It was a balmy morning in the city of Kano on the 7th of August 2018; the skies were crystal-blue and puffy with white clouds. But the atmosphere was bubbling with excitement as all roads literally led to Bayero University, where the third instalment of the INEC Campus Outreach #YouthVotesCount was set to take place. Supported by the European Union and also in partnership with ECES, EU-SDGN and YIAGA Africa, the first two outreaches had successfully taken place in the cities of Abuja and Lagos, which technically covered the North Central and Southwest, it was imperative for the Northwest to come next, and Kano ended up being the chosen city. And as the first two, it promised to be anything else but thrilling!

The hall was brimming with students even before the panellists arrive. Students filled the seats, and outside at the registration booth, a crowd stood waiting to be registered for their PVCs. It was indeed, a welcoming scene as it was clear that youths are getting more engaged and interested in the electoral process, eager to be a part of the conversation about elections and governance in Nigeria.  With the 2019 elections evidently close, the need for the re-education and enlightenment of the elections, democracy in Nigeria and how the youths play a very important role in its continuance and development is needed. This is why the INEC Campus Outreach is necessary—to create the conversation, interact with youths, and encourage them to utilize their right and power to vote and make a difference in Nigeria’s governance.

The panellists/ lined up for Kano were the popular award winner artist and songwriter, Korede Bello, Kannywood actress and INEC Ambassador Nafisat Abdullahi and actor Yakub Mohammed El-Yakub. Moderated by Gimba Umar, the award winning Broadcast Journalist of Channels Television, the session began with the welcome addresses from the Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano. This was closely followed by the goodwill messages from the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Dr Benard Schlagheck and the Deputy Ambassador of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and to ECOWAS etc. Finally, the Keynote Address was given by a representative of the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu.

But the moment of the day came through—when the panellists took over the stage to interact with the students about the power of the PVC and the electoral process. They began with the reasons why the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) was necessary, and why each youth had to get them to enable them go out and vote in 2019. “Change cannot come to you in your house or while you are on your couches, you must go out and effect that change,” Nafisat Abdullahi said. She went ahead to say that no amount of money is worth anyone’s vote, and encouraged to youths to turn away from vote-selling/buying.

Yakub Mohammed El-Yakub quipped in the imperative need for youths to put all sentiments aside while choosing a candidate to vote for in elections. “Vote for whomever you feel will do the right job, irrespective of his/her political party,” he said to the crowd. He also stressed the need for youths to disengage from all sorts of electoral violence.

Lastly, Korede Bello gave some insightful words about the re-education of youths to know their rights as citizens, and the right they have to vote in a free and fair election for a democratic state. “Even more valid than getting PVCs is the need for young people to know their rights. Young people must be educated on the power of their votes.” He also stated that such right is also a constitutional right. “Getting your PVC goes beyond getting it just to vote. It is a constitutional right; a right to a better life, a better future and a better Nigeria. Next, the student volunteers made the pledge to champion the cause of PVC education in Bayero University, and to get other students involved in the conversations. As the event wound down to its closing remarks, one could glean that indeed, Kano is ready to make #YouthVotesCount!



Not Too Young To Run leads March to demand Youth Candidacy

Not Too Young to Run Movement Leads National Day of Action to demand Youth Candidacy, Democratic Party Primaries

Yesterday, Wednesday 8th August 2013, The Not Too Young To Run movement along with Young People across 33 states and Federal Capital Territory Marched to major political parties in Nigeria. The March tagged National Day of Action on Youth Candidacy and Democratic Party Primaries saw thousands of Nigerian youths move in their numbers to demand level playing ground which also include reduction of cost of nomination forms.

Speaking at the National Day of Action, Convener of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement, Mr Samson Itodo said any party that seeks the support of the youth in 2019 must do three things. According to him, they must take intentional steps to assist young people and women with disability who are seeking to run.

Samson Itodo addressing the media during the National Day of action on Youth Candidacy

”Political parties party must also reduce the cost for ruining for office and cost for nomination ”And finally, Nigerian youth want democratic and direct primaries,” he said. According to Mr Itodo, direct primaries would enhance the opportunity and the chances for young people and women with disabilities to run for political positions. He further said that there should not be imposition of candidates and automatic tickets to candidates, adding that it limits the chances of young people and women, as well as person’s with disabilities

The All Progressive Congress national treasurer, Adamu Panda, said the party has already met with 75 per cent of the demands of the group.He said the APC is the only political party which has not only given people with disabilities opportunity to contest elections at all levels but has also made their nomination free of charge.

“Nothing says what a sixty year old can do an eighteen year old can not do better. Nigeria belongs to all of us. ”Any nation that discards the youth is doing so at is own peril. ”As the party in power that sought the bill and signed the bill and it has now become a law in this country. Itodo said that the call became imperative because there were challenges hampering youths’ participation in spite of the signing into law of the age reduction bill.

According to him, the bill cannot be a reality if political parties don’t give young people who have the capacity, competence and character the opportunity to pick tickets. He said the movement also wants the parties to reduce the cost of nomination forms and running for primary election.

“This is our time. No ticket to young people, no youth votes. We want to see young people in the state Houses of Assembly, House of Reps, Senate, governors and even the presidency.” Itodo said that the movement consisted of over 50 youth groups in the country and would mobilize 50 million youths to vote against any party that failed to keep to the demands of the group.

Another key  member of the movement and founder of Connected Development, Hamzat Lawal, also highlighted that 2019 is centred around young people.”Presently in Nigeria, we have 68 political parties that do not create any enabling environment for youth in this country. ”The youth would not vote for any party that does not accommodate the young men and women in Nigeria and we would mobilise over 50 million Nigerian youth to not vote for them.”

“The group took time out to lead a procession to the national headquarters of the leading parties to urge them to operationalise the Not –Too- Young -To -Run law for the sake of young people. “The movement is demanding that political parties reserve tickets for young people with character, capacity and competence ahead of the 2019 general elections. “We are also demanding for 298 tickets out of the available 900 tickets for the Houses of Assembly election nationwide and 109 tickets out of the available 360 tickets for the House of Representatives elections nationwide.

“We are asking political parties to prescribe and enforce spending limits for party nomination fees, charges and cost for nomination of young candidates.” Mr Hamzat Lawal, another convener of the Movement, said that the group recognized that high cost of forms undermined youths.

Lawal said that that there was need for political parties to prescribe and enforce spending limits for party nomination fees and charges, adding that the cost of nomination forms should not exceed N2,000,000 for presidential aspirant.

According to him, the movement highlighted intended cost for picking nomination forms which is N2, 000, 000 for presidential aspirant, N1, 000, 000 for governorship aspirant and N600, 000 for senatorial aspirant.

He said that for state house of assembly aspirant, the form should be N200,000 while that of House of Representatives aspirant should be N400, 000.

He said that political parties should adopt transparent, democratic and direct party primaries in the candidate selections process for the 2019 general elections.

Responding on behalf of the All Progressives Congress (APC), National Working Committee (NWC), Mr Adamu Fanda, National Treasurer, said that the party was already acting on two of the demands of the group.

Fanda said that APC was the only party that did not only give persons with disability opportunity to contest but made nomination forms free for women.

He said that it was time to practice an inclusive system in Nigeria because the country belonged to everybody, adding that youths had the highest demography in Nigeria and therefore could not be ignored.

“I will convey your message to the party on the issue of reduction in nomination forms because your other demands have been met by the party except the fees.

“I assure you that youths will be carried along in the party under the leadership of Adams Oshiomhole, who is an activists and a freedom fighter so your demands would be looked into,’’ he said