Samson Itodo

Samson Itodo Receives JCI-TOYP Award, Salutes Not Too Young To Run Crusaders

YIAGA AFRICA’s Executive Director, Samson Itodo, was honoured with the prestigious Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) of Nigeria Award conferred by the Junior Chamber International (JCI) in a remarkable event that took place at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Lagos, yesterday, 20th August 2019. 

Receiving the award at the event, Samson Itodo stated that he accepts the award “on behalf of every Nigerian youth who asked their lawmakers to vote in support of the Not Too Young To Run” bill, signed into the Nigerian constitution on May 31st, last year. Itodo has continued to serve Nigerian youths as the convener of the Not Too Young To Run Movement, which led the successful advocacy for the reduction of age limits for running for public office in the Nigerian constitution. Over the last 12 years, Itodo and the team he leads at YIAGA AFRICA, have been dedicated to building strong democratic institutions, promoting people-centred legislation and policies, as well as building a community of active citizens to drive social change in Africa.

Samson Itodo (Right), receiving the 2019 Junior Chambers International Ten Outstanding Young Persons of Nigeria Award.

According to the JCI president, Adeola Juyitan, the TOYP is awarded annually to honour young Nigerians, under 40 years old, for their hard work and exemplary leadership in different sectors of society. Samson Itodo received the award  under the category of Political, Legal and/Government Affairs, alongside nine other young Nigerians who have excelled in their chosen field of endeavours and created positive impact in their communities.

Other notable honourees, selected from nearly two thousand nominations this year, include: Adeola Adefemi (Academic Leadership and/or Accomplishment), Glory Osei (Business, Economics and Entrepreneurship), Naomi Ekpoki (Children, World Peace and/or Human Rights), Folarin Falana (Cultural Achievement), Oluwaseun Osowobi (Humanitarian and/or Voluntary Leadership), Temi Giwa Tubosun (Medical Innovation), Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola (Moral and/or Environmental Leadership), Lauretta Onye (Personal Development) and Onyeka Akumah (Scientific and/or Technological Development). 

YIAGA AFRICA Partners SCRAP C for assessment Town Hall in Kaduna

YIAGA Africa, ActionAid hold anti-corruption review meeting in Kaduna

Non-governmental organisations, YIAGA Africa and ActionAid Nigeria with support from Ukaid are currently engaging Kaduna youth groups on anti-corruption campaign under Strengthening Citizens Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C) project.
YIAGA AFRICA is a civic non-governmental organization promoting democracy, governance and development in Africa through advocacy, research and capacity building.

The key purpose of the 2-day meeting currently ongoing at a hotel in Kaduna according to the Programme Officer, Accountability and Social Justice Department of YIAGA Africa, Tracy Keshi, was to assess the impact of earlier capacity building on evidence-based report training for youth groups in Kaduna state.
According to Tracy, “the impact assessment town-hall and establishment of SCRAP-C support systems is an activity embarked on under the youth component of the project – SCRAP–C, implemented with support from Action Aid Nigeria.

“This town-hall seeks to evaluate and assess the practical performance of the youth groups trained on evidence based reporting of corruption.
“The town-hall, also known as feedback assessment town-hall will include collation of verifiable evidences on how participants have reported corruption using investigative tools learnt from the training, as well as ascertain the strengths, weaknesses and explore further prospects of the youth groups in interrogating social deliverables, including mapping out areas where they can be supported.

“The SCRAP-C project aims to look at the fight against corruption through social norm lenses, and complement the law and enforcement approach that has been in existence in Nigeria.
“SCRAP-C will employ social marketing tools, research, advocacy, citizen’s mobilization, media engagements and capacity development to achieve change in behavior toward corruption,” she said.

Source: Sun Newsonline

WTV Project Director Cynthia Mbamalu

Bayelsa/Kogi Polls: Are Political Parties Ready for Democratic Primaries? – Cynthia Mbamalu

In May 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the timetable for the governorship election in Bayelsa and Kogi states. The timetable highlights series of activities beginning with the notice of election scheduled for the 17th of August 2019 and immediately followed by the collection of the forms CF001 and CF002 which kickstarts the timeline for the conduct of the party primaries scheduled from 18th August to 5th September 2019. Party primary is a fundamental activity in the electoral process for several reasons. At first instance, the primary election is central because it is the process through which candidates emerge in a political party to contest in the elections, without which parties cannot field candidates in the elections.

