In an unprecedented move
aimed at broadening the understanding of Nigerian students and setting the
records straight for them to understand the  workings of the institution
of the legislature and how it functions, the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, Rt. Hon Yakubu Dogara, will meet with 161 students from all
141 public and private universities across the country to interact with them.

The event, which will be
done over a two day period, is in fulfillment of the Speaker’s promise to
promote youth inclusion in governance and encourage their active participation
 in democracy. The dialogue is also aimed at exposing stereotypes that
have constantly pitched the people against the National Assembly due to general
misconception and misunderstanding of the legislature as a result of prolonged
military rule in Nigeria.

The Citizen Engagement and
Youth Development programme, a sole initiative of the Rt. Hon. Speaker, will be
a regular interactive forum with Nigerian University students, and is part of
the fulfillment of the 8th House of Representatives’ Legislative Agenda. As a
proactive and revolutionary leader,  this strategic move by the Speaker
will, in no small way, promote active youth inclusiveness in democracy and
redress the old thinking of exclusionary politics which has been identified as
the bane of sustainable democratic consolidation.

Apart from the goal of
enhancing  democratic engagement, deepening students’ knowledge and
understanding of Parliamentary activities, legislative processes, Parliamentary
history and oversight of government by the National Assembly, this innovative
interface will also encourage sustainable discussion on national developmental
issues between students and elected representatives; thereby, creating better
understanding of the legislature, creating an opportunity to demand for
accountability from their representatives, build trust and re-define public
perception of the legislature.
Furthermore, it will
create an avenue, a rare opportunity for the participants to make
contributions, recommendations to the speaker on areas they would want
addressed. In this interactive session, the president of the National
 Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) will address the speaker on the
role of students in nation building. The association will also facilitate a
debate on youth unemployment.

Overall, the parley is
expected to a) Expose students to the legislature: what it is and what it does

b) Learn about perceptions
and values of democracy and knowing what factors influence the functioning of

c) Enhance dissemination
of legislative information materials to students and school libraries.

d) Support students to
directly observe legislative processes

e) Improve public trust in
the Legislature as an arm of government

f) Enable students and
young people meet elected representatives in the National Assembly

g) Engage students in a
learning process outside the classroom by actively participating and improving
their knowledge, understanding the perspectives of the Legislature.

h) Development of
leadership skills in students and young people.
The meeting, facilitated
by the National Institute for Legislative Studies is expected to have
far-reaching impact on promoting citizen engagement with the legislature.