University of Ibadan (UI) and University of Abuja (UniAbuja) on Tuesday emerged joint winners of the YIAGA AFRICA tertiary institution’s affirmative action debate across the country.
YIAGA AFRICA is a Civil Society Organisation that advocates for youth inclusiveness in governance.
Ezenwa Nwagwu, the Board Member of YIAGA AFRICA, at the Grand Finale of the debate in Abuja said that the two universities emerged winners after beating other counterparts from the six geo-political zones.
Mr Nwagwu said that the affirmative action debate was part of the group’s commitment to promote democracy with youth inclusion as one of the thematic areas.
He said that University of Abuja, University of Maiduguri, University of Ibadan, University of Calabar, University of Kaduna and Michael Opara University of Agriculture, Umudike, competed in the finals from the six geo-political zones of the country.
“This is an opportunity for youths to lend their voices to democracy because military rule can give us schools, roads and even free education but there is only one thing it can’t give us, that is freedom.
“That is the ability to ask questions, I am excited that YIAGA AFRICA is creating a forum where young people who can be positive with issues, especially as we move toward a more difficult and trying period democracy.
“This is not just a trying period for Nigeria but all over the world.’’
Cynthia Mbamalu, the Programmes Manager, YIAGA AFRICA, said that the competition was designed to stimulate public discourse on youth affirmative action.
Ms Mbamalu said that this had given young people the opportunity to amplify their voices on their right to political participation and building positive political culture and attitude.
“For us in YIAGA, it is beyond just talking, it is beyond just saying there is a need for youth participation, it is about taking action to actually to get young people in government.
“We look at how we can engage young people because we have been accused of being unserious; of lacking focus and wanting to be handed leadership on a platter of gold.
“So, to change this stereotype, our attitude has to change; we have to ask ourselves how do we start engaging the process? We have a lot at stake. ‘’
Ms Mbamalu said that the group decided to take a decision on what youths could do for national development ahead of 2019 so that young people could be well represented in public offices.
She said that young people needed to set an agenda for the government through informed knowledge of all the country and all sectors, adding that it was the essence of the debate.
Ibrahim Farouk, the Senior Programmes Officer, YIAGA AFRICA said that the youth affirmative action debate was initiated to empower youths in the knowledge of politics and also create an avenue to air their opinions on the matter.
Farouk said that the debates elevated the discourse within the university communities, especially as political parties selected candidates for the 2019 general elections.
He said that with these debate competitions, young men and women showed that debates remained as a viable platform for discourse on policy issues and provide an avenue to promote inclusiveness and garner the opinion of the young students.
He said that the debate was an activity under the Promoting Inclusive Governance for Development project of YIAGA AFRICA implemented with support from Ford Foundation.