YOUTH PARTICIPATION IN POLITICS IN THE NIGER DELTA
The idea of youth participation in politics has become a popular part of contemporary political talk in every part of the world except Nigeria and particularly in the Niger Delta where one can note that youth participation in governance often end during electioneering campaigns and at the polls. The few opportunities that exist for the youths are hijacked by the older generation with 60-year-old as Youth Leader in political party(ies), despite the United Nations definition of youth as a person between the ages of 15-24.
Realizing that the youth constitute the backbone and future of any nation, the African Union developed the African Youth Charter, where it prescribed responsibilities to Member States for the development of youth. In Nigeria, and particularly in the Niger Delta, there is little or no efforts at harnessing the potentials of the youth. The capacity building for youth interested in politics project was developed to address this gap to prepare youth to participate in the region’s decision-making process. Achievements recorded during the intervention were varied including;
- Capacity of 261 youths (male and female) built to participate in politics in the focal States of Edo, Delta and Bayelsa States by Centre LSD.
- Out of those trained in Delta State, one of them Innocent Anidi won a House of Assembly seat and he is currently the Minority leader in the House.
- Two others from those trained still in Delta State, Modesty Ogbalor and Solomon Osuemerai contested and won election during the Ward Congresses in Delta State as Ward Chairman (Oleh Ward 2) and Youth leader (Oleh Ward 2) respectively.
- Another trainee from Delta State, Mr. Paul Oyiborume contested for APC National Youth Leader South-South position but lost. He later got appointed as the Director of the Youth Wing of the Great Ogboru Campaign Organization to coordinate activities of the youth under the Ogboru platform in Delta State. He was subsequently appointed into the President Buhari Youth and Women Campaign organization to mobilize youths and women for the 2019 election. Recently, he was awarded for his contribution to building the capacity of youths in his church.
- Another two (Barr. Mathew Omonade and Kelvin Djagbo) from Delta State, got appointment as Special Assistants to the Deputy Senate President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
- In Edo State, two of the trainees Amienye Omoregie and Grace Obakina used the training to launch themselves into mainstream politicking during the 2019 general election in the state. got their primary elections ticket and contested for Edo House of Assembly seats during the 2019 general election. Though they lost in the election, one of them, Grace Obakina elected to step up by working with youths and women in the state, where he won several awards. The other has become relevant in his party and in the discourse of youths, politics and governance.
- In Bayelsa State, Alfreder Ato (SDP), and Franklin Kemebimo Favourankie (YDP) picked their respective party ticket to contest the State Assembly seats but lost to the power of incumbency in the State. Another, Robert Bokolo now Co-ordinates Bayelsa chapter of Coalition of Young Candidates of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Nigerian Youth Social Responsibility Fund project, while Alfreder Ato is working to advance the cause of women and youths in the State.
IMPROVING DELIVERY OF SANITATION SERVICES AND ACCESS TO WATER IN PHC FACILITIES IN ANAMBRA STATE
Improving delivery of sanitation services and access to water in PHC facilities in Anambra State is project developed out of the belief that a good healthcare system is fundamental for citizens productivity and growth of any economy. As a result, countries across the World, have clear structure for organizing their healthcare systems. This places responsibility on Government to ensure the provision of good health care system for its people. In Nigeria, the health system is decentralized into three tiers with responsibilities at the Federal, State and Local Government levels. Local government are responsible for primary health institutions with health services organized through the ward.
The social target of governments, international organizations and communities across the World is the attainment by all peoples of the world a level of health that will permit them to lead a socially and economically productive life. Primary health care was identified as the key to attaining this target. Despite this, the tale in Nigeria primary health care institutions and including those in Anambra State has been largely a tale of underperformance, a reason the project was conceptualized.
PHCs facility assessment was undertaken to ascertain the actual status of facilities at the PHCs. Centre LSD developed a checklist based is expected in every Primary Health Centre in terms of water and sanitation. As technical lead, Centre LSD developed the checklist with the agencies including JDPC Nnewi and Community Empowerment Network (COMEN), as part of the process for sills transfer. The checklist guided and paved way for a seamless engagement of the assessment process.
