ONE Champions at ‘Vote Your Future’ Youth Summits

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We took #VoteYourFuture on a road-trip across Nigeria ahead of presidential elections in February 2019. Young people, determined to make their voices heard, led panel discussions, debated policies and signed the Youth Declaration – calling on candidates to invest in Nigeria’s youth.

Here ONE Champions tell us about their experiences at the Youth Summits.

Olasupo Abideen, ONE Champion, at the Youth Summit in the North Central region of Nigeria. 

Olasupo Abideen welcomes people at the University of Ilorin.

Olasupo Abideen welcomes people at the University of Ilorin.

Over 2000 people attended the pilot summit at University of Ilorin auditorium, Kwara state with a lot of active participation among and beyond the student community.

We had a panel discussion consisting of Senior Lecturers, Student Leaders, Community developers, and Civil Society Organisation founders. Although billed to appear, we reached out to security chiefs in the state; but they were unable to attend.

Our volunteer force consisted of over fifty well articulated and organized students who had clearly defined roles and worked creatively to ensure the success of the event. My team was coordinated by a volunteer, who was also a student of the institution. The LOC enjoyed the support of the University of Ilorin Students’ Union government who helped in reaching out to members of the university administrative and academic community

While many would easily write off the New Nigerian project, the VYF summit proved amongst other things that the future of Nigeria is still very much a viable discussion, and the youths are more than ever prepared to steer the affairs of the nation. We hope, in spite of academic impediments, that we would get more youth voters across the nation for the forthcoming General elections. 

Hadiya Usman, ONE Champion, at the Youth Summit in the North East region of Nigeria.

Hadiya Usman

Hadiya Usman

I was excited to be part of the VYF Summit, which focused on gathering youth in the region to dialogue and exchange ideas, raise awareness on issues to consider when electing leaders and educating students on the importance of participating in the presidential elections.

Through a series of panel sessions, oral presentations, and other activities, we were able to reach out to about 2000 young people, ensuring that the objectives of the event were met.

Even more exciting was that over 80% of attendees signed the youth declaration, committing to voting based on key issues and to hold their leaders accountable. The major tertiary institutions were all represented. The event also saw the participation of two young contestants for different positions in the state.

I was glad to see the esteemed Serah Makka-Ugbabe, the ONE in Nigeria Country Director, ONE Champions representing Adamawa and Yobe state, and student leaders from various institutions. Learnt a few things from the panelists and keynote speakers, CEO Hill crest Technology, Ahmed Magem and Abdulkadir Abubakar, an academician at Gombe State University who spoke about a variety of Issues affecting the young generation regarding elections and youth participation in Politics and the community. 

ONE Champion, Rosemond Edem, at the Youth Summit in the South South region of Nigeria.

Rosemond Edem, ONE Champion, welcoming participants at the University of Calabar, Cross River State.

Rosemond Edem, ONE Champion, welcoming participants at the University of Calabar, Cross River State.

Volunteers and ONE Champions were gathered as early as 7.30am to set up the venue and handled logistics like the decoration of the stage, setting up registration tables and the green carpet, as well as the technical aspects of the event. It was so much fun!

We were then briefed on what was expected of us to make the event a success and roles were assigned with last minute checks put in place to ensure the smooth running of the event. The event finally kicked off in record time with ONE branded t-shirts and pens, given to the first 200 people.

I gave the welcome address which was followed by a wonderful spoken word performance by a ONE volunteer. The University Librarian told us to be wary of our actions because they can have very dire consequences on our tomorrow.

Panelist discussions were centered on what the elected government should focus on, what criteria to use to vote in the elections and what, about Nigeria, we’re most hopeful about. Also taking into consideration the challenges youth face as concerns job creation, education, health, etc. It was an interactive session as attendees had the freedom to express their views and ask questions related to the role of young people in governance and leadership.

We were all eager and ready to exercise our rights at the upcoming elections voting based on issues. With 470 participants at the venue, 507 declaration cards were signed both at the venue and during publicity. 

                            
ONE Champion, Ebere Chukwu, at the Youth Summit in the North West region of Nigeria.

Ebere Chukwu

Ebere Chukwu

As the 2019 general elections approaches, and preparations, rallies and campaigns are going on all around the country, candidates of various political parties have been on their toes lobbying for votes from all parts of the country. Engaging in various debates, trying to prove that they are well able to move the country forward with their strategies if given the chance.

53% of the Nigerian population are youth. And we are saddled with the responsibility of carrying out our civic responsibility by voting and also, putting the right candidate in the presidential seat as our future largely depends on it.

The primary aim of the Vote Your Future Campaign is to galvanize youth participation in the 2019 elections and sensitize the  youth to vote based on key issues that build Nigeria, not based on ethnicity, religion or other sentiments. A lot of young people do not see voting as a civic responsibility. And some of the few who do, may not have enough knowledge about issue based voting. From drafting the youth declaration to the Launch of the VYF Summit, young people’s opinions were sought to capture key issues that affect us as a nation. And those issues were put into a declaration that call our leaders to action.

The VYF North-West, aimed at capturing youths around Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Kaduna states to sensitize them about youth engagement in the election process and how their voices can be heard if they lend it to a just cause. All north-western states were represented at the event with about 700 young people from all walks of life in attendance. 

Find out more about the #VoteYourFuture Youth Summits.

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