Prof Attahiru Jega, former Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, has told the youth to stop complaining about bad leadership if they cannot take part in political process. He said young people needed to take active part in governance and electoral process by volunteering and standing for elective positions.
He said incompetent people with impracticable ideas would remain in public offices if young people continue to be indifferent towards electoral system.
The former INEC boss spoke while delivering a keynote lecture at an event organised in honour of former Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof Rahmon Bello, and former Bursar, Lateef Ojekunle, at the Julius Berger Hall of the university.
The lecture titled: Volunteers in the Nigerian electoral process: Challenges and prospects, was organised by the UNILAG Muslim Community (UMC) in collaboration with the Muslim Ummah of South Western Nigeria (MUSWEN).
Jega said INEC needed to develop mechanisms to help young people maximise their experience in participating in elections. He said there was need for contribution of youth-led civil society groups to promote volunteering.
He said: “People who have goodwill, passion and commitment make sacrifices to make immense impact on the society. The youths are imperative in contributing to the integrity of our electoral process.”
Noting that the United Kingdom (UK) model has the highest number of youths volunteering for elections, Jega said Nigeria needed a strong volunteering devoid of partisan tendencies.
He said there must be screening and assessment of volunteers in order to achieve integrity in national elections.
“Credibility of civil societies to participate in electoral activities should be encouraged on a large scale.
Integrity of election depends on the integrity of the people coming in to volunteer in making the process free and fair,” he said.
He urged members of the academia to assist the system of elections in the country through studies of empirical objectivity and credibility. He said social scientists needed to advance studies that would aid planning of elections.
He said: “Our professors and dons need to work assiduously to bridge the gap in knowledge, complaints, suggestions and recommendations on how elections can step forward. Research is fundamental in achieving this, as well as policy advocating in electoral reforms.”
He extolled what he described as “apparent evidence of commitment” to elections by civil society groups through volunteering in the 2015 general elections.