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In Nigeria, Young Parliamentarians move to stop hate speech and social media bills intended to shrink civic space



The Young Parliamentarians Forum, YPF, of the 9th National Assembly last week vowed to stop the controversial hate speech, social media, and Non-governmental organisation bills.

This was part of the communique signed by the Chairman, YPF, Hon. Kabir Ibrahim Tukura and others, after their meeting held in Owerri, Imo State, after its official inauguration by the President of the Senate.

The communique which was signed by 23 members and made available to NewsWireNGR during the week indicated that the Forum held its 2020 annual retreat in Owerri, Imo State to deliberate on key national issues and develop its 2020 engagement agenda. The retreat among others focused on constitutional review, electoral reforms, shrinking civic space and the petroleum industry bill, as well as other issues of critical national importance.

According to the group of lawmakers, the current security situation in the country poses a threat to social cohesion and national development.

The YPF expressed deep concerns with the level of insecurity and its devastating impact on young people, women and people living with disabilities. The YPF commended the security agencies especially the gallant men and women in the warfront for their selflessness and patriotism in combating insecurity. The YPF calls on governments at all levels to review the current security architecture to ensure peace and security in line with democratic standards of national security management. The YPF calls for more leadership and professionalism from security agencies. The Forum aligns itself with the resolution of the National Assembly calling for the immediate removal of the Service Chiefs.

Government at the national and state levels should declare a state of emergency on youth development given the deplorable socio- economic condition of young people across Nigeria.

The YPF reaffirmed its commitment to deepening the democratic civic space and protection of human rights and will therefore not support proposed legislations like the hate speech bill, social media bill, the NGO bill in their current form, all of which are capable trampling on the rights of Nigerians. However, the YPF calls on citizens to be sensitive to the rights of others and be responsible in the exercise of their rights.

Excerpts of the communique below..

  1. The YPF will promote the involvement of citizens in the ongoing efforts to amend the constitution. In this regard, the Forum will provide leadership in building consensus on constitutional issues amongst young people in Nigeria and support constitutional amendments geared towards promoting devolution of powers, national integration, fiscal federalism and economic development.
  2. The YPF will canvass for further constitutional amendments to increase youth and women representation in elective and appointive positions in the country. The Forum will particularly take deliberate steps to promote the participation of women in politics.
  3. The YPF recognized the urgent need to deepen the integrity of elections through amendments to the electoral legal framework. Particularly, the YPF will propose amendments that deepen internal democracy in parties and sanitize the candidate nomination process. Other priority issues include; review of timelines for the resolution of pre-election matters before elections; bridging the dichotomy between election petition tribunal and regular courts; deployment of technology for results collation and transmission and electronic accreditation of voters; creation of the electoral offences commission amongst others.
  4. The YPF supports ongoing reforms in the petroleum sector and will work assiduously to ensure the passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) within the time slated by the leadership of the National Assembly taking into consideration the interest of Nigerians and other stakeholders in the sector.
  5. The YPF frowns at the non-compliance of State Governors to the constitutional amendment granting financial autonomy to State Houses of Assembly and therefore calls on the Attorney General of the Federation to, as a matter of urgency, enforce this constitutional requirement.
  6. The YPF identifies collapse of Local Government System as one of the factors responsible for worsening insecurity and therefore will support the ongoing Constitutional Amendments to grant financial and administrative autonomy to Local Government Councils.
  7. The YPF will sustain the inauguration of the Forum in State Houses of Assembly to build the capacity of members and activate the inclusion of young persons in governance, leadership and the democratic process.
  8. The YPF acknowledges the commitment of the leadership of the 9thNational Assembly to youth inclusion and the support for the YPF. The YPF calls on the leadership of the National Assembly to increase the support to the YPF and to ensure representation of young legislators on special committees like the Constitution Review Committee.

The group finally called for increased partnership and support from donor partners, civil society and professional organizations in achieving the mission of the forum – they appreciated YIAGA Africa and Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) for supporting the YPF.

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