By; PATIENCE GAPKONG, Kaduna
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in it’s effort to ensure that no interest group is left behind during Electoral activities, while re-structuring prior to 2015 General Election created a unit to oversee the activities of some stakeholders – youth group, women group and persons with disabilities ( PWDS).
CSO Desk Officer, INEC, Kaduna, Sakina Tukur emphasized this while speaking at an interactive dialogue with youth on “Political Awareness for the Youthful Aspirant” on Thursday in Kaduna, organised by League of Democratic Women (LEADS).
“Of particular notice are those that have been participating or following the commissions activities and can testify to the fact that, there has been tremendous improvement in the relationship between these groups and the commission which led to positive improvement during the conduct of 2015 General Elections. the aim of the commission is to even make it better in future electoral engagements,” she said.
She said besides the special unit INEC creates awareness for youthful aspirants ahead of elections.
“The Commission creates awareness among various groups through the following : 1. Technical support in terms of advice and training on electoral matters. 2. Periodic meeting and workshops for enlightening and information Youth Groups about Electoral process and how they can participate. 3.Producing and distribution of handbills, pamphlets and brochures on Electoral matters for more awareness on Youth aspirants to participate in elections,” she added.
The CSO Officer said that a desk officer is assigned for all these important tasks and she is glad to inform that the commission has conducted familiarization visits to the various office of CSO’s/NGO’s and youth groups in and around of Kaduna metropolis.
“For the purpose of indentifying the credible ones among them, the exercise will continue with time so as to give the commission an idea of which these groups to partner with in future engagements.
“This will pave the way for the commission to achieve its aim of carrying all stakeholders along,” she disclosed.
On who is a youth, she said that the United Nations, for statistical purpose defines youth, as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24years, without prejudice to other definitions by member states.
“However, Nigeria’s 2001 National Youth policy classified youths as “persons of ages, 18 to 35years, who are citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“This category is said to represent the most active, the most volatile, and yet the most vulnerable segment of the populations socio-economic and emotionally sentiment among other respects. These group of youth could be found along the following clusters of classifications: 1. Students 2. Corps members 3. Artisans 4. Athletes 5. Musicians 6. Politicians 7.CSOS/NGOS 8. PWDS 9. Security Agents,” she explained.
On how youth can be engaged during elections, she listed three phases and how each affects youth.
“There are three phases in the electoral cycle. There are: The pre-election, the election and the post-election phase. The youth groups and indeed other stakeholders can be engaged in the all three phases of the Electoral cycles. 1. Pre-election phase: Electoral Reform: They can form vanguard groups that will advocate for youth friendly electoral legal regime such as what youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement ( YIAGA) is doing. They can also advocate for affirmative action within the party structure and implementation of youth policy in election,” she advised.
She listed roles they can play in the other two phases as follows:
“Election Phase 1. Accredited INEC poll officials 2. Accredited Party Agents 3. Accredited as Electoral Observer 4. Accredited Journalists 5. Accredited Security Agents 6. Voters Educators 7. Electorate 3. Post-Election Phase 1. Accredited Election Petition Tribunal Observe 2. Post Election Review or Audit Creating.”
INEC appreciated the contributions of various stakeholders who have stood tirelessly by it morally, financially and physical to contribute to its success.
The forum was supported by ActionAid Nigeria and attracted youth from all over Kaduna State.