A Civic Engagement Activity by Abayomi Oke, 2023 EPLF Cohort Fellow
There is the need to promote the quality of life of the people through both political and non-political processes and that is why Civic engagement is pivotal to addressing issues of public interest.
In alignment with the Civic Engagement pillar of the fellowship, and with the generous support of the LEAP Africa and Nigeria Youth Futures Fund, Abayomi Oke, an esteemed Fellow of the 2023 Emerging Political Leaders Cohort, successfully convened a gathering of stakeholders from the Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government in Ogun State. This meeting was convened to deliberate on the pivotal role of Nigerian youth in the nation’s building process.
The primary aim of this initiative was to foster a profound and holistic understanding among participants about their vital roles in the nation-building process. The ultimate goal was to empower and inspire them to become proactive and engaged citizens, instilling within them a profound sense of responsibility and purpose in the governance of their nation.
During the event held in Ota, we had a distinguished panel of speakers, including Comrade Adeleke Adebanjo, the immediate past Chairman of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), and Mercy Anih-Bello, the Founder of Dream Code Africa. Abayomi Oke, the event’s convener, skillfully moderated the discussions. The panellists, in their respective contributions, elaborated on how Nigerian youth can actively contribute to nation-building. Comrade Adeleke passionately encouraged young Nigerians to engage in politics, emphasizing that every average Nigerian youth should align with a political party to become a formidable voice and force within the political landscape. On the other hand, Ms. Mercy illuminated the potential of social entrepreneurship in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She advised participants to select one of the 17 SDGs and proactively address it. Dream Code Africa, for instance, has focused on SDG 4, which pertains to quality education, and has made significant strides in that area.
The event drew an impressive gathering, with more than 89 participants in attendance. Notable figures who graced the occasion included the Chairman of the Local Government, who was represented by his Aide on Youth and Sport, Comrade Dahood Ojugbele. Also in attendance were distinguished community leaders, such as Pastor Adekunle Edagbemi, Chairman of the Sango Ota Community Development Committee, and Alhaja Maryam Alabede, her counterpart from Agbara. Among the event’s esteemed guests was Comrade Adeshola Afariogun, the convener of the Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Citizens Engagement Platform, and the presence of the Executive Director of the African Foundation for Environment and Development (AFED) added to the event’s significance. The event was further enriched by the presence of Samuel Adebayo, a young social entrepreneur and Green Climate Advocate. Distinguished participants also included Rev. Francis Ubaka, Chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Awori District, and several other youth stakeholders, including members of the Rotary Club of Mende Creatives.
The event served as an eye-opening experience, with many participants expressing a newfound interest in understanding their political representatives and leaders in depth. Following the event, there was a noticeable surge in the participants’ enthusiasm to delve further into the workings of the political institution. Moreover, the participants were introduced to an ongoing civic initiative within the Local Government, which involved the compilation of a Citizens Charter of Demand. They were actively encouraged to participate in this endeavour, and the online form necessary for this purpose was efficiently shared with them by the convener.
Recognizing the essential importance of consistently involving citizens, particularly the younger generation, in understanding their responsibilities and duties, we have made the commitment to conduct similar activities on a quarterly basis. We firmly believe that as citizens become more enlightened, our nation’s progress will accelerate accordingly.