Not Too Young To Run Movement raises concern over the Non-Transmission of the Not Too Young To Run bill to the President For Assent

The Not Too Young To Run Movement is concerned about the delayed transmission of the age reduction bill for political office (a.k.a Not Too Young To Run bill) to the President for assent. The movement is agitated as this delay portends danger for aspiring young people ready to leverage it in the forthcoming 2019 general elections. With just over 300 days to the polls, the delay in assent to the bill not only impacts the planning of the aspirants but also has an impact on the overall intendment of the amendment itself, which is to promote inclusion and grant access to young persons in the elections. We worry that the purpose of the bill will be defeated with this delay in assent.

The movement is aware of the position of the law, which makes presidential assent a condition precedent for the passage of bills into law. In particular, section 58 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which provides inter alia ‘the power of the National Assembly to make laws shall be exercised by bills passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and, except as otherwise provided, assented to by the President’.

This provision of the law is backed by several case laws affirming the imperative of presidential assent for constitutional alteration. The judgement of the court in Olisa Agbakoba v. Federal Government and others is instructive as the Federal High Court held that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must assent to any bill altering the provisions of the Constitution before such a bill takes effect. This position was affirmed by the Supreme Court in the case of Ogboru v. Uduaghan.

We are citing the laws to bolster our position and implore the National Assembly to without further delay, forward the amendment bill to the President for assent. The urgency of this action cannot be overemphasized. Nigerian youth are ready and must be part of the 2019 elections not just as voters but as candidates. It is pertinent to remind the 8th National Assembly that history is on their side having passed the bill in the first instance. We therefore advise them not to allow any inter-agency tensions, procrastination or scheduling challenges distract them from carrying out their responsibilities to citizens especially young people, who constitute 70 percent of their constituents.  We must also stress that African best practices encapsulated in the African Union and Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) normative instruments dictate that all amendments to the constitution must be concluded at least 12 months before the elections. The delay in the passage of all these constitutional amendments raises challenges to the integrity of the electoral process. We will continue to reiterate that elections are a process, and when amendment processes are arbitrary, our democracy is threatened.

We call on the National Assembly to without any further delay forward the Not Too Young to Run Bill and other constitutional amendment bills to the President for his assent. We take the opportunity to remind the president of the importance of expeditiously signing the bill into law upon receipt from the National Assembly.

The Not Too Young to Run Movement states that it will resist all attempts to prevent the passage of the Not Too Young To bill into law by any arm of government.  We maintain as a movement that this will be a disservice that the Nigerian youth will not tolerate.

Signed.

Samson Itodo

Convener, Not Too Young To Run movement

For:

  1. Activista
  2. Abuja Global Shapers
  3. African Youth Initiative on Population, Health & Development (AfrYPoD)
  4. Connected Development [CODE]
  5. The Election Network
  6. League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN)
  7. Mind Capital
  8. The Nigerian Youth Parliament
  9. Orodata,
  10. Project Pink Blue
  11. Social Good Nigeria
  12. TechHer NG
  13. The YALI Network
  14. Youngstars Foundation
  15. Youth Hub Africa
  16. YIAGA AFRICA
  17. Amplified Radio
  18. Media Insight
  19. Say No Campaign
  20. Vision Alive Foundation, Abia
  21. Youth Initiative for Better Change, Adamawa
  22. Young Activists Initiative Nigeria, Akwa Ibom
  23. Integrity Youth Development Initiative, Anambra
  24. Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, Bayelsa
  25. The Bridge Youth Development Foundation, Benue
  26. Exit Lanes, Borno
  27. After School Centre for Career Development, Cross River
  28. DIG Foundation, Ebonyi
  29. Connected Advocacy, Edo
  30. Inspiration Care Centre, Ekiti
  31. New Century Initiative, Enugu
  32. Dandalin Matasa Initiative for Rapid Development, Gombe
  33. Development Dynamics, Imo
  34. Centre for Environmental Research and Development, Jigawa
  35. One Project Afrika. Kaduna
  36. Centre for Advocacy in Gender and Social Inclusion, Kano
  37. Youth Entrepreneurship Support Hub, Katsina
  38. Youth Consensus Forum, Kebbi
  39. Youth Emancipation for the Society (ProjectYES), Kogi
  40. Brain Builders International, Kwara
  41. Grassroots Mobilization Initiative, Nasarawa
  42. Nigerian Young Professionals Forum, Niger
  43. Youth Future Savers Initiatives, Ogun
  44. Youth Aglow Initiative, Ondo
  45. Kimpact Development Initiative, Osun
  46. Young Care Initiative, Oyo
  47. Centre for Youth Participation Advocacy, Plateau
  48. Golden Star Development Initiative, Sokoto
  49. Rural Integrated Development Initiative, Taraba#
  50. North East Youth Initiative Forum, Yobe
  51. Golden Stars Development Initiative, Zamfara
  52. Modaville Centre for Development, Lagos
  53. National Organization for Citizens Orientation (NOCO), Rivers State.
  54. Nigerian Youth Action (NYA), Rivers State, Nigeria

 

The #NotTooYoungToRun and the rest of us BY Ibrahim Kabiru Dallah

One of the concepts of the “#NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN” project is to encourage young people in Nigeria to take over the various political leadership roles in the country through a robust and effective electoral processes and stop complaining about accidental leaders.

