COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE POPULA (PROMOTING OPEN PARLIAMENT FOR UPSCALING LEGISLATIVE ACCOUNTABILITY) PROJECT DIALOGUE SERIES ON SETTING THE AGENDA FOR YOUTH INCLUSION IN PARLIAMENT, A PROJECT ORGANISED BY THE NETWORK OF PARLIAMENTARY MONITORING ORGANISATION (PMOs) HELD AT MARYAM HAL, HAWTHORN SUITES, ABUJA ON WEDNESDAY 19TH APRIL, 2023
National Parliaments play a crucial role in any democratic dispensation of a country. This is because they are looked upon as directly connected to their constituents and closest to being able to represent their interest by passing laws and making legislative interventions for their welfare and well-being.
To this extent, the desire of citizens is that Parliament should be transparent and accountable to them being the custodian of their collective mandates. However, experiences have shown that often these expectations are not in tandem with reality. Parliamentary activities and operations are sometimes shrouded in secrecy, ambiguities, and opaqueness.
This state often leads to citizens’ distrust in Parliament and thus erodes confidence in their representatives. The low level of citizens’ trust in their parliament at the national and state levels is largely as a result of poor access to legislative information, low citizen inclusion, and a lack of accountability as well as transparency in the Nigerian Parliament.
The POPULA Project dialogue series with the theme: “Setting the Agenda for Youth Inclusion in Parliament” held on 19th April 2023 at Hawthorn Suites, Abuja. It was organized to stimulate conversation on the role of the legislature and youth inclusion in parliament with the aim of improving legislative accountability and transparency. The dialogue drew participants from various sectors of society, including subject matter experts, the organised civil society, the media and members of the National Assembly.
RESOLUTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
After a series of goodwill remarks, panel discussions and presentations from Hon. Dachung Musa Bagos, Member representing Jos South/Jos East Federal Constituency, Plateau State, Kingsley Atang of Youth Alive Foundation, the following resolutions were reached:
- States that are lagging in adopting and implementing the National Youth Policy are enjoined to domesticate the same.
- We call on the 10th National Assembly to prioritise speedy passage of the National Youth Development Fund Bill to ensure a legal framework for implementing the National Youth Policy.
- In addition to having functional constituency offices, lawmakers should increase their digital presence to facilitate accessibility, engagement and legislative accountability.
- Provision should be made for the representation of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) at the State and National Assemblies in the next round of constitutional amendment.
In conclusion, setting the agenda for youth inclusion in parliament is crucial for the promotion of democracy, diversity, and quality representation. The active involvement of young people in the political process can help ensure that their perspectives and concerns are taken into account and that policy decisions reflect the needs of all citizens.
To achieve this goal, it is essential to create opportunities for young people and PWDs to participate in the political process, including voting, running for office, and engaging the parliament. Parliamentarians can also take steps to increase youth representation, PWDs, etc.
In the words of Maulana W Khan, “no nation can ever hold up its head far less take pride of place amongst the nations of the world, if the individuals of which it is comprised, think of nothing but personal gain and self glorification.”
Senior Programme Executive, OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative
African Parliamentary Press Network (APPN)
Greater Tomorrow Initiative