Prof Gyampo advocates for active youth participation in politics

Accra Professor Ransford Gyampo, an Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Ghana, on Thursday advocated for the involvement of young people actively in partisan politics, urging the youth to contest for Parliamentary seats.

He encouraged the youth to seize the opportunity and contest for political positions especially as the major political parties were holding Parliamentary Primaries to elect their Parliamentary candidates for Elections 2020.

We must work together to help increase the number of young people in the next Parliament as well as leadership in the governance of the country, Prof. Gyampo stated at the launch of the Youth Bridge Foundation (YBF) campaign to whip-up political enthusiasm among the youth.

The Foundation seeks to harness and develop the potentials of the youth in Ghana and across the African continent.

Prof Gyampo, who is the Head, Youth Bridge Research Institute (YBRI), said politics in Ghana in the build-up to independence and in the period aftermath was highly dominated by young people.

The period was essentially the politics of the youth. Young people played key roles in institutionalizing regimes and also participating as active members of the government, he said.

Prof Gyampo who is also Director of the Centre for European Studies said with the inception of our Fourth Republic and as constitutional and democratic governance commenced in 1992, old age became an unstated qualification for substantive representation and participation in politics and governance.

There are several empirical as well as anecdotal reports of adult politicians insisting the youth confine their role in politics to serving as foot-soldiers, voting machines and agents merely used to foment violent electoral conflicts and fighting dirty political wars of politicians, he said.

He noted that when it came to the youth’s substantive participation in governance, the youth are asked to bid their time until they mature, but were deemed matured and competent enough in determining who must lead them at age 18.

He said Africa as a continent had a youthful population, saying close to two billion people in Africa were aged between 18 and 35 years; yet the kinds of people who lead the continent were very old and continue to plague the continent with the anti-developmental ills of gerontocracy.

He said elders played no frontal role in traditional governance because they did not have the strength and energy to do so. But they had the wisdom and experience to offer timely advice to chiefs.

In our current constitutional and democratic dispensation, the elders who have no strength and energy prefer to play a frontal role in politics and want the young people who have no experience to rather remain behind the scenes and possibly offer counsel, he said.

He said at the moment, only five per cent of the current members of parliament were young people between the ages of 21 to 35 years, and was fatal for our democracy for this huge segment of the population to be severely underrepresented.

Prof. Gyampo also indicated that political parties also had the largest role to play in getting young people elected to parliament.

He called on Political Parties to encourage young people to contest the upcoming Parliamentary Primaries by removing all visible and invisible obstacles that could frustrate the youth.

The parties must also put in place mentorship interventions that allowed experience party leaders and past parliamentarians to mentor and build the confidence of the young parliamentary hopefuls.

Political Parties must ensure that at least 50 per cent candidates contesting and winning elections are young people, Prof Gyampo stated.

He also urged young people who experience needless frustrations and obstacles to brace themselves to contest the upcoming Parliamentary Elections as Independent Candidates.

We strongly believe that, the role of the youth in politics should not just be for vigilantism, as voting machines or as foot soldiers, young people must study the terrine and be bold enough to contest, even as Independent candidates, he said.

He said the Foundation was ready to offer technical and other support to young parliamentary aspirants’ including training, town hall meeting, and other platforms to enable them participate actively in elections.

We will do all these to help the youth achieve parity in our governance and political landscape and because of our belief and conviction that the development of a nation rests on its youth and that, nations that serve the relationship with their young population are condemned to bleed till death.

He stressed that their calls for youth participation were not meant to slight any politician who has aged but to ask for training space and a thoroughly nurtured inter-generational systems that enable us as a society, to successfully pass on the mantle of leadership to a well-groomed and prepared youth.

Source: Ghana News Agency