There is no doubt our current democratic processes are expensive for young Nigerians to participate but then they should not be discouraged to seek for for political leadership positions through a democratic process.

However, it was also discovered that some of these young Nigerians sell their chances either through monetary inducement or political bargain even if they are imminently qualified and eligible. This act should be discouraged and stopped especially during electioneering period.

In recent time, we have had few young leaders that have failed in one way or the other in their cause of steering state affairs in political positions, it should not be a yardstick for measuring leadership acumen of the young people in Nigeria.

For the purpose of this piece and to encourage some of the young people in Nigeria that are currently making us proud in either the political or business arena, I want to center on prominent young Nigerians across the 36 states that are doing very well and to appeal to them to seek for leadership and elective positions in order to add value to humanity.

As a young Nigerian, I have traversed through the length and breadth of this country. The aim of these trips are to actualize the concept of our project, “#NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN”. It also afforded me the opportunity to identify some young Nigerians who are doing well in their private lives and have the capacity to change the face of our political system. The trip amongst other things is to encourage our eligible young Nigerians who have negative perception about our Nigerian politics due to its volatile nature.

Furthermore, I will share my findings and observations about some few young Nigerians whom I identified and should be encouraged to seek political office through democratic process. I will not be able to put all names here as this write up shall be continuous either in series or Parts. I will start with Nasarawa state incidentally where I hail from. Nasarawa is blessed with alot of promising young political leaders that should be encouraged. One Mohammed Musa Maikaya is an example. This young man has empowered several youth through his foundation. I believe he will impact positively on the youth and society if encouraged to seek elective political office.

In continuation of these trips, we visited Katsina state, because of its peculiarities, this is a state that had produced three Nigerian leaders and one vice-president. While late Umaru Yar’Adua was elected as a civilian president, Muhammadu Buhari was both military head of state and currently a civilian president. General Shehu Yar’Adua was chief of staff supreme headquarters, equivalent to civilian vice-president. It may interest us to know Shehu Yar’Adua attained that position at the age of 36. Katsina has also produced a former chief justice of Nigeria, two presidents of court of appeal, two directors-general of National National intelligency Agency, two directors-general of SSS and inspector-general of police.

All these people occupied the positions during their younger years.

These feat spurred us to visit the state to see if the younger ones are inspired or encouraged to run for political office. I must first and foremost commend the visionary leader, governor of Katsina, Aminu Bello Masari, for not only mentoring young people in his state but for providing them with an enabling environment and political platform to showcase their talents and what they can do for the people.

Apart from Kogi, Katsina is the ONLY state that has given over 10 young people an opportunity to serve in the current administration namely; Abubakar Sada Ilu as commissioner of land and surveying, Mustapha Kanti Bello as commissioner solid minerals, Rt. Hon. Kusada as the speaker of the Katsina state house of assembly, Ibrahim Zakari as the special adviser on international relations and investments and host of others. For that singular honour, Masari needs to be commended not condemned for always having young people at heart.

In Katsina, God has blessed them with bright many young men but there is one called Ibrahim Zakari that cannot be ignored. For the first time, I heard his name last December when I visited Dutsin Safe Low Cost Katsina, in Katsina. I understand and confirmed that his appointment is honorary which means he enjoys no financial reward or other perks of employment like salary, car, house, office running cost from the state government. He is currently the honorary special adviser (SA) to the government of the Katsina state on international relations and investments.

As we are all aware, people go into politics to make money in Nigeria but for this young Ibrahim is an exception, He has used his contacts and attracted alot of investments to Katsina. He has got investors to build a modular refinery called Blakoil refinery in his LG Mashi, and recently, I understand a group of medical team were brought in to Katsina from Saudi Arabia who conducted free eye surgery at his instance for over 3,000 people with over 500 operated upon. These are verifiable facts. All these are at zero cost to both the state and federal government.

He has also brought in investors from different countries to Katsina, and Nigeria by extension. All these information are verifiable.

To us as young people, Zakari is a mentor to Nigerian youth and should be encouraged to seek for elective leadership position in Nigeria in order to add value to humanity not only to Katsina people but Nigerians at large. I want to be like Zakari and I want to equally appeal to other young people across Nigeria to borrow a cue from his school of thought.

In Kwara, we have the likes of ambassador Abdulfatai Yahaya Gambari. In Kano, we have another shining star, Shaaban Sharadan, the personal assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on broadcast media.

Finally, more details and facts shall be produced in subsequent bulletins. For us to get it right as young people we must as a matter of necessity encourage some of us to seek for elective leadership positions and be #ReadyToRun so that the concept of the #NotTooYoungToRun project will not be defeated.

Ibrahim Kabiru Dallah, leader of the Nigerian Youth Parliament, writes from Abuja. He can be reached on Twitter @ik_dallah and email: [email protected]

 

Source: The Cable 

Nigeria’s 2019 elections: The preparations, people and prospects by Idayat Hassan

With less than a year to go, how are preparations going? Who is running? What will be the key issues?
It is now less than a year before Nigeria’s critical general elections. In those polls, currently scheduled for 16 February and 2 March 2019, tens of millions of citizens will vote in what could be some of the country’s most fiercely fought contests yet.

How are preparations going? Who is running? What will be the key issues?

