By Friday Idachaba, Lokoja
Dr Hale Gabriel Longpet, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Kogi State has described political socialization and participation among youths as very crucial for the attainment and conduct of peaceful, free, fair, credible and transparent elections in the country.
Longpet disclosed this while speaking at a one-day capacity building and town hall meeting on “Promoting Youth Political Participation and Election Security in Kogi State, Ahead of the 2023 General Elections” on Tuesday in Lokoja.
The programme was organised by Lugard Youth Development and Empowerment Initiative (LYDEI) in collaboration with LEAP Africa with support from MacArthur Foundation and Ford Foundation.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner said that youths constituted the second-largest population of the 93 million voters in this country, trailing women slightly adding it was commendable for youths to show enthusiasm in the election process.
The REC observed that the often negative appendage attached to young people was gradually waning off saying, “there are lots of young people today who have become part of the electoral process either as participants or political actors themselves while you have parties like Young Peoples Party (YPP).
“That is enough indication for us to know that the youths have become very essential in our political process and the emergence of any leader is to a large extent, dependent on the involvement of politically active population”, Longpet explained..
He urged the youths to be guided by the fact that they have a stake in the process adding that as future leaders, they should be involved with the present to be able to prepare for the future.
On the part of INEC, he said that the Commission, with the collaboration of Civil Society Organisations had introduced various ways to ensure that the electoral process was plain, fair, inclusive and credible.
He said that this disposition of INEC and relevant stakeholders led to the deployment of technology with the introduction of the BVAS machine “so that every time election is done, there is a semblance of transparency that people can verify.”
HAMZA Aliyu, Executive Director Initiative for Grassroots Advancement (INGRA)in “An overview of the electoral act 2022” said that the meeting was organised to make the participants physically and politically aware and to galvanize their engagement in the political process.
He said that the organizers were able to pool resources and young persons in that age demography together to create the awareness and prepare them for effective engagement the elections in line with the new 2022 Electoral Act.
“It is very important that all stakeholders who want to engage the system be able to do that from informed point of view, meaning that they need to know what the rules are and what responsibilities all stakeholders have during the election proper.
In his welcome address, Mr Aminu Oseni Okwutepa, Executive Director, LYDEI said series of engagements had been conducted by the organisers on the election project and commended INEC for strictly following its timetable of activities for the election.
He said that the meeting was part of the broader effort to promote youth political participation and secure free, fair, and credible elections in Kogi state.
Okwutepa appeal to the youths to conduct themselves peacefully during and after Election, shun Electoral Violence before, during and after elections and come out to vote on the election day and cautioned them against selling or buying of votes.