The outcome of which, enabled the development of a terms of reference for the researcher on PHC policy review in Anambra State.
COMMUNITY-LED TOTAL SANITATION
The project, community led total sanitation in the FCT was implemented in Durunmi 3 and Ruwan Fulani in Abuja Municipal Council Area (AMAC) and later in Kuyizhi Community in Kuje Area Council. At the point of entry in the communities, there were clear absence of toilets in Durunmi 3 and Ruwan Fulani. Open defecation was the other of the day. Residents defecate and fling same through their window because of the absence of toilet facilities. On entry into Durunmi 3, what you see is a waste heap that may have existed for ages. It was a den of flies with feaces and other waste adorning the heap. The only toilet in the community was located close to a borehole where they get water. Attenuation may not be possible with the closeness of the water to the toilet. As a result, dysentery, cholera, malaria were regular health issues in the community. So also was Ruwan Fulani but unlike Durunmi 3, there was no heap of refuse. Theirs was open defecation with contaminated stream water as drinking source. At Kuyizhi Community, the baseline findings were not remarkably different. Only one household had toilet out of 34 household. Occupants’ of houses defecate in the surrounding which flows into their drinking water sources (streams) during the rains. Hygiene was a big issue. People defecate and do not bother to wash their hands after defecating. Oral feacal transmission was rampant, causing Malaria, typhoid fever etc.
All of these started changing during the triggering session in the intervention were the residents realized that they were eating their own feaces. They accordingly developed their action plans and initiated activities that brought changes and the attainment of Open Defecation Free status. The major results influenced by this project implemented in 2011/2012 and which is sustained till date include;
- Embrace of good hygiene practices – All 34 households in Kuyizhi Community now have toilets build and maintained by themselves with hand washing facilities.
- Holding of Bi-weekly sanitation exercise – There is regular bi-weekly sanitation exercise in the community. It started in 2012 and it is still maintained till date.
- Provision of a mini-clinic – Centre LSD in one of its outside meeting with civil society organizations shared the Kuyizhi community success story of hygiene and cleanliness, and the Nigeria Red Cross immediately took special interest in the community. The Centre took them to Kuyizhi, and promised to provide for them every material needed for a clinic if they could provide a building. The community immediately swung into action and built a two-bedroom apartment. The facility is functioning effectively and has been taking over by the Kuje Area Council with Nurse posted to the facility since 2013.
- Improved community organizing – there is cohesion and improved organization in Kuyizhi Community. This is evident in the maintenance of the bi-weekly sanitation exercise.
- Healthy rivalry in the community – The community was divided into 4 Angwa(s) after the training on Hygiene, leadership and management of household income. Till date, the angwas are still being maintained and there is competition amongst them during sanitation.
- Removal of the waste heap in Durunmi 3 with the advocacy success to the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB).
- Introduction and enforcement of the use of waste bags to residents by officials of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board in Durunmi 3.
- Construction and provision of toilet facilities in compound by landlords in Durunmi 3 and Runwan Fulani Communities.
ENHANCING CITIZENS PARTICIPATION IN THE BUDGETARY PROCESS IN BAYELSA STATE
Centre LSD implemented the project Enhancing Citizens’ Participation in the Budgetary Process in Bayelsa State from August, 2011-Janaury, 2012 and from 2012 – 2013. During the implementation of the project, there was analysis of Bayelsa State budget from 2007-2011. The second phase was to consolidate the gains and deepen the engagements of the first phase. Prior to the intervention 2011 – 2012, Bayelsa State budget process was characterized with some chronic challenges including.
- Incremental budgeting without linkage to sectoral priorities.
- Budgets were characterized by lumping and so disaggregation was an issue.
- Budget for government House was more than the budget of four ministries (Health, Agriculture, Education and Infrastructure put together.
- Teacher pupil ratio was 1:168
- The budget process was not opened for citizens participation.
The advocacy approach that was deployed in the project influenced the following;
- Declaration of a state of emergency in the educational sector in 2012.
- Embrace of the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).
- For the first time and which has remained a practice, the invitation and involvement of civil society in budget defense by Ministries.
- Improved budgetary allocation to Education, Health, Agriculture and infrastructure.