Preparations for the elections
Since Mahmood Yakubu took over as chair of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 2015, the body has carried out over 167 elections. One was nullified in court. INEC has also undertaken several institutional reforms. This includes launching a new strategic plan, working on a youth engagement strategy, and reviewing its gender policy. It has promoted deserving staff and, in an unprecedented move, prosecuted officials found to have committed wrongdoing in the 2015 elections.

Ahead of 2019, the commission has set up a committee to review the voting process and transmission of tallies. For the first time since the return to democracy in 1999, INEC is also conducting continuous voter registration.

Despite these giant strides, however, the body is facing some challenges.

Because of delays caused by a dispute between the president and Senate, for example, INEC still only has 30 out of 37 Resident Electoral Commissioners, the key officials responsible for organising elections at the state level. Continuous voter registration, which opened in 2016, has also experienced glitches, with some citizens complaining of being unable to register. This led INEC to recently deploy additional registration machines and increase the number of registration centres to 1,446 nationwide. Meanwhile, the cost of running the elections may also present a challenge. This is especially the case given that Nigeria has just exited a recession.

The commission has also been given additional headaches following last month’s local elections in Kano State. In the aftermath of that poll, a video emerged showing young children thumb-printing ballot papers. INEC did not oversee that election, but some claimed it had been responsible for registering the underage voters in the first place.

In response to this criticism, the commission set up a panel to probe the alleged underage voting and examine the nearly 5 million voters on the register in Kano. INEC has previously helped other countries in West Africa clean up their electoral registers, most recently ahead of Liberia’s run-off polls in December 2017.

Who is running?
In the 2015 elections, Nigeria had 40 registered political parties. Ahead of 2019, there are now 68, with 33 more being considered for registration.

The ones to beat this time around will be the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). This party was created ahead of 2015 through a merger of what were then the country’s four biggest opposition parties. Its growing ranks were further boosted when several figures from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in power at the time, crossed the floor.

In the election, the APC enjoyed an historic victory and ended the PDP’s political dominance, which had lasted since 1999. But since those heights, internal rivalries have come to the fore and prevented it from emerging as a cohesive force. The APC continues to run as an amalgam of the interests that created it in the first instance, with intra-party disputes emerging at both federal and state levels.

The incumbent President Buhari is the front runner to be the party’s flagbearer in 2019. However, aside from his mixed record in office, his advanced age of 75 and ill health could arise as an issue. Many are asking whether he will be fit to govern if re-elected, especially given that he spent several months of his first term receiving treatment in London for an undisclosed ailment.

The main opposition PDP has faced similar infighting to the APC since 2015. After the election, the party faced a bitter legal battle over the leadership of the party with Ahmed Makarfi eventually confirmed as the party chair. Since then, the PDP has held a national convention in which new officials were elected. Some regions were marginalised, however, and the party has yet to calm concerns about the state of its internal democracy or shed its reputation for corruption, which it developed over its 16 years in office.

Several candidates are lining up to bid to be the PDP’s presidential nominee. They include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who recently crossed over from the APC. Often described as a serial defector, Atiku has commenced consultations and is regularly voicing his opinions on policy matters. At 71, his age and unproven corruption allegations remains the albatross around his neck. Other aspirants from the PDP include controversial governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, and former governors of Kaduna and Jigawa, Ahmed Makarfi and Sule Lamido respectively.

Along with these two big parties, Nigeria could, for the first time, also see a powerful third party emerge in 2019. The most popular phrase in the country today is “Third Force” and various groupings are attempting to harness the appetite for an alternative to the APC and PDP.

30 opposition parties have joined forces under the banner of the Coalition for a New Nigeria (CNN). Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has helped set up the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM). And groups such as the Nigerian Intervention Movement, Revive Nigeria and Emerging Leaders’ Summit are also trying to jostle for position. Regarding the presidency, the likes of motivational speaker Fela Durotoye, former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria Kingsley Moghalu, and founder of the online whistleblowing site Sahara Reporter Omoyele Sowore have all expressed their intention to challenge the main parties’ candidates.

At the same time, citizen-led groups are also making their voices heard. The Red Card Movement, led by former minister and #BringBackOurGirls campaigner Oby Ezekwesili, is calling for the APC and PDP to be “sent off”. Meanwhile, the Not Too Young To Run movement is demanding the inclusion of young people in the political space.

Unfortunately, there is less momentum behind efforts seeking to enhance the participation of women in politics. Less than 6% of Nigeria’s lawmakers are female, one of the lowest proportion in Africa, and while more marginal parties may make space for women and youth to lure voters, the same is likely to be less true of the big parties.

The issues that will determine the 2019 Nigeria elections
Insecurity
One of the biggest issues that will determine the 2019 general elections is insecurity, which is affecting communities across the country. Ongoing instability could affect the vote itself and will certainly be a big issue on the campaign trail.

On Boko Haram in the North East, the APC will claim to have successfully tackled the insurgency. The PDP and other opposition parties will argue against this and likely emphasise the dire humanitarian situation. The candidates may try to woo internally-displaced persons as the election nears.

Another matter will be the conflict between herders and farmers, which has arguably become Nigeria’s most pressing internal security threat. As hundreds have died in clashes over land disputes in a dozen states, the Buhari administration has been criticised for its poor handling of the issue. The conflict – and lack of accountability for heinous crimes – predates the APC’s rule, but its severity and death toll have escalated in recent years.