In addition, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not provide for independent candidacy but recognizes duly registered political parties as the platforms upon which an individual can contest in an election. On another instance, primaries facilitate the right to contest in an election because the conduct of primaries is a major determinant of a political party’s access to the ballot. As reiterated by the supreme court in APC & Anor. V Senator Kabiru and Ors (Zamfara APC case); “where a political party fails to conduct primaries, then it is apparent that that political party cannot participate in the general elections. For this reason, all political parties have promulgated their constitutions and guidelines where the procedure for selection of candidates for general elections are provided.” As such, only parties that have duly conducted primaries in line with the Electoral Act and Guidelines for the conduct of primaries and within the timeline in the Election Timetable are granted access to the ballot.

Beyond the guarantee of the access to ballot, party primaries ordinarily are to set the agenda for the elections giving aspirants the opportunity to highlight the issues in their manifesto as they commence their campaigns for the primaries. Although this is not always the case, as political parties in Nigeria are yet to appreciate the importance of robust political debates on issues during elections as more focus is just on the politics of winning the party ticket. However, the ability of different aspirants to articulate the issues in their manifesto during the campaigns for the primaries enables the voter to understand what each candidate represents and make informed decision at the polls.  As Nigeria’s democracy grows, there is more interest by citizens and Civil society groups in the party primaries which ordinarily are viewed by political parties as “party affairs”. The growing quest to observe the primaries is borne from the recognition of the role the primaries play in our electoral democracy and the fact that the shortfalls from the primary elections can hinder efforts targeted at achieving credible elections.

As revealed in the YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote observation reports on the 2019 Party Primaries, the monetization of the primaries and the non-compliance with existing laws and guidelines created an environment that enabled the increase in the reports of the purchase of the PVC, voter inducement and vote buying. In addition, was the incidents of electoral violence and the litany of pre-election cases that negatively impacted on the 2019 general election.

Accordingly, while Political parties may assert that the primary election is an internal political party, the reality is that the primary election informs as political culture which influenced by the practice within the party which sets the tone for political campaigns and has major impact on how democratic or otherwise the elections will be. A flawed primaries process enables a vulnerable electoral system exposed to election related conflicts, undermining the confidence in the electoral process and leaves a litany of aggrieved persons which as was the case in the 2019 general elections, leads to a plethora of pre-election cases court. This growing trend of flawed primaries is not sustainable, remains inimical to the development of our electoral process in Nigeria and at the least raises situations that creates distraction to the electoral commission in the preparation for election.

The Electoral Act in section 87 clearly states that ‘a party seeking to nominate candidate in the elections shall hold primaries for aspirants into the elective offices” which further states that the parties can adopt a direct or indirect primary. With the direct primaries requiring that all aspirant be given equal opportunity to be voted for. While for the indirect primaries, special congresses are to be held in the Local Government Areas with delegates voting for each aspirant and the aspirant with the highest votes cast declared the winner of the primaries.

With the timetable of Bayelsa and Kogi released, political party campaign activities towards the party primaries have commenced with the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) dominating the political scene so far. Other parties that are coming up into the race in recent times are: Social Democratic Party (SDP), Africa Democratic Congress (ADC), Accord Party (AP), Young Progressives Party (YPP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) with the potential for more parties as the primaries begin. Notably, certain issues already dominating the discourse on the primaries include the method of primaries adopted by the parties with the APC and PDP adopting indirect primaries and then high cost of nomination and expression of interest forms, especially by the APC and PDP in both states. The APC nomination and expression of interest cost N22.5 million with a 50% discount for female aspirants plus an additional administrative fee to be paid. While for the PDP, the cost for nomination is N20 million while expression of interest is 1million. For female aspirants in PDP the cost for nomination is 1 million naira with no requirement to pay expression of interest fee. For the PDP, about 21 aspirants and 12 aspirants had by the last week of July 2019 purchased their nomination in Bayelsa and Kogi states respectively.

More importantly is the role the electoral commission will be playing in ensuring strict compliance to the election timetable and the Guidelines for the conduct of primaries. The role of INEC to monitor political party primaries requires that each party be assessed by their compliance with the required procedures and the provisions of the Electoral Act. The Supreme court’s decision on the Zamfara APC case is a call to political parties and their leaders to review their party processes and commit to duly conducting democratic party primary elections, and as urged by the court; to “play the game according to the law and guidelines which they themselves have made.”

Possible Issues to look out for in the party primaries include:

Political Exclusion: high cost of nomination forms by both the APC and PDP remains worrisome as it maintains the trend of money determining the aspirants in a primary rather than qualification, capacity, competence and manifesto for the candidates. The cost of nomination is therefore the first screening grounds to exclude on grounds of financial strength especially for young aspirants and women.

Commercialization of the votes: Beyond the cost of nomination is also the role money will play in determining the votes of the delegates. With money becoming a determining factor already, the cost of a delegate’s vote will not be decided by the delegates conviction of an aspirant capacity but in his/her interest in bargaining the best price for the vote. The cost for each vote may be a huge burden on aspirants with less financial strength.

