve to ensuring that 2019 elections and beyond are peaceful and promise to take the message of peace to their various locality.
Director for Media
Nigeria Youth4Peace Initiative