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WADEMOS Empowers 15 West African Youth to champion democracy, positive change  

The West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS) has mentored 15 young activists selected from across West Africa under its Next Gen Initiative.

The initiative is designed to empower and equip the next generation of leaders with the necessary skills and knowledge to promote positive change and strengthen democracy in West Africa.

The WADEMOS, in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency, said the six-month mentorship programme, which commenced in October 2023, encompassed a four-week intensive online session, followed by a two-month mentoring programme with a recognised civil society organisation, and community-based project work.

It said referred to as ‘Young Leaders’, the first cohort of the inaugural Next Gen Initiative were: Ophelia Awinboma Azure (Ghana), Mark Owusu Twumasi (Ghana), Ndey Fatou Nying (Gambia), Zakari Emmanuel (Nigeria), Ohalete Lynda Chiamaka (Nigeria), and Kotobidjo Nehemie (Benin).

The rest are Sadiya Diallo (Burkina Faso), Diallo Aissatou (Guinea), Roslia Djedjo (Guinea-Bi
ssau), Malamine Badiane (Senegal), Marina Terry (Sierra Leone), Sialyn Hawah Bockarie (Liberia), Ousman Goulo Abdoulaye (Niger), Pitekelabou-Potchossi Magnudawa (Togo), and Tetchi-Yavo N’gbesso Jean-Yves (Cote d’Ivoire).

Addressing the first cohort at a closing ceremony held at the CDD-Ghana office in Accra, WADEMOS Project Director, Professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh, admonished the Young Leaders to forge meaningful relationships that would contribute to breaking the barriers that divide citizens of the sub-region.

‘WADEMOS has a deep commitment to the youth, making sure that we raise a new generation of democracy defenders and activists. I hope that the few days you spent here have been productive and profitable and that you’ve learned a lot from each other,’ Prof Prempeh said.

‘The idea of WADEMOS is solidarity, learning about democracy, our challenges, our various countries and cultures, and trying to create a common West African city. It is all about offering you and the next generation a real prospect of
living in free societies so that you can realize your full potential.’

The WADEMOS Project Director also impressed the young activists to keep faith in democracy despite the current challenges, indicating that ‘authoritarianism produced civil wars, humanitarian crises, refugees moving from country to country, and child soldiers. All these are legacies of the authoritarian period.’

Prof Larry Diamond, the world’s leading scholar on democracy, who was the special guest of honour at the closing ceremony, entreated the Young Leaders to remain active voices in their communities against abuse of power and anti-democratic tendencies by their leaders.

‘Human nature is such that without scrutiny, without public voice, public media, independent voice, or civil society, you are only going to get new and deeper forms of abuse of power and waning public trust. Whenever governance goes bad, it is countered by an informed, active, vocal, peaceful, imaginative, and energetic civil society, and that is what you represent,’
he stated.

On the part of the WADEMOS Network Coordinator, Mr Paul Osei-Kuffour, he emphasized that the recent spate of democratic decline necessitated the grooming of a new crop of leaders to forge a new path for the sub-region and the continent.

‘The Next Gen Initiative underscores WADEMOS’ quest to help build a new crop of leaders whose leadership skills and commitment to development would be unquestionable. The Network also aims to build the capacities of young leaders, give them exposure, and provide a platform for them to explore their abilities and talents while ensuring diversity, inclusivity, and balance in leadership on the continent,’ he remarked.

Ndey Fatou Nying recounted how her experience had taught her more about other West African countries, stating, ‘Moving out of my comfort zone to share the experiences of other incredible leaders across West Africa and learning from their cultures is, for me, worth the miles travelled to be here. I made it a challenge to learn at least one thing from th
e diverse people in the camp.

Malamine Badiane commended WADEMOS for the invaluable skills and tools he had acquired through the programme,

He noted, that: ‘The Initiative has not only equipped me with the knowledge and skills to promote democracy and good governance but has also instilled in me a sense of responsibility to be a beacon of hope in my community.’

Selected from over 150 applicants, the 15 successful Next Gen Young Leaders received certificates from the Network for their participation in the programme. Following the conclusion of the six-month programme, each person will focus on completing or initiating a community-based project with support and technical guidance from the Network.

WADEMOS is a non-partisan, independent civil society-led transnational democracy solidarity network.

The WADEMOS Network consists of over 30 civil society organizations located in 15 countries in West Africa.

Source: Ghana News Agency