In the South East, Biafra separatists continue to call for independence. The most prominent voice in this is the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), whose leader Nnamdi Kanu has been missing for several months. The group has vowed that no election will take place in the south east until a referendum on secession is called.

Finally, gang violence has resulted in several deaths recently, particularly in the Niger Delta and South-South region. Worrying, these groups are often instrumentalised by politicians around elections.

The economy
The economy will be another crucial issue. Nigeria is still suffering from a fuel scarcity, while the economic downturn continues. When Buhari came into office, the price of dollar was around N170. Today that figure is closer to N360.

Nigeria exited its first recession in 25 years in the second quarter of 2017, but growth remains sluggish. The country continues to depend on oil, while un- and under-employment have increased notwithstanding the administration’s novel social intervention programmes (SIP).

Corruption
Buhari rode to victory in 2015 as the anti-corruption candidate, vowing to launch a war on graft. Corruption will once again be an important issue, but the incumbent will struggle to present himself as the same clean crusader this time around.

While Buhari has embarked on some anti-corruption measures, critics note that his allies have avoided prosecution. Various of his associates have been fingered in scams, such as his chief-of-staff Abba Kyari, while the president has been perceived to have targeted his opponents.

The uncoordinated approach taken by agencies in the fight against corruption have contributed to the fact that Nigeria has actually dropped 12 places from 136 to 148 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

Social media, fake new, misinformation and disinformation
As in politics and elections across the world, social media is set to play a major role in Nigeria’s 2019 campaign.

In the 2015 elections, hate speeches and misinformation spread far and wide, with Buhari targeted in particular. After the elections, incredible rumours and lies continued to abound, to the extent that there were even allegations that the man that eventually returned from London after prolonged illness was not in fact the real Buhari, but a cloned version from Sudan.

Ahead of the recently concluded Anambra governorship elections, we saw another example of how fast-spreading misinformation could almost skew a process. Rumours emerged on social media that soldiers had invaded schools in Ozobulu, Anambra State, and were forcefully injecting pupils with poisonous substances that cause monkey pox. This led to the shutdown of schools in Imo, Enugu, Abia, Anambra and Ebonyi state and even affected Rivers and Balyesa states. The false story was said to have been posted on the Facebook page of the IPOB, which had vowed to disrupt any elections in the region.

Nigeria’s social media space is generally highly susceptible from manipulation by influential individuals with vested interests and little sense of electoral ethics. They are ready to confuse or divide people along ethnic, religious or other lines to serve their own ends. In 2015, the PDP recruited Cambridge Analytica. In 2019, those with sufficient resources may again solicit the services of international PR firms with records of employing questionable methods.

Source: AfricaArgument

27-year Old Maryam Launshi Appointed National Publicity Secretary, Modern Political Party

Maryam Laushi, a communication specialist and youth activist, has emerged as the National Publicity Secretary of the Modern Democratic Party, the youth-focused platform intended to galvanise Nigerian youths into engaging in policy formulation, government accountability and running for political office.

As a pioneer member of the Not Too Young To Run leadership team, Maryam is also one of Nigeria’s recognisable voices in raising awareness for gender equality, social justice and youth inclusion in politics, while also excelling in advocacy for women, girl-child education and her principled activism about social issues.

Maryam also holds a Masters degree in Marketing Management from Coventry University, United Kingdom, including a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Marketing.

In 2017, she emerged as one of the awardees of the SME100 Nigeria’s 25 under 25 award for Active Citizenry.

She also voluteers for the non-profit Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), while also leading on other activities and dialogues that have attracted national attention. Maryam believes in a greater future for Nigeria, and the role of young citizens in playing critical roles for national development.

Source: Ynaija

“Young people are not just the future of Nigeria. They are Nigeria today.” By Orji Sunday

Increasing youth representation in Nigeria’s closed political system will be an uphill battle, but Not Too Young To Run activists are ready to fight.
Near the heart of government in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, a defiant Chioma Agwuegbo thrusts her placard into the air. Her voice adds to the swelling chants coming from demonstrators all around her.

After a while, she wriggles to the front of the hundreds-strong crowd assembled near the National Assembly and Presidential Villa at Aso Rock. With her fellow protesters occasionally echoing her words and phrases in affirmation, Agwuegbo loudly articulates the young protesters’ demand that President Muhammadu Buhari sign a new youth bill into law.

“We have been on this journey for 18 months,” she declares to her fellow activists. “We got the National Assembly to say yes to this bill. We got 35 states to say yes to this bill. We are on the final stretch to get the assent of Mr. President. That’s the reason why we are gathered here today.”

The “Not Too Young To Run” bill she is referring to would reduce constitutional age limits for various elected positions. Minimum ages would be reduced from 40 to 30 for the presidency, from 35 to 30 for governors, and from 30 to 25 for members of the House of Representatives.

Momentum behind this act is coming from Not Too Young To Run activists. Led by advocacy group YIAGA, this movement has been gathering steam in calling for greater youth participation in Nigerian politics since 2016.

According to Agwuegbo, the group wants to correct young people’s huge under-representation in politics. Nearly 70% of Nigeria’s population of 180 million people are aged below 35, yet they are virtually nowhere to be seen in the corridors of power.

According to Chikodiri Nwangwu at University of Nigeria’s department of political science, there are many factors behind the lack of youth representation. Age limits are one small piece of a big puzzle.

