PROMAD Foundation, a civic tech organisation, has said government empowerment schemes for youth in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) must be designed to meet the priorities of young people.
Daisi Omokungbe, founder and executive director of PROMAD said this at a news conference on Tuesday in Abuja.
The organisation in a research policy memo on the “Accelerating Youth Civic Participation and Development in FCT (AYCP) project”, said there is a wide gap in service provision that ought to cater for the young people in FCT.
According to the founder, the policy memo is a product of four months of research in the nation’s capital with support from LEAP Africa’s Nigeria Youth Futures Fund (NYFF), funded by Ford and MacArthur Foundations.
“In the last four months, we’ve engaged young people at community levels and held town hall meetings across the six area councils of the FCT. We conducted the survey on youth civic participation and development challenges through the deployment of our home-grown civic-tech needs assessment platform—https://grap.org.ng, targeting young people mostly at the grassroots, as well as qualitative interviews and observations made during town hall meetings. All of these led to the production of this research policy memo.
“The policy memo examines youth civic participation and development in the nation’s capital. Specifically, it assesses youth-related issues and groups the findings into three major categories—access to economic power; civic and political participation and inclusion; and youth and electoral violence.
“Today, we are pushing out our findings and recommendations for stakeholders and the government to leverage in order to ensure young people’s contributions to the nation are well-channelled and harnessed. The policy document itemizes issues affecting youth civic participation in the FCT which spurred the participation of young people in the 2023 elections. This is part of our contributions to leading new policy advocacy for young people’s inclusion, and empowerment to play new roles in #TheNigeriaWeWant as a new administration will take off on May 29, 2023.
“83.24% of respondents said they’ve never benefited from government or lawmakers’ youth empowerment schemes. This means that there is a gap in service provision that ought to cater for the youth population. This evidence proves the sentiment of neglect expressed in the interviews”, Mr Omokungbe said.
He said findings revealed that 46 per cent of the respondents were unemployed as they formed the unemployed and dependants and 26 per cent were self-employed as only 28 per cent were employed by government, NGOs and private companies.
On youth needs and priorities, he said the majority of the respondents were looking for opportunities to either “get a job” or “acquire or develop their skills” or “get scholarship opportunities” and as well contribute to their communities through civic participation.
He added that the policy document identifies barriers hampering youth participation.
“75.91% of respondents voted in a past election and 76.43% of them would vote in 2023. According to INEC’s data on the 2023 elections compared to the past elections, there was an increase in voter turnout in the FCT. However, they identified violence (the biggest challenge), corruption, high cost of participation and youth only meant for thuggery as barriers to youth participation. Violence was their biggest hindrance. This choice and feedback from the interviews strengthen the idea that young people view elections as the ultimate form of civic participation”.
The organisation called for the domestication of the country’s National Youth Policy by the subnational government to fast-track youth development and empowerment.
“As of this study, only Lagos and Rivers states have made efforts at domesticating the youth policy. The domestication of NYP will enhance the preparedness of states, and FCT, and even local government councils to further promote youth development”.
“empowerment schemes must address youth needs and priorities—As identified in this brief, the majority of the sampled youth said they’ve never benefited from empowerment schemes by their lawmakers and the government. Lawmakers and government agencies must be made to conduct needs assessments for the design of empowerment schemes before such are allowed into the annual budget for funding”.
Other recommendations include the creation of participatory budgeting frameworks that would allow the young to nominate projects and programmes that meet their needs into the annual budget; youth organising their causes and improved funding for education, and innovative programmes.
Mr Afolabi Kolawole, NYFF Grants Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, said that the needs assessment was important for the development sector, government and other stakeholders for proper planning.
Mr Kolawole said that youth inclusion and empowerment would enhance development adding that the research document would help for proper intervention in youth issues.
“What Promad Foundation has done will help the Federal Government work for youth development in Nigeria, and carry youths along to contribute to national development,” he said.
Mr Haruna Godiya, Programmes Coordinator LEAP Africa, commended the work done by Promad Foundation by using data to drive home issues around youth civic participation
Mr Godiya said that the research to light the challenges faced by youths and how they could be tackled in the FCT and beyond.
He said that the document would be used as an advocacy tool for the federal government as well as for states to adopt the NYP among others.