‘Look beyond challenges and participate in democratic governance’

The youth have been urged to look beyond the challenges of the country and actively participate in its democratic governance to enhance rapid socio-economic development.

According to speakers at a youth democracy forum organised by the Africa Centre for Democracy and Socioeconomic Development (CDS Africa), a think-tank, at the University of Ghana (UG) on Friday, a lot of positives could be drawn out from active participa­tion of the youth in the democratic governance of the country.

Some of the positives high­lighted by the speakers were the improvement of the relationship between the youth and the com­munity, innovative ways to address problems, increased youth political involvement, and strong leader­ship.

Notable among the speakers at the forum were the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency, Mrs Lydia Seyram Alhassan, the Head of Political Science Department, UG, Professor Alidu Seidu, and the Acting Commission Secretary of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Mrs Lucile Hewlett Annan.

Mrs Alhassan described youth as a driving force for human capital, stimulating productivity levels for economic growth and devel­opment, and therefore called for adequate investment in them.

According to Prof. Seidu, dem­ocratic participation was not only led by the government but could also be initiated by the citizenry, including the youth of the country through petitions, among others.

He, therefore, urged the citizen­ry, including the youth, not to leave the process of participation in the hands of the government, but initiate it.

“Participation, though govern­ment led, can also be initiated by the citizenry and civil society organisations. So, we should not always wait for the government to tell us to come and talk before we talk,” Prof. Seidu said.

Having observed the lack of op­portunity given to the youth by the older generation to express their views, Prof. Seidu underscored the need for a cultural orientation on the benefit of active youth partici­pation in the country’s democratic governance.

A member of the UG student’s parliament, Mr Alor, bemoaned the various barriers that hindered youth participation in the coun­try’s democratic process, such as institutional structures, and also encouraged the youth not to lose focus but to draw inspiration from personalities like Kofi Annan, and also be engaged to be recognised.

In an opposing view, Mrs Annan said the youth were not ready to actively participate in the demo­cratic process as they did not show much interest in the political affairs of the country.

Additionally, she said the youth needed not to be at high leadership positions to participate in demo­cratic governance but could partic­ipate at various levels in society.

In his welcome address, Director of Research and Policy, CDS Africa, Dr Abena Boateng, said the youth played an important role in improving democratic process of the country as they could hold leadership accountable, hence, the need for the forum.



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