He notes that young Nigerians are less likely to vote than their older counterparts and suggests that the youth may be more likely to engage politically through less mainstream avenues. He also adds that apathy – built up in response to decades of government corruption and failed leadership – may also be behind some young Nigerians’ self-perpetuating disillusionment and detachment from traditional politics.

“Over the years, the youths have lost hope in the entire electoral process,” he says. “When they vote, they know it will not be reflected in the system. They decide to stay away instead of making a contribution to a system that mocks their efforts.”

Where did Nigeria’s young people go?
This set of factors has led to a situation in which Nigerians under the age of 35 are largely absent from government. But this was not always the case.

In the colonial era, young Nigerians led in the struggle for independence. As early as 1944, Nmandi Azikiwe, still in his 30s, founded the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroun (NCNC). Meanwhile, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Belawa, Almadu Bello and Samuel Akintola, amongst many others in their 20s and 30s, rose to prominence through their activism.

After independence in 1960, however, this trend began to dissipate. The golden era was not replaced with new young leaders, and by the 1980s, there were only a few politicians under 40. At the same time, youth movements calling for democracy and human rights were forcibly clamped down by the military regimes of the day.

When Nigeria returned to multi-party democracy in 1999, there was optimism that the new system would prove more inclusive. But while youths hoped to be at the new vanguard of political progress, they were more often drafted to serve as thugs and henchmen for the same older political class.

Young people’s significance in Nigerian politics diminished, and apathy grew. Today, the youngest member of the parliament at the national level is 43.

Taking on Nigeria’s political landscape
Agwuegbo and the Not Too Young To Run movement wants to turn this around and see more youths in parliament again. They believe that if young people were to run and win in the elections, they could foster a more inclusive politics from within. They could introduce new perspectives and spearhead much-needed innovation in Nigeria’s governance systems. With the 2019 elections on the horizon, Agwuegbo believes youth movements can help carry suitable candidates to office.

However, some analysts argue that the barriers may prove greater than the activists expect. Nwangwu, for example, suggests that young candidates will not get far unless there are more extensive changes to the broader electoral system and political culture too.

“This movement can make an impact but its impact is minimal,” he says. “Their activism may just slip into insignificance if there is no back up electoral reforms or if the monetary aspects of our politics are not resolved.”

Nwangwu emphasises that money plays a huge role in Nigerian politics and successful election campaigns.

“It’s one thing to be ambitious and it’s another thing to have the resources to bring your ambition to life,” he says. “Politics is extremely costly in Nigeria. At every stage in our politics, a whole lot of money is involved both at the local and national level. Most of these youths are recent graduates, unemployed or under-employed. They can barely take three square meals a day. ”

Political analyst Nwafor Justice also believes young hopefuls will find the political terrain hostile. Ethnic, regional and other divisions may make it difficult for candidates to attract young voters in a coherent way that cuts across these lines. Meanwhile, the existing political system is set up in the way that can make it difficult for new runners.

“The two major political parties would not open up the space for younger politicians to contest through their platform,” says Justice. “Unless the government introduces independent candidacy [allowing candidates to run without a party platform], the youths would not find a way around this.”

To really make an impact, Justice argues, young people need to create their own political party. This does not seem to be on the cards for now.

Many young Nigerians insist they are well-aware of the tough challenges they face going forwards. For some, these hurdles are simply too many and too high. But Agwuegbo and her fellow activists say it will take one step at a time. Getting the Not Too Young To Run bill signed into law is just one such step, but they say its progress shows the growing power young people have seized already.

“The successes we have recorded with the movement so far are historic in themselves because it shows the power of young people to change the nation and bring glory to Nigeria,” says Agwuegbo.

“We have proven that young people are not just the future of Nigeria. They are Nigeria today.”

Source: Africaargument

2019 Elections: INEC targets 80 million voters

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday said that the commission was targeting registration of 80 million Nigerians in the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) ahead of the 2019 .

The Chairman of the INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said this at a dialogue with a coalition of Civil Society Organisations in Abuja .

Yakubu, who was represented by Prof Okey Ibeanu, an INEC National Commissioner, said that so far, the commission had added other four million registrants to the voters’ register so there were around 72, 73 million registrants.

He said that if the rate of registration being experienced was anything to go by, the number would approach 80 million by the time the process was concluded.

He said that the commission expended between N115 billion and N120 billion on the 2015 polls.

“Elections are not really coming cheap in Nigeria so to speak; the 2015 election cost the country between 115 and 120 billion naira.

“Compared to that of 2015, the 2019 election budget would be affected by the current exchange rate of naira to dollars.

“Now you can do a computation, 150 naira to the dollar in 2015 and 300 to the dollar right now. You can then imagine what the present election might cost,” he said.

Yakubu explained that the electoral umpire had done everything possible to keep the budget for the 2019 election consistent with the exiting realities of the country.

“Again, this goes back to the question of concluding on the electoral legal framework because if you are going to do transmission by law from the polling units that means additional cost.

“If you are going to have an additional round of election, that will mean additional cost.

“So these are some of the issues that tie the electoral legal framework to the budget, to the planning.”

The INEC chairman said that the Electoral Act provided that 60 days into a new year or not later than 60 days into a new year, the commission should avail political parties the list of registered voters from the previous year.

He said that the commission had already complied with that, adding that political parties received the registered voters from 2017 about two or three weeks ago.

