Abuja, Nigeria – The Youth Alliance on Constitution & Electoral Reform (YACORE) and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA) will be representing Nigeria at the AU Youth Consultation to the High Level Dialogue on Constitutional Order and Rule of Law in Africa scheduled to hold in Dakar, Senegal on 23rd – 24th November 2013.
The Youth Consultation will be followed by the Second Session of the Annual High Level Dialogue on Governance Trends in Africa where YACORE National Coordinator and YIAGA’s Head of Research, Policy & Advocacy, Samson Itodo is expected to make a presentation on “Emerging Trends in Constitutional Reforms in Africa: Youth Perspectives. He will be on the panel by Dr Alex Magaisa, Kent Law School, University of Kent; Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, Director of the Centre for Democracy & Development and Ms. Atsango Anyango who are expected to share experiences on constitutional reforms in selected African countries. The High Level Dialogue will also feature a presentation of the 2013 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG).
In commemoration of the year-long golden jubilee celebration of the African Union (OAU/AU) with the theme “Pan Africanism and African Renaissance”, the issue of strengthening constitutional order and the rule of law was identified as an appropriate and timely theme for the 2013 High Level Trends Consultation. In recognition of the critical need to streamline the concerns and perspectives of young people into the discourse on Constitutionalism and Rule of Law in Africa, the Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission facilitated National Youth Consultations across countries in Africa. Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), Youth Alliance on Constitution & Electoral Reforms (YACORE), Youth Hub Africa, www.blcompere.com (a social media for social good focused blog) and Know Your Constitution Initiative of the Constitutional Rights Awareness and Liberty Initiative (CRALI) led the national youth consultation in Nigeria.
The country-level consultation presented an apt opportunity for young Nigerians to x-ray emerging trends of Constitutionalism and Rule of Law in Nigeria which illuminates the flagrant abuse of power by public office holders, disregard for the rule of law, abuse of human rights, absence of public accountability etc. The National consultation was hosted on virtual and offline platforms in the first week of November 2013. The online consultation was conducted on facebook and twitter. Notably, the twitter consultation recorded a total of 167,000 accounts with the hashtag #YouthConsultation while the facebook consultation was hosted on @YIAGA fan page with over 8,400 likes. The physical Consultation was conducted in Abuja on Wednesday, 6th November 2013 with over 60 young Nigerians from diverse youth groups in attendance.
The National Youth Consultation on Constitutionalism and Rule of Law in Nigeria provided a platform for young Nigerians to critically assess the trends, challenges and prospects of Constitutionalism and Rule of Law in Nigeria. Speaking on behalf of the consultation facilitators, Cynthia Mbamalu YIAGA’s Research & Programs Manager stated that a prosperous society is firmly held by strong pillars of constitutionalism and rule of law because it promotes positive trends of peace, good governance, security, fundamental rights and social justice. She strongly opined that the youth have a major role to play in promoting constitutionalism and rule of law and ensuring that leaders are accountable to the people.
Goodwill Messages were delivered by Mr. Rotimi Olawale (Representative of the African Youth Panel), Comrade Jude Imagwe (Special Adviser to the President on Student and Youth Affairs). The Keynote Address was delivered by Dr. Tunji Olaopa, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth Development. In his address titled ‘What do the youths want? Youth Charter and Constitutionalism’ he advocated for constitutional reforms that remove exclusionary clauses restricting youth from electives offices.
The consultative Technical Plenary Sessions had a rich faculty comprising of Prof. Chidi Odinkalu (Chairman National Human Rights Commission), Leonard Ugbajah (Legal Practitioner), Prof. Sam Egwu (United Nations Development Programme, UNDP), Dr. Fatima Akilu (Office of the National Security Adviser), Nana Nwachukwu (Gender Advocate/Legal Practitioner), Eze Nwagwu (Chair, Partners for Electoral Reform), Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu (Chief Technical Adviser, INEC), Ifeyinwa Okadigbo (Gender Advocate), Bukhari Jega (Youth Alliance on Constitution and Electoral Reform, YACORE). The plenary sessions which focused on issues like; “Promoting Constitutionalism and Rule of Law”, “Human Rights and Security”, “Leadership, Governance and Accountability” and “Elections and Youth Participation” translated into Syndicate Groups Session. The Syndicated Groups Session provided an opportunity for in-depth debates. The consultation evolved with recommendations articulated into the country-level youth position paper that will be presented at the youth consultation in Dakar Senegal.