Monrovia – The Vice Presidents of Sierra Leone and Liberia, Dr. Mohammed J. Jalloh and Madam Jewel Howard Taylor have called on young people across Africa to take on initiatives that will mold them into good leaders for tomorrow.
The two leaders spoke in separate remarks at the opening ceremony of the Young Political Leadership School (YPLS) Africa organized by NAYMOYE, partners for democratic development on Monday in Monrovia.
Delivering the keynote address, Dr. Jalloh said the future of Africa lies in the hands of the young people, especially females.
The young people of Africa have a stake in defending and fighting for democracy on the continent because it is in a democratic space that they would have the best opportunity to unleash their potential, he said.
In the process, he called on them to exhibit honesty, integrity and patriotism. He also called on the young people to use social media for a good cause to fight for democracy.
“Youth have a stake in defending and fighting for democracy. And social media is the best tool to defend and fight for democracy,” he said.
Dr. Jalloh, a political scientist, spent most of his professional career working with the United Nations building and strengthening democracies in Asia and Africa. He dedicated most of his speech to sharing his experience with the students.
Speaking further, he said one of the biggest challenges to democracy is the progressive contraction of the civic space. He called on government to create the civic space and constantly engage the civil society, not to take them as contemporary challengers.
Speaking earlier, VP Taylor called on the youth to make right choices in electing their leaders. Their votes, she said is sacred and mark the beginning of the realization of the change they so yearn for; and as such, they should not be bought by politicians or trafficked from one place to another during elections.
“Your vote, your choice. Do not allowed your votes to be bought for little or nothing,” she cautioned.
“If you are used to be trafficked from one part of Liberia to the other end, you lose twice. You miss out in participating in the process of electing the best leader you desire. And you also imposed the wrong leaders on the community you are trafficked to.”
Speaking further, she called for a sustained and robust civic and voter education in the country’s electoral system, especially as it gears towards the much-anticipated 2023 presidential and legislative elections.
The YPLS is NAYMOTE’s flagship youth leadership development program. The overarching goal of the YPLS Africa, according to the organizers, is to contribute to forming a new generation of character-driven and socially active young leaders that would be accountable, accessible, and responsive to the needs and interests of their citizens and help shape the future of their respective countries positively.
The ongoing Cohort 8 brought together 100 young leaders from several African countries including Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea, the Gambia and Liberia.
The President of the leadership school and the Executive Director of NAYMOTE, Eddie Jarwolo said the YPLS Africa has become an excellent platform for young people to learn new skills and tools to improve their leadership abilities and expand youth networks with a diverse community of young leaders and electoral management experts – something helpful to solidify peace, development, and accountability within Africa.
The five-day event is expected to deliver an array of engaging sessions through exceptional speakers, in addition to the two VIPs.
Some of the speakers include former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Ambassadors from the United States of America, Sweden, and The United Kingdom, among others.