Funding, Major Impediment For Any Nigerian Youth Running For Presidency—-YIAGA Africa
Yiaga Africa, a non-profit civic hub of change makers has identified some of the challenges Nigerian youths will face if they desire to run for presidency on the platform of any political party in the country.
The group found financial costs and the need to build networks as a fundamental part of Nigerian politics.
However, Ibrahim Faruk, the Program Manager at YIAGA Africa for Governance and Development/Coordinator, Not Too Young To Run Movement, told THE WHISTLER in an interview, that a young person who has presidential vision can start working towards it from the State House of Assembly.
A Nigerian youth has the opportunity to aspire to the highest political office of the nation leveraging on the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ legislation which already reduced the constitutional age for running for the office of the president from 40 to 35, for state House of Assembly, from 30 to 25.
The 2023 general elections will hold on February 2023 and about 18 political parties have already submitted the names of their presidential candidates.
Data seen by our correspondent at the Independent National Electoral Commission headquarters, Abuja showed that just one of the presidential candidate is in his 30s, 3 are in their 40s, 5 are in their 50s; 7 of them are 60 years and above while 2 are 70 years and above.
Faruk said that Nigeria elections are an expensive venture and anyone, whether young or old must also be prepared to run for office whether financially or with the level of support or network that is required.
He said,” We would have loved to see many more young people who are running for the office of the President but that comes with its own challenges around the cost of nomination forms, around the networks that you have to build, which truthfully, many young people do not have.
“These challenges do exist. I remember that in 2018, before the 2019 general elections, as a movement, we engaged the leadership of political parties at that time, to ensure that there was a reduction on the cost of funds.
“Again, before the primaries, political parties reduced the cost of nomination forms and I think this is a recognition of the challenge that young people face in paying the outrageous cost for this nomination forms.”
He added that regardless of the existing challenges, young people still have an opportunity in making a mark in Nigerian politics, especially when it comes to state legislative offices.
He advised they should actually run in their constituency and win elections at that level.
He said, “The office of the President is one office, however, across the 36 states, there are state houses of Assembly which provides an opportunity for young people to build their leadership skill and begin that leadership journey that hopefully one of them can end in the office of the president.”
More so, Faruk said that youth participation in active politics at various level is tied to the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ legislation which reduced the age for running for political offices.
He said although progress is being made in youth participation in politics, there is room for improvement.
He expressed the commitment of YIAGA Africa towards ensuring an increase in youth participation, representation and inclusion in Nigeria’s democratic governance and political processes.
His words: “In 2019 general elections, across various state houses of Assembly for instance, there were 20 beneficiaries of the Not Too Young To Run legislation, meaning they were below the age of 30 when they won and for the past 4 years, they have been in their various state houses of Assembly, representing their constituency.
“Beyond that, we also saw an increase in the number of the age of people under 35 across the House of Representatives as well.
“In 2015, there were 3 members who were under the age of 35 but then after the 2019 election, that went up to 12.
“I think that is significant increase,that shows that there is progress.
“Beyond that, even when it came to youth candidacy, we saw that the number of youth candidates in the general elections increased because of the Not Too Young To Run Bill which reduced the age.
“There is progress, may be not as we expected but we are seven or eight months away from another general elections (in 2023) and we are confident that as we start to receive the data from the various political party primaries and as they start to submit the names of their candidates for various offices, and we analyze the data, we are also going to see a significant increase in the number of young people who are contesting for elections, especially at state house of assembly and house of representatives.”