The Guyana National Youth Council (GYNC) pushed ahead with a grand launch of its voter education programme on Saturday. The voter education campaign is titled “Like Ah Boss”.
The launch took place even as the incumbent People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) continues to reject the Council’s authority to objectively represent Guyana’s youth population.
The Council has partnered with several local organizations, including the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), to increase youth turn out at the May 11 polls and provide information on the electoral process and civic education, pre and post elections.
The ruling Party objected specifically to the partnership between the GNYC and GECOM, saying the body was partisan and being led by persons who are closely aligned to opposition political parties. However, the Elections Commission has noted that its support is and has always been limited to the provision of information.
At Saturday’s launching, the assurance was given that the GNYC’s intentions are “noble” and not intended to convince young voters of what specific party to support at the polls, but how and why they should cast their ballot.
Chair of the network of youth organizations Tiffany Daniel told the gathering that “the goal is one that is complementary to the mandate of the Guyana Elections Commission to ensure young Guyanese are educated and informed of the electoral process and their understanding of role and duty in molding this land of ours.”
She explained that the GYNC’s task was indeed simple but transformational.
“As young people we have the audacity to believe that the time for inactiveness, self-pity and apathy is no more and that the time ripe enough for those here gathered who are in a position of influence to rise to the occasion and help develop the true potential of our youth,” she added.
Daniels explained again that GECOM’s role is merely to provide accurate information on the electoral process which will be disseminated across Guyana through the “Vote like a Boss” campaign.
The GNYC has also acquired assistance from the USAID Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) Project to help with capacity building and finance.
To this end, Head of the LEAD Project Glen Bradbury addressed the launch in the absence of GECOM Officials who are out of the jurisdiction carrying out the Commission’s own voter education activities.
Bradbury assured that the project brought no bias influence to bear on the GNYC in the assistance rendered. “Youths are the vanguard of change,” he said as he implored Guyana’s overwhelmingly young population to get more involved in politics and the electoral process while at the same time pointing to the deficiency, traditionally, in this regard.
He said “don’t downplay what you have to do… if you don’t decide what you want others will make the decision for you and then you have no right to complain.”
The “Vote like a Boss” campaign kicks off as early as next week with the first visit planned for Anna Regina. It is important to note that civic education will extend to the period beyond May 11 since a voter duty extends well beyond casting his/her ballot.
The campaign will see the hosting of forums where citizens will get an opportunity to engage the politicians.
Among the organizations working with the GYNC are Blue CAPS, the University of Guyana and Splash Magazine, Women Round Table, Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) and Women Across Differences. (Kurt Campbell)