LEAP Africa, a non-profit organisation focused on youth leadership development in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation has reiterated the need to deepen advocacy toward projecting the voices of the African youth population.
The collaboration is leveraging the Youth Leadership Debates, which commenced in 2022 as a pillar of the Nigeria Youth Futures Fund (NYFF), an initiative of LEAP Africa.
The NYFF is a platform for young Nigerians in tertiary institutions across the nation to lend their voices to topical issues that affect Nigeria through the art of debates.
The Youth Leadership Debates 2.0 was made possible through strategic partnerships with the MacArthur Foundation, the Platform Nigeria, Ford Foundation and other organisations.
Participants were taken through courses on self-leadership, active citizenship, sustainability, and advocacy. At the end of the learning process, 32 teams from 19 tertiary institutions in Nigeria qualified for the debate.
After two virtual elimination rounds, quarter-finals, and semi-finals, the finalists were tasked with debating the topic, ‘Nigeria’s Long-Standing Position as the Giant of Africa is no Longer Tenable’.
Following the engaging arguments from the proposing team, University of Ilorin, and the opposing team, University of Ibadan, scores from the judges, and the audience, who also got an opportunity to vote for their winning team, were tallied, and the University of Ilorin emerged winners of the Youth Leadership Debates 2.0.
The University of Ilorin received a cash prize of N2, 500,000, while University of Ibadan was rewarded with a cash prize of N1, 500,000 as first runner-up. The second runner-up, University of Lagos, went home with a cash prize of N1, 000,000.
“Youth voices and youth-led actions are very critical to nation building and this is one of the key propellers of our efforts to activate youth voices across Nigeria. Young people should not be silenced; however, they should be guided on how to leverage their voices and the right channels for advocacy that will lead to sustainable change,” Kehinde Ayeni, executive director, LEAP Africa stated.
Ikenna Ogbudimkpa, Project Lead for LEAP Africa, spoke on the importance of the NYFF initiative, and emphasised the essence of advocacy in amplifying the agency of young Nigerians.
“The Nigeria Youth Futures Fund initiative was launched as a catalyst for youth voices and to amplify the efforts of young Nigerians towards the Nigeria we want. It has become apparent that the Nigerian youth are ready to advocate for the change they desire in Nigeria and the brilliant arguments of the debaters in this season is proof of that,” he stated.