Baywood Foundation, a youth-focused organisation is seeking collaboration with the African Union (AU) to run an internship programme for youths across the continent to enable them gain experience in governance and political leadership.
Its founder, Emperor Chris Baywood Ibe, stated this when he addressed newsmen yesterday in Lagos.
He said the programme, which is expected to kick off next year after getting the nod of AU and other political and corporate bodies, seeks to train youths to actively participate in governance with a view to taking leadership roles.
Ibe said: “Beginning from 2020, 200,000 youths from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, gender and academic disciplines under the auspices of the Baywood Foundation will participate in a special internship programme for a period of 12 months. During this period, the candidates, each of whom will undergo a strict vetting process prior to selection, would be placed in an internship role in a relevant institution, such as a political party, legislative body, government agency, among others.
“The focused objective is to position the candidate within an environment which provides opportunities to establish networks, upgrade knowledge levels and chart a career path in Government.”
With young people making up over 60 per cent of the population in Africa, Ibe said the system must provide an enabling environment and affirmative action for them to participate in leadership. To this end, he said road blocks in their paths should be removed.
Though praising President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the not-too-young-to-run bill into law, Ibe said more work needs to be done.
He said: “Part of the challenges, as identified by Baywood Foundation, include neglect/abandonment of youths, lack of engagement and lack of collaboration with youths.
“All these have culminated in the lack of opportunities for youths to actively participate in governance. These problems are lamentable, anti-democratic, including the exclusionist disposition of African leaders who capitalise on ethnic, religious as well as socio-economic divisions in their countries to perpetuate themselves in office.
“The African continent is riddled with Presidents who have spent over 35 years in office and are aiming for 40 years or more. The statistics in this regard make for very sober reflection indeed; hence, the clarion call for affirmative action. “
“The consequences of this characteristic of African leaders have led to the gross socio-economic under-development of the continent, corruption, genocides and the exclusion of many generations of youths from governance.
“Baywood Foundation commends President Muhammadu Buhari who signed the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ Bill to law in 2018 to reduce the age limits across political offices, including the Presidency. This is a step in the right direction but is however not enough because it does not address the systemic constraints to youth participation in governance.”