It is becoming a sour taste as the new voices and energy ushered in through the signing and passing in of the Not Too Young to Run bill gradually fades into extinct. The bill which had cause uproar of excitement across Nigeria especially among the youths can now be said to be an unattainable reality. Many Nigerian youths have over the inception of the bill indicated interest for different offices come 2019 with the help of the bill which serves as a tale of faith, hope and a chance for transformation. The bill since inception becomes a well-defined setting and a realistic backbone for youth inclusion. Unfortunately, months after the Not Too Young to Run bill was signed into law, the hope and young aspirants enthusiasm to run for different positions come 2019 seems to have reduced to a large.
This may not be unconnected to the fact that political parties are adamant in maintaining outrageous nomination fees irrespective of awareness created by the Not Too Young To Run Movement. The Movement in collaboration with other Civil Society Organisations and volunteers, carried out several advocacies which included a National Day of Action across the federation with the aim of ensuring Youth candidacy and reduced cost of party nomination forms along with democratic primaries. The movement advocated for equal level-playing field for all aspirants during party primaries to ensure a transparent process.
Unfortunately, the alarming amount at which the forms were sold made sure many young aspirants had to reconsider their stand, some had recoiled back into their shell while others have decided to withdraw and come back in 2023. However, some young aspirants were determined to pursue their quest even with the high cost of obtaining a nomination form. Some also have termed Nigeria to be a country where only the rich have the power to rule.
Data from the Ready To Run movement showed that most of the young aspirants losing interest in running for various offices are those who are unable to meet up with the purchase of the party forms within the stipulated time of purchase. With the Not Too Young To Run campaign and advocacy, one will expect the cost of party forms will be made relatively affordable considering young aspirants who may not have attain that level of affluence like older aspirants. This high cost in party forms goes a long way to question the obvious, that is, if the interest of the youths were captured while passing the bill or if it was just a mere stunt for publicity and part of political campaign.
According to Sam Namo a young aspirant vying for the office of senate has frowned at the high cost of party form. Another young aspirant has suggested that the’ Not Too Young to Run’ be change to ‘Not Too Poor to Run’. As funny as this suggestion may look, it is a perfect picture that clearly shows the frustrations and predicaments of young aspirants whose dream for a better Nigeria gradually fades to thin air.
As usual, the typical Nigeria campaign circle revolves around the elites and the older generation, while youth inclusiveness which is the panacea for transformation of Nigeria from its status to a more purposeful Nation gradually becomes an unobtainable possibility. With all these, one will raise a quizzical brow as to when will the interest of youth be captured in a country that is bent on maintaining a vintage and orthodox methodology and system.
Linda Chiahaoke is a Youth Corp Member serving at YIAGA AFRICA