The European Union (EU) has warned Nigeria not to take its democracy for granted.
The commission, which said Nigeria did not have a perfect electioneering process in the past general elections, added that there is room for improvement.
But EU noted that for this to happen, there needs to be above all the participation of youths, who he said are more than 60 per cent of Nigeria’s current population.
Head of EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen said the union was impressed by the amazing work the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members did during the general elections.
Karlsen spoke yesterday in Abuja, the nation’s capital, while presenting Information Technology (IT) equipment to 75 corps members involved in this year’s general elections at the NYSC camp.
He said: “We wanted to make the process leading to the elections about the youths. More than 60 per cent of the population in Nigeria comprises of youths. A vast majority of the voters are youths. So, we wanted to maximise, to an extent possible, the engagement of youths in the elections and we did that by reaching out to them in the six geopolitical zones.
“Now, we have come on the other side of the elections; if you have watched the news, you would have seen that we have just been concluding the observation mission of the EU. We have observed every general election since 1999. Today is about telling everybody that whether in Europe or Africa – and certainly Nigeria – you should not take democracy for granted.
“Did we have perfect elections? Of course, not. Is there room for improvement? Of course, there is. But for that to happen, we need, above all, to see the participation of youths. That is what today’s event is all about.
“Just immediately after the elections, we sat down and brainstormed on what to do to thank the corps members who participated in the general elections.
“I saw youth coppers keeping calm while people were fighting around them during the elections and young women calmly addressing angry crowds. You are the backbone of democracy; the elections would not even be possible without the participation of youth corps members.
“So, we sat back and said what can we do to thank you? We were able to convince the EU to do something that has never been done before, which was that the equipment used during the observation mission would be handed over directly to 75 youth coppers that participated.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said the commission realised that youth corps members are the most dedicated election duty workers.
He stressed that the commission was working on offering automatic employment to NYSC members who were exceptional during the elections.
The chairman promised that the offer will be extended to corps members that will participate in the upcoming Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.
Yakubu said: “Let me join the EU ambassador in appreciating particularly the youth corps members. There cannot be any election in Nigeria without the NYSC. I’ve said it before that youths corps members are the most dedicated, educated and patriotic election duty workers in Nigeria. It is not just the elections but electoral processes as well.
“Anytime an election is conducted, no one in the INEC sleeps until we have accounted for every Election Day worker, particularly the NYSC members.
“In addition to what the EU is doing today, the commission has embarked on the review of the 2019 elections. There are many corps members who did very well during the elections. We will reward those who have done excellent during the elections with automatic employment, including those who will participate in the two major elections that will be conducted in November: the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.”