Yiaga Africa Institutes NotTooYoungToRun Hubs in Sokoto State
As part of efforts to increase youth political participation, Yiaga Africa with the support of the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has organized a one-day Town Hall meeting on the Not Too Young To Run movement in Sokoto State.
The event had over 60 young men and women in attendance who were sensitized on the values, goals and efforts of the NotTooYoungToRun movement, the success of the Not Too Young To Run bill which reduced the ages of eligibility for elective offices, and how they could leverage on the success of the Bill.
In her remarks, the Director of Programs, Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu said the townhall was convened with the purpose of enhancing the participation of active young women and men in politics. She addressed the problem of “money politics,” and the need for young people to rise above selling their votes, challenging the youths to do something towards achieving the change we want, rather than let them be used as puppets in the coming elections.
“For democracy to work, we all need to contribute our time and effort to make a difference. The age of youth is the age of strength and vibrancy, and so we need to be deliberate on who we allow to lead us,” she said.
She emphasized the need for each young person present to inspire their peers to harness their leadership skills and be active agents of change in Sokoto state. She also called on the youths to participate fully in the ongoing continuous voter registration exercise, saying it is the best way of choosing leaders that will represent their people's interest.
Also speaking at the townhall, Yiaga Africa Program Manager, Ibrahim Faruk narrated the story of the successful campaign for the passage of the NotTooYoungToRun Bill and how the outcome of the movement is steady and encouraging. He said that in 2015, statistics from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) showed that out of over 84 million Nigerians that registered to partake in the election, 51 percent were young people. However, he lamented that the overall youth candidacy in the general election of the same year was only 21 percent.
He disclosed that the continued efforts of the NotTooYoungToRun movement is aimed at increasing the number of Young women and men with competence, character and capacity in elective offices by at least 30 percent, and more young voters participating in the election by 2023.
Participants of the town hall were young women and men from almost all the tertiary institutions of learning in Sokoto state, youth groups and members of civil societies in the state.
Speaking on behalf of the students, the Students Union Government president of Sokoto State University, Abubakar Umar Bagarawa, said “the youths are riled, and you can tell they are ready to take action. We are ready to register and collect our voter cards, and we are going to mobilize ourselves to vote in 2023.”
Also speaking at the event, Amina Muhammad, an activist and Yiaga Africa-trained Organizer expressed her readiness to participate fully in politics, adding that she and her peers have rejected in totality money politics and godfatherism.
The town hall meeting is an initiative of Yiaga Africa under its Turn Up Democracy project aimed at empowering citizens with information and tools for civic engagement, thereby enhancing the quality of their participation in democratic processes at all levels.