Nigerian Youth Host Twitter Conference to Review the Constitution
Last week, 100,000 people participated in a twitter conference to review Nigeria’s constitution. The e-conference was the second such event organized to mobilize and encourage young people in Nigeria to share their views and deliberate on proposed amendments to the Constitution.
Organized by the Youth Alliance on Constitution Review, the twitter conference empowered Nigeria’s youth to provide input on reports presented by the National Assembly. For two hours, youth from all over Nigeria identified gaps and made suggestions on effective lobbying and advocacy strategies to influence the constitutional review process.
The innovative idea to mobilize youth through social media first began in August 2012, with a twitter conference titled, “The Nigerian Constitution: Our Right, Our Future.” The e-conference successfully welcomed over 50,000 participants to create awareness and educate young people on the constitutional review process. To publicize the event, the group reached out to youth in Nigeria using mostly twitter and facebook.
Below are a few of the initial observations and recommendations made last year:
- The constitution review process presents a unique opportunity for government to address the socio-economic and political challenges confronting young people (eg. unemployment, poverty, poor education infrastructure, youth restiveness etc.)
- The present constitution review process does not recognise the critical importance of engaging young people.
- The following factors contribute to the heightened political alienation and marginalization of the youth; the inability of the constitution to define the youth age, lack of independent candidacy and the lack of full franchise.
- The National Assembly and state legislatures should ensure adequate information is given to the general public in order to increase the value of citizen’s participation.
- Affirmative action clauses to address historical discrimination and injustice against women should be inserted into the constitution.
- There is a great need to fully devolve power between the Federal government, state and local government through constitutional amendment.
- There should be a clause definition defining the youth age in accordance with the African Youth Charter, National Youth Policy and Nigerian Youth Manifesto.
From the first conference, “[we learned] that young people want to take [an] active part in the decision making processes that affect their lives,” reports Rotimi Olawale, one of the moderators to last week’s conference. “But youth lack many things including an understanding of such decision making processes and access/platforms to air their views in a manner [where] their views can reach decision makers. We tried to increase our awareness strategy for the conference by mobilising different youth organisations to be a part of it. However, as Nigeria is a huge country, it is almost impossible to inform and involve all young people.”
Credit: Youth Alliance
Nevertheless, with an impressive 100,000 accounts reached during the twitter conference, the Youth Alliance is planning on compiling the views expressed to “inform the next level of engagement with members of the National Assembly” in Nigeria.
To read the report compiled after the first twitter conference, you can check it out here.