Yakubu sought partnership with the civil society organisations (CSOs) and other stakeholders on how to deal with high cost of conducting election in the country.

He expressed the hope that in the long term, partnership was one major area that INEC, Situation Room and other stakeholders would engage to see how to deal with the question of cost of election.

He said that there were already discussions going on collaboration but needed to be taken more seriously.

He added that the budget for the election had been completed and submitted to government and the commission was still awaiting reaction.

The Convener of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Mr Clement Nkanwko, said the essence of the meeting was to engage INEC on how far it had fared .

Nwankwo said that there was need for Nigerians to know the improvement made on the ongoing continuous voters’ registration.

He said this would enable the commission to know how it could improve on the process towards making 2019 poll a success.

Source: NigerianPilot

More youths register with Modern Democratic Party

Nigerian youths are showing more interest politics, many of them registering with the newly registered Modern Democratic Party (MDP). With the ‘Not Too Young to Run’ Bill still pending approval by President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerian youths have started to position themselves for political leadership and active participation in the upcoming 2019 elections and beyond.

The new party, led by 27-year old activist and entrepreneur, Prince Bukunyi Olateru-Olagbegi, represents the new face of active youth involvement in politics. Recently registered by Nigeria’s top electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the party intends to galvanise youths into engaging in policy formulation, government accountability and running for political office.

According to Olateru-Olagbegi, the party belongs solely to Nigerians who yearn to see a difference in politics and governance. He explained that the mission of the party is to be home for those who are weary of the status quo and want to be part of something fresh, new, untainted and different.

“We are focused on harnessing the mental and physical resources of this unique generation of youth brimming with fresh ideas and innovations which will finally put Nigeria in its rightful place on the world stage,” Olateru-Olagbegi said.

“We know that the journey ahead of us will be long. This is not a party registered for the 2019 presidential elections. We are here for the long haul and wish to call on all true patriots of our fatherland to get involved as we embark on this journey towards building Nigeria’s first and truly Modern Democratic Party.”

Last year, the Nigerian Senate passed the Not Too Young To Run Bill which seeks age reduction for elective officers in the country and allows the youths an opportunity to contest for the office of the president at the age of 35, and governor or senator at the age of 30.

As young people across the country are calling on President Buhari to assent to the bill, the Modern Democratic Party has gone ahead to unveil its manifesto and planned activities in preparation for next year’s general elections.

Source: The Nation

British High Commissioner Lauds Nigerian Youths Over NotTooYoungToRun Bill

British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright has commended YIAGA Africa and young Nigerians for securing the passage of the Age Reduction Bill, popularly referred to as #NotTooYoungToRun Bill by both National and State Houses of Assembly, as the bill awaits Presidential assent.  Mr. Arkwright stated this during the Commonwealth Big Lunch event on Thursday in Abuja.

The Big Lunch event had participants from various Youth Organizations in attendance, including YIAGA Africa. In his address, Mr. Arkwright noted that, the Big Lunch event in Nigeria is themed around Youths who are important to the Commonwealth as 60 per cent of Commonwealth Nations citizens are below 30 years of age. He further stated that, 40 per cent of the world youth live in Commonwealth countries and 1 Billion people living in Commonwealth countries are under 25 years of age.

The High Commissioner noted that, activities of youth organizations are important to the Commonwealth and matters to the future of Nigeria as well, saying young people in Nigeria face challenges and the good work youth organizations carry out provide solutions to those challenges.

Citing example of efforts of young people in Nigeria, the High Commissioner stated, “For example, you should all be proud of your role to secure the passage of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill, a reform that has been long overdue and a reform that I and a number of other High Commissioners here present have also supported. I was delighted to meet the YIAGA Group earlier and many congratulations to you for pushing through. I hope that it leads and open the doors to greater youth participation in politics and in policy making throughout Nigeria.”

“Activities of youth organizations are very important to the Commonwealth and matters to the future of Nigeria. British Prime Minister Theresa May have put youth at the heart of the upcoming CommonWealth Summit in London. She has invited youth delegates to address commonwealth leaders in New York in September to talk about their vision for the Commonwealth”, he said

Employment, Climate Change, Peace and Security and how to improve trade amongst Commonwealth countries are all part of the agenda for the September Summit according to the High Commissioner.

“At the Summit before the leaders meet, there will be a Commonwealth Youth Forum that will provide the opportunity for young people of the Commonwealth to build cross-cultural connections and networks to debate the challenges facing young people and to agree youth-led initiatives to influence decision makers and to ensure young people have a voice in their future”, he added

“I encourage you to see the Commonwealth as a network and vehicle for supporting your campaigns on behalf of young people in Nigeria. My team and I look forward to working with you on the commitment that would be made at the London Summit.

The future of Nigeria is the future of young people and if young people are not included in that debate, then the future of Nigeria will but be a happy one. I am confident that it will be a happy one because people like you will be involved and I encourage you to stay involved and get involved in elections and vote. Make sure your votes count”, he concluded.

Electronic Transfer Of Poll Results : Massive Step Forward

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently stated that results collated at the polling units would be electronically transmitted during the 2019 general elections. Electronic transmission of results is no doubt commendable considering its potency in authenticating veracity of results as well as relevance in discouraging alteration of results at the polling units as well as collation centres. It would also be relevant in reducing disputes arising from results collated and announced as all the parties and stakeholders would have access to proper means of verification of final vote tallies. Electronic transmission of results will also bequeath the electoral process with efficiency of the electoral process as well as timely announcement of final outcome of election.

