Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) of youth candidates in the 2019 elections
In the build-up to the general elections, YIAGA AFRICA with support from the Department for International Development (UKAID) undertook an assessment of youth candidates’ campaign activities to identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). The SWOT analysis was designed to facilitate evidence based and constructive engagement with youth candidates running for office in the 2019 elections. The outcome of the study serves as a resource for supporting youth candidates and promoting youth participation in politics. It is designed to enhance the quality of public discourse on youth participation in politics and facilitate data driven programming on civic engagement and political representation.
YIAGA AFRICA recruited, trained and deployed 37 field researchers to 34 states of the federation to study the campaigns of 99 candidates from 36 parties. The candidates were purposively sampled from the 334 youth candidates on YIAGA AFRICA ‘Ready To Run’ online platform. The methodology also entailed in-depth interviews with Interest or Influential Group Leaders in the constituencies of the candidates. Measures were taken by YIAGA AFRICA to ensure the findings of the study represent as much as possible, the general perceptions of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to youth candidates as identified by the respondents that participated in the research.
Key Findings of the SWOT Analysis
- Strengths of Youth Candidates
- The popularity of youth candidates or parties, projects undertaken by youth candidates in their constituencies, personal leadership qualities, candidates’ visibility to the various categories of voters, financial backing and strong party structure, were identified as strengths by youth candidates and IGLs interviewed.
- 37% of youth candidates acknowledged that they received some form of financial support from their political parties.
- 21% of the IGLs surveyed considered qualities such as compassion, being truthful and respectful; being a visionary leader and being academically sound, among others, as the major strengths of the youth-candidates. This observation however varied significantly by geopolitical zone.
- Weaknesses of Youth Candidates
- Inadequate funding/inability to access enough funds, unpopularity of a youth candidate’s party platform, political inexperience, gender, religious and ethnic discrimination and candidates’ inability to meet with local, community or constituency associations, were considered as key weaknesses by the youth candidates.
- Three out of five, 59.9% of the youth candidates, identified inadequate finance as a major weakness and challenge to their electoral success.
- Only 26% of IGLs identified funding as an important limitation for youth candidates.
- 7% of IGLs were of the view that failure of the youth candidates to reach out to influential members in their constituencies was a serious weakness.
- Opportunities of Youth Candidates
- Availability of and access to social media as a tool of mass communication and mobilisation; unpopularity of the incumbent, popularity of the youth candidates’ party platform especially in their own constituencies, were all identified by IGLs as opportunities for youth candidates, and if utilised effectively, they could enhance their electoral chances.
- The most popular media used by the youth candidates were Facebook (used by 91 of 99 candidates), posters (87) and WhatsApp (85). This supports the view that youth candidates are very active on social media platforms which they could convert into opportunities to garner support from young voters.
- About a quarter or 24.2% of the youth candidates identified increased voter education, increased awareness created on Radio/TV, 3%; empowering the youth, 20.2%, as opportunities.
- 17.3% of the IGLs interviewed believed that the ‘youthfulness’ of youth candidates is an opportunity that could be leveraged upon to mobilize young voters who constitute the majority of the voting population. This view was corroborated by majority of the leaders in North-West, 4.6%, and North-East, 4.2%.
- 33.3% of youth candidates acknowledged that more consultations, giving gifts to traditional rulers, access to a vehicle or vehicles for political campaigns, and using the mass media as campaign platforms, presented opportunities to be explored further.
- 13.6% of the IGLs identified zoning, being a female, the only youthful candidate in the election, as potential opportunities, which if skilfully mobilised, could enhance the chances of youth candidates at the polls.
- Youth candidates were of the view that the unpopularity of an incumbent presented them an opportunity, especially for those of them in the major parties.
- Threats of Youth Candidates
- Electoral malpractices, destruction of candidates’ billboards, posters and fliers, verbal attacks and physical violence against the youth candidates and their supporters; conflict between the youth candidates and the leaderships of their political parties, competing against opponents with strong financial war chest, were identified by the youth candidates as electoral threats.
- 45.3% of the youth candidates believed that the actions of their opponents had negative impacts on their campaign, while only 6.3% believed that their opponents’ actions had a positive impact on their political activities and chances.
- 48.4% of youth candidates averred that their political opponents’ actions had no impact on their campaigns, but 46.9% of youth candidates confirmed that they suffered verbal or physical attacks from their political opponents;
- 4.8%, of youth candidates claimed that discrimination and intimidation on the basis of their age or gender, was a threat while only 3% believed that absence of or vague track record, and lack of a political godfather were threats to their chances of success in the 2019 elections.
Chances of Youth Candidates at the 2019 Polls
- On the chances of the youth candidates in the forthcoming elections, 26.6% of the IGLs assessed the youth candidates’ chances of success as “very likely” to win election, while 37.1% described their chances of success as just “likely”.
- 63.7% of IGLs had a favourable assessment of the youth candidate’s ability to win in the 2019 elections.
- 19% of the IGLs had a negative assessment of their chance, saying the youth candidates were either “unlikely” or “very unlikely” to win election. 17.2% were unsure of the candidate’s chances.
- Interpersonal engagements are valuable for political campaigns. Youth candidates should organise face-to-face meetings and adopt a door-to-door approach in their political campaigns. Visiting community leaders in their constituency would increase visibility to local elders and enhance the seriousness with which the later view campaigns by youth candidates.
- Political parties should demonstrate commitment to youth inclusion by providing direct technical and funding support to youth candidates.
- Electoral stakeholders like political parties, civil society groups and youth groups should develop a leadership capital development strategy aimed at recruiting and grooming leaders and facilitating political and leadership transition at all levels.
- NGOs and development partners should focus interventions on youth candidates with defined campaign structures in their constituencies. Such interventions should evolve from consultation with local stakeholders.
- Youth candidates and NGOs alike should be aware of and be realistic about the threats to the youth candidates’ campaigns posed by, among others; relatively unknown party platforms, popular and wealthy opponents, election malfeasance by opponents, and negative perceptions of youth candidacy by elders and community leaders.
For further inquiries please contact:
Faruk, Senior Program Officer, Youth
Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339
Email: [email protected]
Learn more about YIAGA AFRICA by visiting www.yiaga.org