I knew I was amidst the right people with the right agenda ; young, vibrant Nigerians from all
walks of life – Nasir Umaru Launi, Bauchi State Coordinator, Not Too Young To Run
How I became a NTYTR state coordinator
I was first invited to a methodology workshop on youth political participation in June 2014 by the renowned YIAGA Africa. Meeting the conveners, Samson Itodo, Cynthia Mbamalu, Habu Hamisu and many others, is a memory that will linger for a very long time because I thought I was doing great in my advocacy and engagement with youth in my state. But that quickly faded away as I found myself in the company of very enthusiastic youth from all parts of the country.
A major challenge I faced
My biggest challenge was working with youth that have a different mindset and approach to what we wanted to achieve – especially because there was no financial gratification involved. This is a fact that many did not want to believe … A second was the complex nature of forming the state level team, as it is common amongst the youth to be self-centered … We had to form and reform the team many times before we finally agreed on a level playing field. A third challenge was that of identity. In the past, many of such advocacy campaigns were plagued by vested interests. We had to work extra hard to gain the desired recognition and respect to be granted audience and be listened to. Luckily, YIAGA Africa had already made its manifestos and advocacy well known.
What I’ve learned
After I heard that the Not Too Young To Run Bill had been sent to the states for their ascent, I went to the assembly complex and requested to see the speaker. I said to him confidently, “Mr. Speaker, I am sure you are in receipt of the Not Too Young To Run bill from Abuja, and this is why I am here to make inquiries on the honorable house and next line of action”. But he cut me off and told me that transmission of the bill to the states had been delayed and that the house would act at the appropriate time. Although I had visited the State Assembly on many occasions as the coordinator of the American Corner in Bauchi, the
last interaction I had with the speaker reminded me of the need to verify information before acting.
My most memorable experience
When I joined the struggle, I was not sure if what we were advocating for would scale. But then news of the states passing the bill started flowing and my state, Bauchi, joined the hall of fame by passing the bill on 1 February, 2018. My greatest memory was when the president signed the bill into law. I was first congratulated by the resident electoral commissioner of Independent National Electoral Commmission, Bauchi, and then I received a series of congratulatory messages from the clerk, the State House of Assembly, many of our team members and collaborators. That memory will linger on forever as we have made history.