Demystifying "Age" in Nigerian Democracy: B3B Tackles Opportunities and Barriers to Youth Inclusion in Governance
On the 10th of September 2021, Beyond Three Billion – Nigeria (B3B-NGN) successfully launches its virtual event entitled “Does Leadership Have an Age?” which aims to spark a critical conversation on youth-responsive and youth-inclusive governance in Nigeria. The panel of speakers includes Zainab Haruna, Kunle Lawal, and Great Owete — all of whom are experienced young professionals and governance enthusiasts who bring dynamics perspectives to inclusive policymaking. With attendees from various regions in Nigeria and some participants from other countries, the conversation advocates for a shift in the way “youth participation” is perceived and practiced in Nigeria.
Kunle Lawal explains that governance has no age and no gender, and that mentorship is a critical form of support to get young people to partake in leadership. He also highlights that the African culture of respect for older generations, though implicit, has an effect on the way young people are treated in governance. On the other hand, Great Owete recommends moving from having conversations on youth inclusion to taking concrete actions. He emphasises that while leadership has no age, governance has, and that young people must translate their desire for change into knowledge to bridge this gap.
“The question is not about whether young people participate in politics, but about how their participation is done.” – Zainab Haruna
In a courageous attempt to distinguish mere participation from involvement in decision-making, Zainab Haruna points out that young people should occupy seats of decision-making instead of being used as “tools” in the electoral process. She accentuates various barriers to participation such as the exorbitant costs associated with running for public office and the need to address political literacy among young people.
Indeed, the programme sparks crucial questions on how youth participation is perceived, practiced, and supported in Nigeria, and across the world. Moving forward, the B3B Nigeria team is keen to engage more young Nigerians in its future projects that endeavour to veer away from bland activities and use direct approaches in getting decision-making seats for young people.