Intra-Party Conflict and threat of Electoral Violence: Both the APC and PDP have opted to adopt the indirect primaries for their party primaries with different aspirants in the APC for instance, questioning the decision for the process of primaries adopted by the party leadership. Beyond that is the wrangling’s already existing within the parties in the pre-primaries phase already creating a politically tensed atmosphere. The ability of the party leadership to manage and balance the interests for different top individuals seeking to clinch the party ticket will be a significant factor in quelling post-primaries conflict. In addition, the willingness to comply and the level of compliance by the political parties with the party guidelines, INEC Guideline for the conduct of Primaries, the Electoral Act and conducting transparent primaries will play a significant role in reducing the tendency of violence during the primaries, post-primaries conflict and also the number of pre-election matters in court.

Troubled times for women in politics- The primaries for the different political parties will also be determining the number of female candidates to contest in both elections. The APC and PDP have only 1 female aspirant each, but as more parties plan for their primaries, there may be hope that more female aspirants will contest. However, the question is whether we will have women emerging as candidates in both states from parties contesting in the election. Will Political parties be willing to support female candidates in the 16 November 2019 governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states?

Cynthia Mbamalu is a devoted Human Rights and Gender advocate and Program Manager of YIAGA AFRICA

YIAGA AFRICA WTV team during a visit to  NUJ Bayelsa

NUJ BAYELSA TO PARTNER YIAGA AFRICA TO ENSURE CREDIBLE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION IN THE STATE

The leadership of the Bayelsa State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), has expressed it readiness to collaborate with genuine interest groups and NGO’s whose goal is to ensure free, fair, credible and peaceful Gubernatorial election in the state.

The Council Chairman, Comrade Samuel Numonengi disclosed this when the leadership of YIAGA AFRICA, a Non Governmental Organization whose sole responsibility is to monitor elections with the aim to promote democratic principles in Africa paid him a courtesy visit in his office at the Ernest Ikoli Press Centre in Yenagoa.

Comrade Numonengi said already the leadership of the union in the state has constituted a committee on Election Monitoring and Safety of Journalists and urged the group to work with the committee to ensure a violence free polls in the state.

He said the union will continue to partner with the group particularly in youth enlightenment and publicity as it has done in previous elections and urged the group not to compromise their principles to any individual or political party.

Earlier, the leader of the group, Cynthia Mbamalu who is the project Director for South South, said they were in the Chairman’s office to seek areas of collaboration with the NUJ whose role is critical to the promotion of peaceful and credible elections.

She said YIAGA AFRICA is an electoral monitoring group nick named WATCHING THE VOTE PROJECT, which entails systematic observation of the electoral process in order to promote electoral integrity and eventually boost the people’s confidence.

She noted that YIAGA AFRICA would deploy accredited observers to all the polling units in the local government areas of the state to provide accurate and timely information on the electoral process.

According to her, YIAGA AFRICA is a non partisan and an independent organization that is guided by the electoral laws and guidelines of the country and works towards the promotion of accountability, social justice and credible elections.

 

Ogio Ipigansi

Secretary NUJ Bayelsa State Council.

wwu

CLE-MEDIA OFFICER 

Job Title: CLE-MEDIA OFFICER 

Location: Abuja 

Position type: Full time

Job description

Introduction

The YIAGA Centre for Legislative Engagement (YIAGA-CLE) is a think-tank established to promote the development of the legislature in Africa through innovative research, capacity development and public engagement. The goal of the Centre is to ensure the legislature is capacitated to discharge its legislative functions in compliance with democratic principles and standards. The Centre provides innovative and cutting-edge interventions to address these gaps in the Legislature.

 

Key Qualifications/skills

 

  • Bachelor’s in Mass communication, journalism, public relations, social media or related field

  • Requisite certification in journalism or media and communications

  • Minimum of 5 years of working experience in the field of journalism or communications

  • Fluent in English

  • Excellent communication skills, both written and oral

  • Excellent working knowledge of basic IT tools, social media and all relevant applications relating to communications

  • Sound knowledge of local and international media landscape 

  • Self-motivated and innovative

  • Ability to work well under pressure with tight deadlines

  • Good interpersonal skills 

  • Good analytical and organizational skills

  • Excellent internet research skills 

 

How to apply

 

Interested candidates should forward a one-page cover letter and detailed resume with the contact of referees as attached PDF documents to [email protected] on or before, 15TH August 2019. The subject line of email application must state the Name of Applicant and title of the position. Only applications sent in the required format will be considered. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

 

“YIAGA is an equal –opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of disability, sex, tribe, religion, etc. Qualified women are especially encouraged to apply

DSC_0392

My Not Too Young To Run Story: I Desire a Nigeria with Youth Political Participation – Delta State Coordinator

I desire to see a Nigeria where young people will be involved, not only in religious activities, but have a great love for political participation and governance –  Oyere Andrew, Delta State Coordinator, Not Too Young To Run

 Why I joined the NTYTR movement

In 2016, I was shortlisted to be part of YIAGA’s Young Legislative Accountability Project at Burutu Community … The objective was to reach out to different groups in the community, running focused group discussions with men, women, youth groups and community leaders and it was done successfully. That project launched me into the Not Too Young to Run (NTYTR) movement, and it was a great motivation to me.

