The Acting Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Mr. Louis Eriomala has called for increased participation of women and the youths in Nigeria’s democratic process.

Eriomala who made this call in his welcome address at the opening ceremony of a 2-day Annual Roundtable on Cultural Orientation (ARTCO), organised by the Institute at Saatof Hotel & Suites, Lokoja, Kogi State capital said the active participation of women and youths at all levels of decision making is essential to the achievement of equality, sustainable development, peace and democracy in the country.

According to him, this year’s ARTCO with the theme: “Culture in the Consolidation of Nigeria’s Democracy: The Role of Women and Youths” is to re-examine the correlation between culture and development; culture and democracy; and the role of women and youths in the democratic process with a view to ascertain their impact on development as well as strategies to entrench a virile democratic culture in Nigeria.

While tracing the present state of cultural and moral degeneration in Nigeria to the neglect of our cherished cultural values of honesty, hard work, patriotism, respect for elders, constituted authority and human life, the NICO Boss said there is no way the country can achieve meaningful progress and development if the energy and potentials of the youths cannot be positively harnessed.

In his words “It is disheartening to note that our youths who should be rightly trained and equipped as leaders of tomorrow and agents of democracy are being used to perpetuate election violence and condemnable acts such as thuggery, killings, ballot box snatching, kidnapping and other forms of criminality”.

Similarly speaking, the Wife of the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Mrs. Rashida Bello said the old players in politics have continued to prevent the young ones from growing and unless they leave the corridors of power, such practice will continue to be inimical to actual development.

She maintained that women and youth are vital assets to any nation and when properly harnessed, can bring radical change that will probe and challenge the status quo, make them stand upright and provide hope for tomorrow, strive for excellence at all times as well as see opportunities in every moment and maximize them.

In all, five (5) papers were presented by scholars during the technical sessions of roundtable which include: Culture and Democracy as Critical Factors in Sustainable Development in Nigeria by Prof. Awam Menegbe of Kogi State University, Anyigba; Towards a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence During Elections in Nigeria: The Role of Women and Youths by Dr. Patrick Ukase of History Department, Kogi State University; and Not too Young to Run Act: An Appraisal by Dr. Sunday Ogbu Igbaba of the Department of Theatre and Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK).

Others were: Cultural Orientation and Youth Empowerment as Pathways towards Curbing Electoral Violence in Nigeria by Professor Emmanuel Dandaura of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK); and Consolidation of Democratic Culture in Nigeria-from Gender Exclusion to Inclusion by Professor Angela Miri, Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Lokoja.

Caleb Nor

Media Asst.-Ag. ES