It is recalled that Nigeria’s electoral process has suffered huge credibility deficit as a result of untoward Election Day practices such as alteration of result sheets, falsification of poll results, mutual illicit vote allocations by parties or candidates, duplication of result sheets to create confusion as well as ballot box snatching to perpetrate falsification of result. The absence of means of proper authentication of poll outcome has provided incentive for these malpractices which most often degenerate to post-election violence and thwarting of the popular will and mandate of the people. Untidy electoral process that creates loopholes for manipulation could no longer be an acceptable practice as it undermines popular choice in determining the heath of any democratic system.

It is therefore heart-warming that INEC is finally taking appropriate steps to address the lingering challenges of malpractices associated with manipulation of poll results. Electronic transmission of results will consolidate the gains already recorded with the introduction of Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) and Card Readers in the 2015 general elections. The move by INEC to have all results transmitted electronically at the end of vote count will significantly reduce criminal tendencies of desperate politicians who have indulge in electoral malfeasance for too long a period unmindful of the negative consequences on the democratic process. We therefore urge that INEC be given necessary support to clean up the electoral process and further strengthen the democratic process.

Notwithstanding, it is imperative to reiterate the need for INEC to ensure that transmission of election is diligently carried and devoid of controversies. It is noteworthy that INEC has already assured that a separate software has been developed for the purposes of transmitting election results from the polling units. However, arrangement being proposed with the National Communication Commission (NCC) must be thoroughly worked out to enable the relevant Telecommunication company properly deploy their technical capabilities for the seamless execution of electronic transmission of poll results.

If the proposed method of electronic transmission of results becomes successful, there are huge prospects that the overriding effect would have invested a new level of confidence in the Nigeria’s electoral process. We therefore emphasise that beyond INEC, Nigerians irrespective of political persuasions and level of scepticism should see the initiative as another strategic step in the journey towards credible election in Nigeria. Political parties in particular should consider their roles as partners in ensuring the success of electronic transmission of results as some of the concerns relating to Election Day malpractices would have been substantially if not totally eliminated if electronic transmission of results becomes a success in subsequent elections. It is nevertheless expected INEC will do all that is necessary to ensure that the investment in the proposed initiative accomplishes the objectives and purposes.

More importantly, INEC must begin to address, in earnest, likely challenges such as power failure, telecommunication network failure, logistics for accessing nooks and crannies of the country that may crop up across the country in the process of transmitting results electronically. Perhaps INEC should consider test-running the initiative during the conduct of Ekiti and Osun governorship elections coming up later in 2018 as a way of fine-tuning associated logistics towards achieving unimpeded electronic transmission of election results. Whereas challenges are not unexpected with the use of technology in our clime, it is expected that proactive measures would be carefully taken into account and relevant contingency plans put in place to address anticipated hiccups.

Source: Independent

Raging Battle over Election Sequence

The battle of wits between the National Assembly and the Presidency over an amendment to the Electoral Act, reordering the sequence of the 2019 elections is showing no sign of abating, writes Omololu Ogunmade

Eventually, President Muhammadu Buhari lived up to the expectation of most Nigerians during the week when he announced that he had vetoed the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018 sent to him by the National Assembly for assent.
The bill has been a subject of controversy since the House of Representatives during one of its deliberations, opted to reorder the sequence of the 2019 elections as against the timetable already announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Whereas INEC had scheduled the presidential election to come first along with National Assembly polls on February 16, 2019, and governorship and houses of assembly elections on March 2, the House of Representatives opted to break the traditional tie of the presidential election with National Assembly polls by rearranging the scheduled polls, with National Assembly polls coming first in the bill and the presidential election coming last.

This idea quickly excited the Senate, which had earlier passed its own version of the bill without dabbling into election sequence by quickly buying it and hence, during the conference committee meeting of both chambers of the National Assembly on February 6, the proposed reordering of the polls by the House was adopted.

The intensity of the controversy generated by the decision overshadowed several other amendments in the bill to such an extent that election sequence seemed to be the only amendment carried out in the bill. However, this move did not go down well with the presidency which saw it as a threat to the chances of Buhari at the forthcoming polls.

Last month, during one of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings in the State House, the presidency summoned INEC officials to the meeting. Although there was no briefing thereafter on what FEC discussed with INEC, a presidential source told THISDAY that the controversy on sequence of elections was discussed but not meant for public consumption.

Few days after, INEC insisted that notwithstanding the passage of the bill, its initial election schedule remained sacrosanct. Since then, the National Assembly had awaited the president’s veto and quietly began to mobilise its members to override it.

In the amendment, the National Assembly inserted a new Section 25(1) into the bill with the intention to make election sequence a legal matter. Opponents of the provision believe that the new provision violates Section 76 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which places the sole responsibility of fixing election dates on the electoral body.

The new provision in the bill states that elections shall be held in the following order: (a) National Assembly elections (b) State Houses of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) Presidential election without assigning dates.

Consequently, the National Assembly has been quick to defend its action, saying it did not perform INEC function by fixing election dates but only spelt out election sequence. It also argued that its decision was in compliance with Section 4(2) of the constitution which empowers it to make laws for peace, order and good governance of the country.