What I’ve learned                                                                  

My effort to the NTYTR movement in Delta state as a coordinator has increased my understanding on politics and governance in Nigeria. It has also helped to bring out so many hidden potentials in me, such as my ability to organize people, manage resources, work under pressure and serve selflessly – even sacrificing personal resources to achieve the needed result … Being a state coordinator gave me the ability to be focused and allowed me to think skillfully in order to accomplish the task of carrying out actions in the passage of the NTYTR bill in Delta state … I also learned to be open minded in order to learn from my team members’ ideas. No leader can make it on his or her own – we need people.

My most memorable experience

Standing before honourable members discussing issues affecting our nations is an experience I won’t forget in a lifetime. Meeting people from almost all the states in Nigeria, the YIAGA Africa family, is another experience I will forever cherish.

Efanga Etim Effiong , Cross River State, Not Too Young To Run

My Not Too Young To Run Story : Organizing is Key Factor to Achieving Great Success – Cross River State Coordinator

The main lesson learnt from all my Not Too Young To Run engagement is that organizing is a key factor to achieve
great success – Etim Efanga Effiong Cross River State Coordinator, Not Too Young To Run

 

Why I joined the NTYTR movement
I saw the bright future the movement would bring to the youth of our great country Nigeria, and it was an opportunity for me. I was nominated by my boss based on my commitment to raising young leaders and giving them a voice in our communities. When I got the invitation for the Not Too Young To Run (NTYTR) movement training in Abuja, at first I saw it as one of those trainings I had always attended. But during the training, I saw how important the Not Too Young To Run movement was to YIAGA. Their team carefully took us through the process of how to organize and make people see the importance of
the NTYTR bill becoming law.

A major challenge I faced

One major obstacle I overcame as a state coordinator was bringing people out to be a part of the National Day of Action (NDA). The Cross River state leadership team made great efforts to invite young persons in our communities, but to our great surprise, we had just five people present at the takeoff venue. At the same time, we had not received the materials for the NDA. By God’s grace, I printed and bought some materials that morning, while the team made calls to all those we invited. We got it all
done.

My most memorable experience

My most memorable experience in the NTYTR journey was on our National Day of Action, when I submitted the NTYTR Bill to the Speaker, Cross River State House of Assembly and all members of his cabinet. To me, it was memorable because I felt I was part of history on that day.

Maureen Tare Bayelsa Coordinator

My Not Too Young To Run Story : I joined the movement to redirect the youth – Bayelsa State Coordinator

Youth should understand that anyone can be a leader. While some are born leaders, others acquire
the ability to lead by improving and polishing their leadership skills. – Maureen Tare, Bayelsa State Coordinator , Not Too Young To Run

Why I joined the NTYTR movement

I joined the Not Too Young To Run movement to redirect the youth. They had been relegated to the background and acted as political thugs, causing violence and destruction instead of occupying leadership positions and injecting fresh ideas to stimulate national growth. I needed to expand on what had been taught during Youth Organizing School and go beyond my normal daily activities, which were mainly about advocating for women’s rights and participation in governance.

A major challenge I faced

The most challenging part for me was gaining the state legislature and leaders’ acceptance of the bill. I remember how I was walked out of the office of the Speaker when I insisted that I needed to see him. Instead, I was asked to come through the member representing my constituency in the state assembly, but in the end, I had to pass through another member representing another constituency.

What I’ve learned

Most youth felt that being part of the process should earn them some stipend, but instead I was asking them to volunteer … I learned how to locate youth with like minds, inspire them to serve, and share a vision that motivated them to push for approval of the bill in Bayelsa state.

My most memorable experience

The most memorable moment for me was after the state assembly sat, considered the bill and was to sit the next day. I was called to be on air to talk about the bill by 7 a.m. and the air waves filled with phone calls. The state voted yes to the bill. That was a very big sigh of relief for me and my team members.

Bauchi State Coordinator, Not  Too Young To Run

My Not Too Young To Run Story : I knew I was amidst the right people with the right agenda – Bauchi State Coordinator

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.

Abia State Coordinator

I saw Joy on Faces of Young People When I shared the Not Too Young To Run Story – Abia State Coordinator

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.