Youth Empowerment Solutions (YES) Project Initiative, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) on Sunday said it would set up a support fund for political aspirants among youths ahead of 2019 elections.
Executive Director of the group, Mr Precious Oche, made this known at a news conference in Abuja to commemorate International Youth Day, with “Safe Spaces for Youth’’ as theme.
Oche said that with the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Act, the stage had been set for youths to vie for elective positions and participate more actively in Nigeria’s democratic process.
According to him, the issue of godfather in Nigeria’s politics is a great challenge for youths to grabble with and if not addressed, will limit youths in 2019.
He said that YES was aware of the challenge, and that it was the reason it would reach out to its partners to get support for youths vying for elective positions.
“We don’t want one godfather somewhere to sponsor someone and then start demanding that 50 per cent of whatever is in the office must go to him.
“As a youth-oriented organisation, we believe that there is no better time to create safe spaces for youth than now, especially in our political environment.
“Youth needs safe spaces where they can participate in decision-making processes and contribute meaningfully to the democratic process that engender good governance, equity, justice and respect for human rights.
“They need the space to freely express themselves, where they can maximise their potential and opportunities and where they can dream and pursue their dreams to the point of actualisation. ‘’
Oche said that youths were faced with many challenges, especially unemployment which if addressed, would lead to productivity rather than vices.
He said that youths were in the majority in Nigeria’s close-to-200 million people, adding that the 2019 elections was an opportunity for them to exercise their civic power.
He urged youths to collect their voter cards, vie for positions and also elect credible leaders into office.
The director said that the organization was committed to supporting more youth candidates with character and leadership quality to vie for positions.
He called on youths to eschew violence or actions that could lead to conflict, urging them not to be part of those heating up the polity or used as instrument of violence.
He said that for a long time politicians had viewed youths as tools of violence and employed them for their selfish political gains, but that it was time for youths to do the right thing.
Oche said that the organisation would embark on a massive campaign and hold leadership conferences in the six geo-political zones through its “News Nigeria projects 774”.
This, he said, was to sensitise youths on their rights and to change their mindset, especially against the “get-rich-quick” mentality which was responsible for all vices, and to equip them on electoral processes.