U.S. Under Secretary for Global Affairs Maria Otero Underscores Youth Influence in the Nigerian Democratic Process (March 7, 2011)
U.S. Under Secretary for Global Affairs Maria Otero Underscores Youth Influence in the Nigerian Democratic Process
March 7, 2011
“I could not leave Nigeria without meeting the future of Nigeria—the Nigerian youth,” declared Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs María Otero when she met with more than 200 youth and movie stars, including popular comedian, Julius Agwu, at a reception hosted by U.S. Ambassador Terence McCulley in Abuja.
Under Secretary Otero arrived in Nigeria on February 28 to engage senior Nigerian officials, electoral observation organization representatives, and civil society groups on efforts to create an environment that will deliver a transparent and credible election in April.
In a convivial-like atmosphere that allowed the youth including members of the National Youth Service Corps to meet and exchange views, the youngsters wasted no time in deploying their cool hand sets, a veritable social media tool, taking photos for quick uploads to their Facebook and twitter pages.
The U.S. diplomat reminded them of their influence to make a change in the coming general elections in April.
“As change agents, I encourage you to use your voter’s card to make a difference. Go to the polling center during the elections and cast your vote,” Otero said.
She also advised the youth to get well informed and educated on the electoral process, “that way you can effectively educate friends, neighbors and family members of their civic responsibilities to your country.”
Citing the example of President Barack Obama’s use of social media to influence his election as a best practice for the Nigerian Youth, Under Secretary Otero said with wide accessibility to social media, Nigerian youth can engage politically to bring influence on how things should be done in their country.
A major highlight of the youth reception was the open microphone dialogue that allowed several youngsters to ask the Under Secretary questions on US-Nigeria bilateral relations and to voice their opinions on the change they want to see in Nigeria in April and beyond.
The audience also watched a short voter education feature movie entitled “My Vote Fit Change Naija” (My Vote Could Change Nigeria) produced by Young Stars Foundation, and supported by the United States Agency for International Development and the National Democratic Institute.
Three of the youngsters attending the event, Dr. Enofe Nosa, Mgbemana Chiamaka and Hannatu Dantata said they’ve been impacted by the Under Secretary’s message and “we are going home today knowing that our votes count.”