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U. S. envoy, Nigerian artists task youths on democratic participation

By JosephOnyekwere (Deputy Editor)
10 February 2023   |   3:52 am
The American Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Molly Phee, Nigerian comedian, Ayo Makun popularly known as AY, BBNaija Season 5 winner, Olamilekan Agbeleshe, also known as Laycon and dancer, Kafayat Oluwatoyin Shafau, popularly known by her stage name Kaffy...

Phee

The American Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Molly Phee, Nigerian comedian, Ayo Makun popularly known as AY, BBNaija Season 5 winner, Olamilekan Agbeleshe, also known as Laycon and dancer, Kafayat Oluwatoyin Shafau, popularly known by her stage name Kaffy, yesterday charged Nigerian youths to bring the change they desire by actively participating in the democratic process.

They all spoke as members of a panel at an event organised by the American consulate, in Lagos, titled, “Youths involvement in Democratic process.”

Gift David, a presenter at the HipTV, anchored the event.

In her remarks, Phee reiterated that America would restrict visas for any politician who tries to undermine the democratic process, in addition to other valid sanctions.

According to her, Nigeria is very critical to Africa and America as a partner, which is the reason they are interested in a smooth transition process in Nigeria.

“We want to congratulate Nigerians and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and use this opportunity to say that the votes of Nigerians will count.

“Some are asking us who we are supporting, we don’t support any candidate, but supports free, fair and credible election as well as peaceful transition of power.

“You know the candidates better and should make the right choice yourself. The power is in the youths to bring the change they desire,” she declared.

In his contribution, AY explained that this year’s election is very critical about the survival of the country.

The youths, he said, are enthusiastic to make the change happen.

According to him, before now, Nigerian youths have been cajoled to believe that their votes do not count, but this year, a lot of youths are out, queuing to collect their PVCs.

He explained that Nollywood is doing enough to encourage youths participation in the democratic process.

His words: “We have had a good number of movies projecting that. Some celebrities in the entertainment industry do not want to declare whom they want to vote because they stand the risk of being redundant for the next eight years if the candidate they support didn’t win.

“I had an online platform where the presidential candidates were invited to speak to Nigerians on what they want to do. Only two people came because it is not easy to face the camera and take questions from across the world. Many predicted that some of them won’t come and they never came. The one that came faced barrage of questions from people, including a woman who cursed all the past leaders. So, we all must make our contribution to bring about the Nigeria we desire.”

For Laycon, there is an outrageous increase in the amount of nomination forms for the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from 2015 to 2019 and 2023.

He recalled that not-too-young-to-run bill was passed into law, which was supposed to provide opportunity for youths to join the race for elective offices, but regretted the humongous amount required to obtain the forms discourage the youths from participating.

“It seems that the political system is not going to allow you as a youth to participate in the election because you may not have the money to purchase the forms. Nigerian system is highly monetised. I believe that of PDP would have been increased too were they the ruling party. ‘’

“Apart from the system, we have the psycho-ideological problem. As individuals, we need to be selfless in our actions and build a sound collective identity.

“We need to change our mindset before we change the structures. The structures are not working. In Nigeria, you can’t get somewhere unless you know someone. So, you are perpetually indebted to that fellow and wants to follow him for that reason, not minding whether he presents what is good for the generality of the people.

“I suggest the youths should come together and possibly sensitise themselves and run for the elective offices at the legislature. If we get a lot of us that are like-minded, we can create our own political party and declare the form free. Nigeria is becoming low-key monarchy.

Godfatherism is our major problem. We need to know what we want as a country. The parties have no ideology. They are just interested in what goes into the pockets,” he lamented.

Also contributing, Kaffy said if “we want change, we got to do something different.”
The obligation to get things working is on the neck of every single Nigerian, she said, adding that if the youths are for each other, and be accountable, they will get an honest leadership.

“The youths have the power to force leadership to do the right thing. But if we are all complacent and waiting for Jesus Christ, that won’t happen. Your PVC is your power. The only reason any body wants to bribe you is because they know that you have the power to make the good change.

“The day I went to collect my PVC was one of my proudest moments as a Nigerian. Many showed determination to face the odds and get their PVC’s. Do not lose hope. Hope is like a rope, keep drawing it to the place you want to go. It is not about the large number, it is about enough number. We want a good number of Nigerians to have sense. We don’t need all Nigerians to have sense, because too much sense makes no sense,” she philosophised.