By Precious Akutamadu
Port Harcourt – Nigerian youths have been advised to get involved in credible elections in 2019 by acquiring their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and refusing monetary inducements.
Mr Chukwuma Okenwa, the National Coordinator of YouthDecide2019, an NGO, gave the advice in Port Harcourt on Saturday at a seminar on Understanding Processes and Civic Responsibility.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the seminar was organised for youths in the South-South Zone of Nigeria ahead of the 2019 general polls.
He said that it was an anomaly for young professionals to refuse to get involve in election and political processes.
According to Okenwa, young people who are eligible to vote should regard their citizenship of Nigeria as a right that should not be tainted by involvement in thuggery during elections.
He said: “They (youths) are not visitors. It is a privilege and a right to be defended at all times. Our first target is to get young leaders to understand their need expectation.
“We will get them talking about issues of politics and governance. They will thereafter take the message home and sensitise many more young people to get involved.
“They should not sit back and let the process continue as usual. They should ensure that the right things are done.
“They should be good ambassadors for Nigeria; actualise the principles of integrity and exercise their franchise as citizens.”
He said that the group’s focus at the moment was not merely for young people to contest but having credible individuals vying for those political positions whether they are young or old.
“To me it is not just enough to have free and fair elections because the freest and fairest elections can only produce those from the options that are available.
“We should have credible alternatives who distinguished themselves in any particular field and are capable of taking this country from where it is now to where it ought to be.
“This country belongs to all of us. You cannot be talking about good leadership without talking about good citizenship. A citizen is not a visitor.
“Citizens understand their rights and privileges which include ensuring that his nation gets to the next level and ensuring that Nigerians at home, schools and wherever they find themselves can actually be good,’’ Okenwa said.
Mrs Geraldine Ekenebo, representative of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the occasion, said that beyond complains, Nigerian youths who are eligible should be involved in election processes.
“It is not INEC staff that will snatch ballot papers or election materials, you will not see candidates or elderly people snatching election materials. It is the youths.
“You can make the changes right from your polling booths. Get your PVC. It is the passport to the future that will be the beginning of your change narrative.
“Come out and vote, encourage others to do so. Do not sell your voters card. Avoid double registration, it is a criminal offence, shun violence and thuggery,’’ she said.
The INEC official also urged Nigerians to get involved with political party structures by registering as party members in order to also effect changes even at party levels.
Besides, she advised young people to encourage others to come out and vote to enhance the “Not Too Young To Run Bill’’ .
She also assured that the Continuous Voters Registration would endure until 60 days to the 2019 election.
Mrs Ifeyinwa Amucheazi, a Chief Programme Officer with the National Orientation Agency (NOA), also called for a value orientation and attitudinal change among youths so that they could stay off violence.
“Be involved in politics because you have a stake. Register, cast your vote and stay to monitor your vote,’’ she said.