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“Our ask is that you fulfill your promises to young Nigerians, especially on job creation because we are losing out on so many outstanding Nigerians who are emigrating. I’ll be passing out of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in a few weeks and my question is, “what next? Sadly, that’s the reality of millions of young Nigerians” – Wadi Ben-Hirki, a ONE member.

Wadi Ben-Hirki (centre), a ONE member during a meeting with Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on the Vote Your Future campaign.

On July 2nd, 2019, a delegation of young Nigerians who played active roles during the #VoteYourFuture campaign, was led by the Nigeria Director of ONE in Nigeria, Mrs. Serah Makka-Ugbabe to a meeting with Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja.

The purpose of the visit was to share the #VoteYourFuture campaign journey with the Vice President and present him with the Youth Declaration which was signed by over 67,000 Nigerians.

The #VoteYourFuture campaign was a youth led governance campaign which brought together young people from across Nigeria for the nation of our dreams. It was about voting for a candidate based on policies and not on religious or ethnic affiliations.

It began with citizens

In early 2018, ONE in partnership with UNICEF ‘s U-report polled over 170,000 Nigerian citizens across every state to find out what issues mattered most to them with the 2019 general election in view.

The results were clear: more than half of Nigerians participating in the poll (56%) hoped that the incoming government would address the issue of job creation. This was followed by corruption (14%), education (10%), healthcare (9%), agriculture (6%) and lastly other issues (4%). This trend was generally consistent across all regions, age groups and genders.

This was useful in creating two products that played vital roles during the campaign. The first product was a policy report that helps citizens understand some of the critical challenges that we face as a nation as well as the possible solutions, and the second was the Youth Declaration – our petition language to create the change we desire.

Nigerian citizens engagement to discuss issues that mattered most to them with the 2019 general election in view.

Creation of the Youth Declaration

In June 2018, Ten ONE Champions were selected from across Nigeria with at least a Champion from each geopolitical zone, to draft the Youth Declaration. The Youth Declaration is an inspirational and aspirational piece that reflects the need for government to create more opportunities for young people by making strategic investment in infrastructure, healthcare, education, agriculture and the fight against corruption. Also, the declaration speaks about the role of young people as key stakeholders in nation building.

After drafting the Youth Declaration, it was tested with focus groups across different geo-political zones, religions, genders and backgrounds. This exercise was carried out to make sure the content of the declaration reflected the reality and aspirations of young Nigerians like Nomda from Abia who wants to solve a problem by starting a business after NYSC, and all she needs from government is an enabling environment for her startup to thrive.

Champions from each geopolitical zones, drafting the Youth Declaration.

We engaged citizens and aspiring leaders across Nigeria

On October 20, 2018, about three thousand young people from across Nigeria gathered in the nation’s capital; Abuja to launch the #VoteYourFuture campaign, with a strong message to Nigerian leaders that “We are the Future, and the future is now”. We were joined by famous faces including, rapper and actor Falz, actress Bisola , singer and actor Banky W, media personality and host of Big Brother Naija Ebuka Obi-Uchendu and journalist Laila Johnson-Salami

Because we were determined to make our voices heard in every part of Nigeria, ONE Champions and members took #VoteYourFuture on the road, leading panel discussions and debating policy issues in Gombe, Enugu, Kwara, Kaduna, Osun and Cross River states.

While some ONE volunteers were engaging with thousands of young Nigerians on the road, others were pushing via the digital platforms. ONE partnered with TRACE Naija, and Enough is Enough, Nigeria to air a series of interviews with five of the Presidential Candidates who signed the Youth Declaration. Young Nigerians, including ONE Champions, interacted with the candidates about their policies.

ONE Champions and Members engaging with Presidential Candidates.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

At a meeting with ONE delegation in Abuja on July 2nd, 2019, the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo received the Youth Declaration on behalf of the Government of Nigeria and promised to create more opportunities for young people in the next four years. He also encouraged young people to promote national unity irrespective of the political, ethnic or religious divisive narrative that is promoting a dangerous undercurrent of national division. He also encouraged youth to continue to hold our leaders accountable.

We have sent a strong message with the #VoteYourFuture campaign that Nigeria’s youth are fed up with empty promises and are ready for bold changes. We have made our voices heard. Now, we are determined to work with our elected officials to build a Nation where every citizen in every part of Nigeria leads a life of dignity and opportunity.

Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo received the Youth Declaration on behalf of the Government of Nigeria.

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