The University of Abuja (UniAbuja) has expressed its readiness to deepen political participation of young Nigerians by providing them with the necessary leadership training.
Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah, made this known at the 2023 Election Townhall organised by the Abuja Leadership Centre, a TETFund Centre of Excellence in Public Governance and Leadership domiciled in the University.
Professor Na’Allah, who expressed delight that the University is living up to expectations by leveraging on its strategic location in the nation’s capital territory to contribute to the development of Nigeria, said the institution through the Centre would enthrone an improved leadership system in the country.
”We are now committed totally as a university to change the cause for this nation. You know, when people say their problem is not money but how to spend it, we must teach Nigeria how to spend money, how to make decisions, how to select leaders who are ready.” Professor Na’Allah said.
The erudite scholar cited example of Singapore that got it right on leadership recruitment system which catapulted it from a third world country to a first world nation within a short period of time.
On the 2023 general election, the Vice Chancellor called on young people to participate fully in the process, noting that the Abuja Leadership Centre’s decision to organize the townhall would go a long way to addressing the issue of political apathy ahead of the 2023 polls.
On his part, the Director of the Centre, Professor Philip Afaha, said the townhall purposely targeted young people to boost their participation in next year’s elections and subsequent electoral processes in the country.
“The objective of organising this town hall is to educate the public and not just the public but the young public. The University is predominantly peopled by young Nigerians and they have the right to know what will be happening in the country by February and March next year.
“We are approaching a very significant phase in our nation which has to do with electing those that will be in charge in the next four years. It is important to educate the young minds because these are people that are disengaged from the leadership system and establishment.
“Election is very important and cannot be left in the hands of politicians alone. The young ones must know the technicalities, BVAS, transmission of results, how voting is to be done”, he said.
Also, Chairman of the event and former military Governor of Kwara and Kano states, Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Umar (Rtd) , said producing good leaders is key to the development of any nation.
He called on Nigerians to choose good leaders in the 2023 general election, adding that the country needs to overcome its crisis of leadership recruitment.
On his part, the Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund TETFund, Mr. Sonny Echono, said the Abuja Leadership Centre is one of the 24 Centres of Excellence put in place by the Agency across the country to meet the developmental needs of Nigeria.
While saying that TETFund believes in the future of the Nigerian youths, Echono commended the Centre for its efforts in grooming leaders for the country and challenged the youth to take active part in the 2023 electioneering process.
In a presentation, lead speaker at the event and former INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Mike Igini, said there would be major paradigm shift in the 2023 polls as voters now have the ultimate power to determine winners of election.
He said rigging and other form of vote manipulations by politicians have been curtailed by the BVAS and called on youths to seize the opportunity to vote out bad leaders.
“Polling unit, ward and local government collation centres are now mere ceremonial collation centres as results entered into the BVAS are automatically loaded into the cloud system,” and the amended Electoral Act proscribes severe punishment- a prison term of not less than one year or N10 million fine for electoral official that attempts to change election results”, Mr. Igini said.
Also, an speaker and Executive Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre PLAC, Mr. Clement Nwankwo, said despite the innovations and other good measures initiated by INEC to curb rigging, Nigerians need to be vigilant as the BVAS is not totally immune from manipulation.
Reporting by Daniel Adejo; Editing by Oluwaseyi Ajibade