Sponsored by the International Forum for Democratic Studies
at the National Endowment for Democracy
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, National Endowment for Democracy
with comments by
Senior Director, Africa Program, National Endowment for Democracy
With nearly half Nigeria’s population between the ages of 18 and 35, young people represent one of the country’s most promising assets. Yet despite limited progress in strengthening youth engagement in recent years, young men and women continue to be left out of decision-making processes. The failure to draw this energetic and innovative sector into the work of democracy and development can have serious implications, as evidenced in Nigeria’s northeast, Middle Belt, and Niger Delta, where armed insurgents recruit alienated youth, offering them a strong sense of purpose and financial compensation.
In his presentation, Abdulrazaq Alkali provided an overview of the state of youth activism in Nigeria today. He surveyed the steps being taken to:
- engage youth,
- identify barriers to their participation, and
- offer recommendations to increase their involvement in decision-making processes.
His presentation was followed by comments by Dave Peterson.
Mr. Abdulrazaq Alkali is executive director of the Youth Society for the Prevention of Infectious Disease and Social Vices (YOSPIS), a nongovernmental organization that promotes civic education and peace-building initiatives among youth in Nigeria’s Kano state. For over a decade, Mr. Alkali has directed projects that seek to enhance local government transparency and accountability through voter education, election monitoring, public oversight of local budgets, and the political mobilization of youth. During Nigeria’s 2011 general elections, he led a civic group that assisted voters in assessing political candidates’ platforms and in supporting a transparent election. As a paralegal, he has offered legal counsel to youth and other vulnerable groups. During his fellowship, Mr. Alkali is identifying ways of promoting the participation of young men and women in Nigeria’s democracy, with recommendations for civil society organizations, schools, neighborhood initiatives, political groups, and other institutions at the local and national level.
Mr. Dave Peterson is senior director of the Africa Program at the National Endowment for Democracy.