Yiaga Africa Supports Youth and Female Candidates Running in the Enugu Local Government Elections
Young men and women running for the Enugu local government elections scheduled for 23rd February, 2022, were hosted by Yiaga Africa at the RunToWinNG Town Hall meeting that was held on the 4th of February 2022 in Enugu, Enugu state. The Town Hall meeting afforded these young candidates the opportunity to openly liaise with the officials of their various parties on ways to equip and support more young men and women to effectively run and win elections in the state. Speaking at the event, Governance and Development Program Manager, Yiaga Africa, Ibrahim Faruk stated that the Town Hall was a part of the organization’s commitment to encourage youth participation in the governance process as Candidates and Voters. He explained that as a follow-up to the enactment of the Not Too Young To Run Act in 2018 which afforded youths the opportunity to be active participants in Nigeria’s democracy, the RunToWinNG project was started to ensure to encourage young men and women to run for elective offices as part of enhancing the country’s democracy. Speaking at the event, the Enugu State Chairman of Action Alliance (AA) party, Mr Ogbonna Festus affirmed his party’s support for young Candidates, stating that the party understands the need for continuity and growth and continues to encourage youth membership and candidacy. This was also echoed by the State Secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Albert Emenike Princewill, who said that the party fielded only people below age 45 for the coming elections. He announced that the party not just supports youth candidacy, but also encourages women to run for public office too. Speaking as a panelist at the event, the Enugu State Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Ndubuisi Enechonyia expressed disappointment in the security agents in the state. According to him, his party would always support its young members and they would be given a fair chance to contest and represent the party on merit; however, their members were always contending with candidates from APC and PDP at the elections who had the support of security agents. He added that youths might not go far in politics if they do not learn to support each other. “Young men and women must learn to organize themselves better if they want to hold public office. We cannot have the older generation working hard to support you and then some of you turn around to become thugs for the bigger parties, some sell off their vote for chicken change while others willingly vote for older candidates. What then is the point?” He complained. He narrated his experience in previous elections where he had to confront some security agent he caught threatening some members of grassroot communities and coercing them to vote for specific candidates and he enjoined more civil societies to join Yiaga Africa to observe elections. “Local government elections are regarded as small elections. That is why they are ignored. But a lot goes on there. This is an important part of the governance process and must be taken as seriously as we take Gubernatorial elections. We hope that many civil societies can be present during the elections in Enugu as independent observers to help us monitor the activities of both ENSIEC and security agents. This will discourage foul play.” he said. In response to some of the young candidates present who asked for the support of Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC) to end election rigging, Dr Anike Nweze, ENSIEC State Commissioner explained that there is a limit to what ENSIEC can do when it comes to security. But on the part of fairness in collating votes, ENSIEC is the standard. He said, “ENSIEC is committed to ensuring fair elections in Enugu state but we must all play our part. If everybody does the right thing, we can have better elections. We cannot organize elections, count votes, collate numbers and still make sure citizens maintain a clean conscience”. The Enugu State Local Government Elections will be held on the 23rd of February 2022.