Press Conference: Silent No More, Nigerian Youth Ask “What About Us?”

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Hand-deliver Invitations to General Muhammadu Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan as Presidential Candidates for the First Ever Youth-Focused Nigerian Presidential Debate

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This time around, we are engaged, aware and empowered, and believe that our vote should be earned and not expected

Young Nigerians represent 70 percent of the population yet their concerns and issues are not present on the national agenda. A confirmed tally of 73.5 million registered voters will participate in this year's election – a 20 percent increase from 2007. Of these, an estimated 65 percent are voters under 35 years of age. Across Africa, the youth are grasping the potential of their generation and have emerged as a political force of change. In Nigeria, the youth will not sit silent and let this moment pass us by. Together, we are asking the presidential candidates, “What About Us?” This time, we want answers.

Nigeria youths made their voices clear through a poll conducted on with a combined tally of more than 8000 votes in just 11 days for the top six candidates they want to see debate on March 25th at the Shehu Musa Yar’adua Centre in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. In ranking order, President Jonathan Goodluck (PDP), Mr. Nuhu Ribadu (ACN), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari,(CPC) Chief Dele Momodu (NCP), Professor Pat Utomi (SDMP) and Reverend Chris Okotie (FDP) emerged as the candidates of choice. Education, poverty, power, security, corruption and the economy were also identified as the issues that are of significant concern to the youth.

Over the past few weeks, organizations involved with “What About Us?” have also worked tirelessly with a cross-section of electoral stake holders on the national and international stage, making useful contributions to increase the likelihood of free, credible, transparent and participatory elections, including Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), The Federation of Muslim Women’s Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN), Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), National Democratic Institute (NDI), Democratic Governance for Development (UNDP), the Commission for Presidential Debates, and the US Embassy. The campaign has also held several discussions with the top candidates’ campaign managers and even some cases, the candidates themselves to ask them to answer the youth’s call.

Today – a little less than two weeks until the event – all but General Buhari and sitting President Goodluck Jonathan have listened to the unified voice of the youth and committed to participate.

The press conference will hold on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 11:00 AM at the same venue of the debate, Shehu Musa Yar'adua Centre in Abuja. This is a call to action to every Nigerian, young and old, to stand in solidarity and support the “What About Us?” initiative. These leaders need to share their vision because we refuse to follow blindly on April 9th when the presidential elections are conducted.

Prior to the press conference, “What About Us?” will hand-deliver invitations to the campaign headquarters of PDP and CPC in Abuja, to state our case in broad daylight and deliver the notice that the youths in Nigeria will not be ignored. Noted celebrities and representatives from youth groups across Nigeria will join the envoy to ask in a united voice, “What About Us?”

The “What About Us?” Campaign is a collaborative effort from Enough is Enough Nigeria, Vote or Quench, Sleeves Up and StandUp Naija.

For inquiries contact:
Nosarieme Garrick, +234.803.490.9906; Amara Nwankpa, +234.807.761.0747; Chude Jideonwo, +234.808.283.2610; info(at)whataboutusnigeria(dot)org

What About Us: A Cross-Section of Political and Civic Engagement

We have worked with:
1.    John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
2.    National Democratic Institute (NDI)
3.    Department for International Development (DFID)
4.    Transition Monitoring Group (TMG)
5.    Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
6.    International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
7.    International Republican Institute
8.    Democratic Governance for Development (UNDP)
9.    Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA)
10.    Police Service Commission
11.    Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)
12.    The Federation of Muslim Women’s Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN)
13.    Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC)
14.    Nigeria Labour Congress
15.    Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA)
16.    Academic Associates PeaceWorks
17.    Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation
18.    Community Life Project
19.    The Commission for Presidential Debates (CPD)
20.    The European Union
21.    The United States Embassy

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