Promoting women and youth participation in party politics

President Bola Tinubu, this week, called on the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to embrace financial accountability and discipline in all its forms.

He also called for the promotion of participation women and youth in the day-to-day operations of the party.

The President made the call during the national caucus meeting of the party which took place at the State House Conference Centre.

The President, rightly, said that the future of the party belongs to Nigeria’s young people and women whom he praised for their dedication and demonstrable prowess in election matters.

“As a party, we must handle our finances very well. I hope the financial audit recommended by the National Working Committee (NWC) will help us strengthen our finances better. I thank our governors who contribute generously to the wallet of the party. These times are tough. We are challenged. Please continue to support the party.,” he said.

“Our party also needs to be more gender friendly and we need more participation from the youths because they own our tomorrow. Let’s get more youths and women involved. They are very dedicated election masters.”

Sadly, as the President observed, Nigeria’s democracy is unrepresentative. In a country where 18-35-year-olds form the bulk of the adult population, its political scene continues to be dominated by men…old men!

There are many factors responsible for this social injustice but at its core are the interrelated problems of dated cultural beliefs which presume a lack of wisdom and capacity to lead on the part of the youths and women, especially women.

There also exists a system of entrenched inequality which makes effective participation in politics – and by extension, leadership – a tall order for young persons.

The President is right because, after all, it is a fact that youths’ and women’s participation in politics is beneficial to both their communities and societies and broader peace and stability.

But despite the existence of a number of attempts aimed at guaranteeing their political rights and participation, Nigeria remains far away from achieving that goal of parity with the men.

While young people grapple with lack of jobs and women who account for the majority of Nigeria’s rural labour force are both overwhelmingly illiterate and denied economic rights to unlock potentials, a tiny fraction of the population continues to enjoy better fortunes under a sophisticated patronage system and they, aware of the inherent benefits, propel this political arrangement at the detriment of marginalised groups.

This situation needs to change and, thankfully, the President appears to now be driving that process of change. The inclusion of youths and women in political processes is a key element in achieving a truly inclusive democracy and they must have the chance to exercise their political rights and participate in all political decision-making.

Yet, the Tinubu-led administration should be committed to ensuring that women and youths from across society have equal opportunity to access political structures and positions of influence.

No doubt, the recent case of nomination of ministers by the President where women constitute barely about 15% of the number of nominees does not quite tend to align with the ambition of the president for especially women.

Thus, the administration should strive to include women and youths from different backgrounds and from under-represented groups in government.

This means actively reaching out to youths and women from less under-represented groups and communities and ensuring that women and youths from all age groups and demographics are represented in the government.

The Tinubu-led administration, however, should go beyond simply ensuring that women and youths have seats and understand the fundamental human right of women and youths to participate and incorporating their perspective at every stage of the planning and implementation of programmes and policies of the government.

The administration should work on the underlying political culture and ensure that gender inclusivity initiatives go beyond verbal gestures and genuinely address the underlying causes of the exclusion.

On the need for stronger ties with United Kingdom…

A more prosperous Africa is, without any iota of doubt, good for Britain but, yet, Africa accounts for just 2.5% of the UK’s trade. South Africa and Nigeria, the continent’s two largest economies, make up 60% of the entire UK-Africa trade relationship.

UK’s investments lag well behind those of France and the United States. It is true that where Britain has idled, other less than democratic powers have stepped in.

Thus, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has called on the government of the United Kingdom to deepen its partnership with Nigeria and Africa by investing more across sectors to see the African continent attain sustainable and broad-based prosperity.

The President made the call when he received the United Kingdom’s Secretary of Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Rt Hon. James Cleverly, MP, in his office.

Calling on the UK to commit more to development ventures in Nigeria and Africa, the President recalled the history of decades of deep symbiotic connection and economic ties between the continent and the UK.

And, in view of that history, Tinubu said that the UK government must work with Nigeria and the rest of Africa to create a competitive and technologically advanced economy to cater for the needs of all citizens.

“I am happy to know that the United Kingdom is ready to work with us in Nigeria and Africa,” he said. “The United Kingdom must do more for the continent. We have not developed a competitive economy.”

Quite instructively, the President, while addressing the pressing issue of energy transition and the opportunity for economic growth in Africa and Nigeria, called on the West, and UK, in particular, to explore opportunities in the oil sector through especially laying gas pipes from Nigeria to Europe.

According to the President, the West should help Nigeria lay pipes to Europe since gas is accepted as a clean energy source. “You must help us with the finance and facilitate the investment we require,” he said, just as the finances needed are enormous and the area of investments numerous.

Of course, African leaders understand that job creation, transport networks, power grids, renewable energy projects and digital infrastructure are the foundations of future growth.

Money from China, in the meantime, has offered a seductive route to meeting the development needs of African states, even when the ‘debt trap’ strings attached can be punishing.

The UK must now seize the initiative. The recent Africa Investment Summit, which brought together 14 African leaders in London, marked an important step in the right direction. That development should spur UK further into action as African economies look to benefit from that.

Nigeria, for example, few ago announced the largest infrastructure spending drive on record, pumping $2.63 billion into the economy aimed at upgrading the country’s roads, railways and power grids.

The then administration has also invested heavily in broadband to support its broader modernisation and diversification strategy. The UK should be facilitating trade cooperation on all of these issues, as demanded by the President, and participate in the development process of Nigeria, a country with unbounded potential.

Tinubu, and, of course, Nigerians, therefore, hope to see a greater commitment from the UK to support this kind of infrastructural development, alongside valuable social projects to promote socio-economic development, democracy and other core values.