Direct primaries will boost youth participation in governance, says Gbajabiamila

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Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep Femi Gbajabiamila, on Saturday said direct primaries for political parties would enhance the participation of youths in politics and governance.

Gbajabiamila said though the National Assembly had passed the Not Too Young to Run Bill, it still did not create an enabling environment for the youths.

He spoke at an event to mark the National Children’s Dialogue to mark the 2021 Universal Children’s Day organised by his office in collaboration with the Children Of Africa Leadership And Values Development Initiative (CALDEV) in Abuja.

He said young people through their exploits at home and abroad had shown that they could hold their own in any arena and must be supported to achieve their goals.

“There is a raging debate today on whether primaries of political parties should be direct or indirect. That debate continues but what people do not understand is that that debate is not about the immediate. It is actually about the future. Because we are here to celebrate the young ones.

“For these young ones, there are those who are also interested in politics and governance and who might be interested in participating which is what democracy is all about. Our position in the House of Representatives which I champion without any fear of contradiction is that everybody must partake in governance and everybody must partake in our democracy.

“The National Assembly passed the Not Too Young to Run Bill, which as I keep saying, is a bill on paper, a paper tiger. Which does not give room or create the enabling environment for those who we celebrate. Politics is all about numbers. Then the young ones in Nigeria who constitute 60 per cent to 70 per cent of our population surely should have a place. A seat at the table.

“The young men and women of Nigeria have the capacity and potential to attain greatness. Surely an enabling environment must be created for them. How does this tie into the practice of the primaries of parties? It means a young man with bold ideas can actually look into the future, can actually come out and say I want to run for state assembly. I want to be the governor of this state. These are my ideas. Give me the opportunity. That opportunity is created by direct primaries, not indirect primaries.

The Speaker commended the Board and Management of the Children Of Africa Leadership And Values Development Initiative (CALDEV), led by Rep. Bamidele Salam, for initiating the dialogue series.

“Our future is not set in stone. Whether as individuals or as a collective. Our tomorrow is a consequence of today’s choices. Of all the decisions we must make today there are none more consequential than those we make about investing in our children,” he said.

Speaking earlier, Salam explained the purpose of the project was to build exemplary children with all the qualities that would lead Nigeria to become a truly great country.

Children and participants from various schools and bodies featured in the dialogue and a series of other events lined up for the day.

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