In an unprecedented move aimed at broadening the understanding of Nigerian students and setting the records straight for them to understand the workings of the institution of the legislature and how it functions, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Yakubu Dogara, will meet with 161 students from all 141 public and private universities across the country to interact with them.
The event, which will be done over a two day period, is in fulfillment of the Speaker’s promise to promote youth inclusion in governance and encourage their active participation in democracy. The dialogue is also aimed at exposing stereotypes that have constantly pitched the people against the National Assembly due to general misconception and misunderstanding of the legislature as a result of prolonged military rule in Nigeria.
The Citizen Engagement and Youth Development programme, a sole initiative of the Rt. Hon. Speaker, will be a regular interactive forum with Nigerian University students, and is part of the fulfillment of the 8th House of Representatives’ Legislative Agenda. As a proactive and revolutionary leader, this strategic move by the Speaker will, in no small way, promote active youth inclusiveness in democracy and redress the old thinking of exclusionary politics which has been identified as the bane of sustainable democratic consolidation.
Apart from the goal of enhancing democratic engagement, deepening students’ knowledge and understanding of Parliamentary activities, legislative processes, Parliamentary history and oversight of government by the National Assembly, this innovative interface will also encourage sustainable discussion on national developmental issues between students and elected representatives; thereby, creating better understanding of the legislature, creating an opportunity to demand for accountability from their representatives, build trust and re-define public perception of the legislature.
Furthermore, it will create an avenue, a rare opportunity for the participants to make contributions, recommendations to the speaker on areas they would want addressed. In this interactive session, the president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) will address the speaker on the role of students in nation building. The association will also facilitate a debate on youth unemployment.
Overall, the parley is expected to a) Expose students to the legislature: what it is and what it does
b) Learn about perceptions and values of democracy and knowing what factors influence the functioning of democracies.
c) Enhance dissemination of legislative information materials to students and school libraries.
d) Support students to directly observe legislative processes
e) Improve public trust in the Legislature as an arm of government
f) Enable students and young people meet elected representatives in the National Assembly
g) Engage students in a learning process outside the classroom by actively participating and improving their knowledge, understanding the perspectives of the Legislature.
h) Development of leadership skills in students and young people.
The meeting, facilitated by the National Institute for Legislative Studies is expected to have far-reaching impact on promoting citizen engagement with the legislature.