I saw the joy on the faces of young people when I shared the Not Too Young To Run story with them. This made me
realize the importance of the campaign – Ikenna OgbuOdimkpa, Abia State Coordinator, Not Too Young To Run
Why I joined the Not Too Young To Run Movement
Not Too Young To Run was an ideology I embraced even before I had knowledge of the movement. As team lead of a youth-based organization, I commemorated the 2016 UN International Youth Day. The keynote speaker, Sen. Ben Murray-Bruce, urged us to get involved in politics and community organizing. That was the defining moment. Soon after, Abia state held the local government election, and 10 young people registered under my organization ran for Councillor and chairmanship, and this was a huge experience for me; I made a mark.
How I became a NTYTR state coordinator
I was recommended from Abia state because of my antecedents to participate as the Abia state coordinator … The community organizing workshop unraveled many facets of leadership. I became aware of Mr. Mark Okoye, who was appointed Anambra State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget at 30 years, among other young people doing great work in government. I saw a peaceful society where young people are involved in policy making, contributing effectively to the growth and development of Nigeria, and are not involved in upturning systems because of neglect.
Major challenge I face
During our advocacy to the state assembly, I met a member who gathered four other members in his office and asked me to explain the bill. Though I saw it as killing five birds with one stone, I realized it had backfired when a legislator who didn’t like the ideas influenced the others. They said that we wanted to occupy their seats and send them back to the village. I felt scared, and I had to strategize. I had to find the leader who didn’t show up for the previous meeting and convince him to support the bill. The next time I came to the assembly, the previous five were easy to convert and they gladly had pictures with me and the NTYTR placard.
What I’ve learned
I learnt how to effectively execute projects to advance the course of humanity. Team Building was the first step … I couldn’t do it alone so I had to identify and build a team. We had to promote citizens’ engagement. We engaged in community organizing and enlightened the public, youth organizations, media and social influencers. We also had to be innovative by identifying relevant stakeholders and key actors and develop strategies to influence them to support the course. We employed flexibility,
accommodated disruptions and initiated twists to sway all. We were focused till our desired results were achieved. Employing all this, we won.
My most memorable experience
When the national assembly voted in favour of the bill, it was memorable. I received calls and messages from everywhere. I had acquaintances all congratulating me for the passage at the national assembly. The height of it all was when the president signed the bill into law. Just like Michael Jackson sang, I was speechless, without expression. I couldn’t explain how I felt. I am part of a movement that changed the course of youth involvement in politics in Nigeria. I made history – I shed tears as I smiled. What an irony. I am indeed, very glad to be part of this history-making movement.