But the president and his men believe that the action of the National Assembly was in bad faith as in their own perspective, it was deliberately conceived to turn the table against the president at the forthcoming polls, an allegation the National Assembly has rejected.

According to the Chairman, House Committee on INEC, Edward Pwajok, the controversial election sequence was not targeted at anyone as believed but rather a move meant to provide Nigerians with the platform to make quality decision on choices of candidates for National Assembly polls.

“The sequence of election provision in the bill is not targeted at anybody but aimed at giving credibility to the electoral process. This is by giving the electorate the opportunity to vote based on qualities of candidates vying for National Assembly seats,” Pwajok had said.

But the president, in his letter conveying his veto on the bill to the National Assembly, did not cite the introduction of sequence of elections into the bill as the main reason for his decision. He however cited other amendments in the bill, which he said informed his decision.

Although his letter was dated March 8, 2018, it was only read by presiding officers of both houses of the National Assembly on March 13. Therein, he stated without ambiguity that the National Assembly by the insertion of Section 25(1) in the bill was attempting to usurp INEC powers to fix elections dates. He also cited other amendments, which he disagreed with.

“Pursuant to Section 58(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate, my decision, on 3rd March 2018, to decline Presidential Assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly.

“Some of my reasons include the following: the amendment to the sequence of elections in Section 25 of the Principal Act, may infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission to organise, undertake and supervise elections provided in Section 15(A) of the third statue to the Constitution;

“The amendment to Section 138 of the Principal Act to delete two crucial grounds upon which an election may be challenged by candidates, unduly limits the rights of candidates in elections to a free and fair electoral review process; and

“The amendment to Section 152(3)-(5) of the Principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections,” the letter read.
But 24 hours after the letter was read, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja granted an interlocutory injunction brought by Accord Party, restraining the National Assembly from commencing the process of overriding the president’s veto.

The motion was a faster approach than the earlier suit by an Abuja-based legal practitioner, Chyma Anthony, who had on March 6, filed a suit asking the court to determine, if among other things, National Assembly by its action had not usurped the powers of INEC to fix election dates and consequently violated provisions of the 1999 Constitution which empower INEC to perform such function.

The plaintiff also prayed the court to specify if any other body reserves the right to exercise perceived INEC’s constitutional power on election matters including election schedule and its sequence.

However, the court injunction restraining the National Assembly from proceeding to override the president’s veto on Wednesday, provoked anger in the Senate, prompting it to write the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, asking him to call his men to order.

In the opinion of the senators, following a motion moved by the Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, members of the judicial arm of government were violating the principle of separation of powers by interfering in the affairs of the legislature, another arm of government.

Akpabio warned that the trend might be a dangerous precedent, which another person might explore in the nearest future to stop the legislature from performing its functions.

However, the president’s decision to veto the bill as some may want to believe, might have been predicated on his belief that the National Assembly would find it impossible to secure a two-third majority of each of the chambers that is required to override his veto.

Already, the All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus in each chamber is divided on the matter while the minority members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are unanimous in their preparedness to override the veto. At the last count, only 22 of 66 APC members and 43 PDP members in the Senate have reportedly indicated interest in overriding the president’s veto.

In all, 73 of 109 members are required to override the veto in the chamber, but that is if they are all present at such a sitting otherwise it would be the two-thirds of members present that is required to make the override possible. In otherwise, that makes the decision to override the president easier. Unfortunately, it does appear the presidency is not aware of this development.

Nevertheless, the politics between the executive and the legislature on the bill, if not quickly nipped in the bud, holds the possibility of affecting the 2019 polls and throwing the country into crisis as a protocol of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) stipulates that the Electoral Act must be ready at least six months before the general election.

This implies that this battle for supremacy should not exceed July next year as it may call to question the validity of the polls. It is against this background that the question being asked is: when will common sense prevail between the two arms of government?
The crux of the matter is politics and it is that National Assembly’s insistence on having its own election first and the presidential election last is meant to checkmate the huge influence of the presidential election on other elections. Thus, the output of the first poll always rubs off on other elections, acting as the compass for the electorate to follow in other polls.

For instance, the victory of the APC in the 2015 presidential poll swayed victory in favour of the party in other polls. This appears to be the fear of the ruling APC if the presidential election comes last.
On the other hands, there are those who believe in the National Assembly that the president, in view of his handling of some issues in the polity in recent times, has lost goodwill and may lose at the presidential poll, a situation they believe may have bandwagon effects on them.

But, when will this battle end, at least, in national interest? This is the rhetorical question agitating the minds of many Nigerians, who believe that this contest between the two arms of government is both selfish and needless.
Besides, the decision by the Senate to drag the judiciary into the battle through its letter to CJN has made the battle a tripartite war among the three main organs of government. Where and when will this intrigue end? That is the question expected to be answered by unfolding events as even foreign countries such as the United States and United Kingdom are keenly watching the scenario.

Although the president reportedly met Thursday evening with the leadership of the National Assembly with a view to resolving the stalemate, it didn’t see like they found a middle ground yet as far as the matter is concerned.
Only recently, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, told the Deputy Senate President, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, when he visited him that Britain was interested in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.

“The legislative programme, which you have in the Senate and the National Assembly, the changes to the electoral laws are also important to us”, he said. But as it is, only time will tell therefore, where the pendulum will swing in the end.

Source: This Day