The John Hopkins University (JHU) has invited Abideen Olasupo, a Nigerian youth development activist, to speak at a virtual conference on shrinking civic spaces.

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Olasupo, who is a 2017 graduate of the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), will be at JHU’s second annual conference on improving democratic principles.

The conference, to hold between October 18 and 20, is themed ‘Global Youth Activism Amidst Democratic Decay’.

It will host youth activists and scholars from different countries to deliberate on issues affecting young people around the world.

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Olasupo, who is the executive director of Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative (BBYDI), is expected to address the audience on how youth activists can maintain momentum in the face of repressive government policies.

Reacting to his invitation, Olasupo said he is excited to lend his voice to a global platform after witnessing “a gross violation of human rights across the country, including government’s repeated disregard for court orders”.

The activist added that he hopes the panel discussion will highlight challenges faced by civil society in Nigeria.

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“The past few years have seen democratic principles being eroded by governments. Nigeria is not an exception. There has been a rising concern about the government’s clampdown on civic space in the last three years,” he said.

“Last year, Nigerian youths took to the street to protest police brutality, amidst gross violation of human rights.

“This resulted in the killings of peaceful protesters while others are currently languishing in various correctional facilities across the country without trial.”

JHU’s conference comes ahead of December 9 when US president Joe Biden will host a virtual summit for leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector to highlight challenges and opportunities facing democracy.

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