Written by Ere-ebi AGEDAH

U.S. envoy harps on youth participation in politics

United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. W. Stuart Symington, has urged young people to ensure that their votes count in the next election through active participation.

The ambassador noted that Nigeria is a primary strategic partner of the United States in Africa, as both nations share wide-ranging mutual interests, adding that there was hope in Nigeria that the 2019 general elections will be free, fair, transparent, and peaceful, with results that reflect the will of the people.

Symington, while expressing concern of underrepresentation of young people in the electioneering process, stressed the need for young people’s participation in politics.

‘‘In past years, young people have been underrepresented in the electioneering process, leading discussions on social media but not coming out to vote in sufficient numbers. Imagine Nigeria at the World Cup with only five players on the pitch while others sit on the bench analyzing the game. That’s how it is when young people choose not to be involved in the process of selecting Nigeria’s leaders.

‘‘As Nigeria votes in 2019, it’s up to you to make it count, the year 2019 marks 20 years since Nigeria transitioned into a stable democracy. Over the last two decades, the world has watched each election cycle as Nigeria has strengthened its democratic institutions.

‘‘In any democracy, the development of the electorate itself is equally important to the development of institutions. It is with the foregoing in mind that I write to you today. So with election season around the corner, I encourage you lead the way for young people to play their part in civic life. As a part of this campaign, together we can boost voter participation among youth, promote voting with integrity, encourage truth and accuracy in information-sharing, speak out against hate speech, and inspire communities to reject violence,” he said.

He noted that ‘‘Democracy is much more than elections, elections are a key component of democracy. For those who took time and effort to register for your PVC, it is and effort for you to show your commitment to electoral participation and your support for the country.’’




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