2023: 200 Coalition of youths is six geo-political zones unite for democracy
To pick Presidential candidate before February 20
By Joseph Ologeh
A new coalition of existing civil society and community based groups in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria have called for mass action against any attempt to postpone the 2023 elections. The coalition under the umbrella of Youth Awake Now, identified the current cash crunch, the upsurge in violence as major threats to the democratic process warning that irrespective of faultlines, Nigeria remains far better than any system that undermines the right of the people to choose their leaders.
At a Press conference held in Lagos, the youth groups made of 200 different organisations from across the country said after extensive consultations across the country it decided to form an umbrella organization that will ensure anti-democratic forces across the country are defeated. The coalition has scheduled a meeting for Abuja this week to announce its preference among the contesting Presidential aspirants.
The conference was attended by various leaders of youth groups that cut across ethnic, religious and community base organizations.
Their new leader, Eric Oluwole who addressed the media said younger people across Nigeria have resolved to work together against violence and attempts to either postpone of scuttle the 2023 elections
YOUTH AWAKE NOW (YAN), Is a body that embrace Youth Organisations in Nigeria, it was launched recently in Abuja with a very good plan towards the future of Nigerian youths, it comprises Arewa, Ohanaeze, Yoruba, members of National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS and National Youth Coalition of Nigeria among others.
Oluwole said young people across the country have observed the developments in Nigeria ahead of the 2023 Elections.
“There is cash crunch, rising violence, increasing poverty and a dangerous slip into ethnic violence. When this happens, the youths are not just the weapons that will be used, they are also direct victims of violence. After extensive meetings and engagements across Nigeria and in the South West, we have come out with a mass based plan to mobiise Nigerians against violence, before, during and after the election.’
He said the Yoruba Youth Council (National Body) in conjunction with all the Yoruba Youths Organizations and Stakeholders in the South West Region of Nigeria have resolved to endorse YOUTH AWAKE NOW (YAN), which is a non profit critical platform for the Nigerian youths to speak with one voice irrespective of our socioeconomic, ethnic, religious or political backgrounds, and finally secure our future from decades of neglect, promises and failure by the political leaders.
‘We fully adopt the aspirations of YAN, which has brought together over 40 million Nigerian youths under the auspices of all the apex youth organisations, youth leaders and social media influencers of diverse ethnic, political and religious backgrounds behind the noble ideals of working towards rebuilding Nigeria into a Country where love, Justice, harmony and peace shall reign for all indiscriminately.’
He said the coalition opted for a new platform to foster open communication and ignite the much needed dialogues to entrench accountability with all the presidential candidates in the February 25, 2023 Presidential Election, and ask them about their plans for the youths.
He said ‘We also agree that the Nigerian youths have consistently been at the receiving end of policies made by regimes and administrations that have ever governed our Country; and thus they have repeatedly been denied several opportunities to explore their youthful potentials for their own advancement and to the overall benefit of our Motherland.’
Oluwole said there was the need now to thoroughly engage the manifestos of the presidential candidates for proper scrutiny to enable the well informed youths, who constitute the largest number of Nigeria’s electorate, cast the ballot for the candidate of their choice through our permanent voter card, PVC.
The coalition said in pursuit of its objectives YAN, which are is ennobling, beginning from this week have asked all the youth organisation structures in the South West Region to start campaigning about the new YAN platform towards resisting any attempts to truncate democracy and prevent a slide into violence, young people being increasingly sidelined and impoverished by the one sided and unjust political system.
He said youths across Nigeria are getting concerned about the building momentum, the lingering crisis over the biting scarcity of the new Naira notes and fuel; the bottled-up anger and the threat of violence being unleashed over the frustrations being experienced and what looks like attempts to bring down the pillars of democracy and human freedom.
‘We feel saddened by the prevailing conditions in which Nigerians generally, in recent weeks have been forced to eke a living, compelled to do so by the artificially induced scarcity of physical cash due to the hasty and untidy implementation of the currency design, currency swap and cashless policies by the Central Bank of Nigeria as approved by the Federal Government’ the coalition stated. It called on the Federal Government to order the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, to immediately clear all the bottlenecks around the petroleum supply chains within Nigeria with military dispatch, and ensure the urgent normalisation of all the supply chains through which petroleum products, which indeed constitute the life blood of all economic activities of our peoples, get to the local consumers.
‘Also we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to order the CBN to reissue the old notes in large quantity back to the Nigerian economy to bridge the gap; while simultaneously releasing the new notes also consistently for weeks into the economy in accordance with the advice of the Council of State’ the group said.
Oluwole said the group believed that if implemented as stressed in the last two points concerning the twin problem of scarcity of fuel and physical cash, normalcy will return speedily to the Nigerian economy, while Government will have succeeded in averting timely any threat to the successful conduct of the February 25, 2023 Presidential Election and all the other accompanying scheduled elections.
He said youth stakeholders in the South West Region and across Nigeria have agreed to use its various structures to mobilize for YAN at the grassroots from local governments to local governments throughout our Region.
‘This will ensure that all the youths in the South West Region, like their counterparts in the other five Regions of our Country, rally round all the programmes and activities of YAN which we strongly believe are ennobling, as they will help to build a new Nigeria where no one will be oppressed or suffer any injustice or discrimination based on his or her language, belief, or any other ephemeral considerations any longer,’ he said.