Yiaga Africa has called for more young people to participate in governance at various levels of government. This is in order to mobilize young people to engage the political process towards the 2023 elections, with a view to increasing youth candidacy.
This was stated by Yiaga Africa’s Governance and Development Program Manager, Ibrahim Faruk at the Run To Win Townhall Meeting for young candidates and leadership of political parties which was held in Abuja on 19th November.
Faruk said that the signing of the NotTooYoungToRun Bill by President Buhari in 2018 affirmed that young people are indeed not too young to run for elective office. He stated that as much as Yiaga Africa encourages and provides support for young people to run and occupy elective offices, ‘we are more interested in young people who possess competence and capacity.’ He revealed that the Run To Win campaign is aimed at bringing together young people who are running for office, to ensure that they get the support they need in order to not only run for office, but also win in the elections.
Speaking on the challenges young people face in electioneering, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, FCT Organising Secretary, Young Progressive Party (YPP) revealed that lack of awareness on the part of young people is a big issue. He advised that more sensitization bearing young people in mind should be done as they make up the bulk of the population.
“With non-governmental organisations like Yiaga Africa and my party, we are trying to see how we can change the narrative. We are developing a lot of content to make young Nigerians see elections as transparent, and believe that their votes count in the forthcoming FCT elections 2022”, Lawrence said.
Juliet Isi Ikhayere, the African Democratic Congress (ADC) Councillorship candidate for Kubwa Ward in the Bwari Area Council noted that ‘townhalls like this will be able to encourage other women to see that if a young woman can have the courage to run for office, they too can.’’ She advised other young women to do their best to surmount all the challenges peculiar to young, female aspirants and focus on their goals.
Other aspirants and supporters present at the town hall meeting noted that young persons have not been effectively mainstreamed into the electoral process, even though they constitute a huge proportion of the population in the FCT. They also listed low voter registration, low visibility of candidates and challenge of polling agents to man polling units as part of the many challenges young people face in elections.
As a recommendation, the young aspirants proposed an increase in security across the country in order to better secure ballots and encourage voters to participate in elections.
A report analyzing the legal framework for local government elections in Nigeria and examining youth and women candidacy in the 2022 FCT Area Council Elections prepared by Yiaga Africa was also presented at the Town Hall Meeting.
The political parties that were present at the Town Hall meeting include the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), African Democratic Congress (ADC), Allied People’s Movement (APM), Youth Progressive Party (YPP), amongst others. Civil society organizations and partners such as the Dean Initiative, PVC Activism and WeVote were also in attendance.
The Run To Win Campaign by Yiaga Africa is funded by Oxfam under The Voice project in Nigeria to influence policy change in favour of the poor and the most vulnerable. The project also works to boost civic engagement by providing platforms for citizen engagement to make policymaking more transparent and inclusive.