The term ‘Participation’ has generated a lot of argument, infact; in most cases it has been wrongly used, Whereas, its important cannot be overemphasized, it is vital to every part of our life, in the family, in our religious houses of worship, to our education, work and businesses. Have we ever questioned why our policies are failing? Why are our leaders not responsive and why is accountability so passive? The problem is lack of inclusive participation. In most cases our participation ends at the point at which we cast our vote. We do not care about the issue as far as the person with us share the same religion or ethnicity.

It is very sad to see how deep the youth of this generation have divided along religion and ethnic line. That is for the few that care to show interest. To the majority it is a waste of time to participate in governance. We cannot dispute the fact that government policy affects every aspect of our lives. For instance, the dollar regulation policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria; we can see how this affected so many business in Nigeria. It affected a lot of people, even a six month old baby could feel the adverse effect as the price of everything flew up. It is without doubt that Government policies control our education, electricity, business environment, transportation and foreign exchange. We can see the effect in the number of youth that lost their job as a result of the economy recession.

“Inclusive participation is to recognize differences between individuals/groups, and is achieved when all citizen feel engaged, welcomed and provided with practical opportunities to participate”. Inclusive participation is about accommodating and accepting diverse opinion in decision making. It is when everyone across gender, status, education is given equal opportunity to be involved in decision making.  For the economy to flourish and grow there is needs to be continual evolution and implementation of practical strategies to make environments fair, safe and inclusive for all.

Inclusive participation required that we all should get actively involved in every decision that directly or indirectly affects us. In our community, we need to be actively involved in community base projects. We need to be active in national issues. More so, our political participation should not end at the polling unit. We need to engage our political representatives on issues concerning our constituencies.

Generally, what happens in the society has a direct bearing on what happens in business. Business leaders need to recognize the importance of inclusive participation in managing change. The economy requires drastic growth measures in order to create the necessary amount of job opportunities, which means all hands need to be on the deck. In other words, all parties need to take responsibility at all levels for this wheel (the economy) to turn a right.

Everyone has something of value to contribute if given the chance or opportunity to do so. Leadership needs to embrace this thinking if they are to manage change effectively through involving others. Our differences are not something that should divide us, sharing diverse ideas and views towards achieving a common goal should rather unite us. It is the role of managers and leaders to create platforms that encourage all people or employees to come forward with their contribution in all shapes and sizes to create sustainable magic (results).

There is so much change happening around us, such as technological changes, policy changes and staff reduction initiatives due to a slow economy, all which requires participation at all levels. None of us can afford to have only a few individuals driving or managing change without participation of all stakeholders.

Participation of citizens in deciding their future is fundamental to achieving inclusive societies and is a critical element of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at its core, the Agenda which was adopted by 193 countries in2015 set out a plan of action that seeks to end poverty, combat inequalities and protect the environment in all countries. This depicts how crucial inclusive participation is to our sustainable existence.

In a recent research I conducted in Junior Secondary School here, Abuja, it was an experiment base study where we wanted to test the willingness of teenagers to participate in governance. We selected four students from JSS two and three; there were twenty four students from class A to C in the two arms of the classes. This group formed the committee that coordinated the election. Our first finding was the unwillingness of not less than 30% of the group members to participate. Through the two months of preparation for the election, half of the committee members were absent from the meeting. During the registration for the election, JSS two students that registered were less than 35%. We find out that some students claimed that election is against their religious belief while others simply did not feel like participating. The question is, is it a natural instinct for Nigerians to shy away from participation? We also discovered that most of the participants expected financial reward not the beautiful experience and learning process this will earn them.

The positive result of the experiment is the fact that the students were innovative. They formed three political parties themselves. Some of the students were passionate about the process and were available throughout the two months exercise.  During the election, the committee’s were able to source resources within themselves for the election as the school authority did not finance the election. The committee’s improvised electoral ballot paper. The ink was contributed by the students from their water paint. The election process was interesting and successful. That is the beauty of inclusive participation, everyone contributed to the greater good of the process.

When we talk about inclusive participation every stakeholder should be willing to be part of the process. We need to start encouraging the youth to start participating in governance at a very tender age, that is catching them young; most of our young youth find it uninteresting to either listen to news or read one. They are too inclined to entertainment news, getting to downloads recent music’s or vote for Big Brother Nigeria is not a difficult task for them. We cannot achieve the desire result with this kind of culture. We need to show the willingness to be inactive part of the process. The importance of inclusive participation cannot be overemphasized; the fact is business leaders need to give room for inclusive Participation in their organization. This gives personnel a sense of belonging and purpose. As it is important in political and community world, it is also important in building a lasting and sustainable business organization.

By: Ogooluwa, Sylvester Ohis