All Eyes on Buhari: Not Too Young To Run Movement Press Statement on Presidential Assent

The Not Too Young To Run movement is a movement of youth and civil society groups advocating for the reduction of age for running for elective offices to mainstream young men and women in electoral politics. Not Too Young To Run is Nigeria’s largest and most successful youth movement in recent times. The movement is driven by the compelling need to restructure the country’s political system to address the deeply entrenched system of political exclusion and institute inclusive politics, transformative leadership and electoral competitiveness in the electoral process.

The journey of the Not Too Young To Run Movement which began since 2009 with the advocacy for age reduction in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has consistently organized youth demands for inclusion as candidates within the political space.

In May 2016 the campaign for age reduction in the 8th Assembly began with the constitution amendment process and the long journey has reached the last and final stage in the process with the successful passage of the Bill at both the National Assembly and State Assemblies and the onward transmission of the Bill to the President for presidential assent as required by the Constitution.

The confirmation of the transmission of the age reduction bill for political office (Not Too Young To Run bill) and other constitution amendment bills to the President for assent was received with great joy by the movement as that restored the hope of young Nigerians who are patiently waiting for the Constitutional amendment to enable them run for office in the 2019 general elections.

The Movement is aware of the position of the law, which makes presidential assent a condition precedent for the passage of bills into law. In particular section 58 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which provides inter alia ‘the power of the National Assembly to make laws shall be exercised by bills passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and, except as otherwise provided, assented to by the President’.

As we prepare for the 2019 general elections the imperative for youth inclusion especially as candidates for all elective positions is not a matter for debate but a constitutional imperative for democratic development.

The Movement hereby demands:

  1. That the President gives his assent to the age reduction Bill within the next eight (8) days as a democracy gift to young Nigerians whose only demand is to be included in the democratic process.
  2. That the president fulfils his commitment to youth development by assenting to the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill and the other Constitutional Amendment Bills.

The movement also wishes to state here that the support from the youth will only come if the Not Too Young To Run bill is speedily passed into law.

The 2019 elections present an opportunity for young people to assert their constitutional right not only as voters or campaign merchants but as qualified electoral candidates. The movement is therefore committed to inspiring and supporting more youth candidates with content and character to run for office through its Ready To Run initiative and other interventions aimed at promoting youth candidacy in the next elections. Young people are ready for 2019 and will only be giving their support to political parties who uphold internal party democracy to safeguard the emergence of more youth candidates in 2019 and most importantly commit to non-violent elections.

The movement will continue to mobilize more young people across the country to participate in the ongoing continuous voter registration exercise, collect their Permanent Voter Card (PVC) and turn out to vote in all elections.

We thank the President in anticipation for his assent to the age reduction bill as a democracy day gift to young people in Nigeria.

We thank the National Assembly and State Assemblies for their support to the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill.

We thank all the young organizers across the country who have remained resolute and have constantly engaged with their stakeholders to ensure the passage of the #NotTooYoungToRun bill, we thank the media, civil society, and our partners for the solidarity and support all through this journey.

One Shared Value, One Shared Goal, #NOTTOOYOUNGTORUN

Our Shared Value, Our Shared Goal, #NOTTOOYOUNGTORUN

Signed

  1. Activista
  2. Abuja Global Shapers
  3. African Youth Initiative on Population, Health & Development (AfrYPoD)
  4. Connected Development [CODE]
  5. Dean Initiative
  6. The Election Network
  7. League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN)
  8. Mind Capital
  9. The Nigerian Youth Parliament
  10. Orodata,
  11. Project Pink Blue
  12. Social Good Nigeria
  13. TechHer NG
  14. The YALI Network
  15. Youngstars Foundation
  16. Youth Hub Africa
  17. YIAGA Africa
  18. Amplified Radio
  19. Media Insight
  20. Say No Campaign
  21. Vision Alive Foundation, Abia
  22. Youth Initiative for Better Change, Adamawa
  23. Young Activists Initiative Nigeria, Akwa Ibom
  24. Integrity Youth Development Initiative, Anambra
  25. Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, Bayelsa
  26. The Bridge Youth Development Foundation, Benue
  27. Exit Lanes, Borno
  28. After School Centre for Career Development, Cross River
  29. DIG Foundation, Ebonyi
  30. Connected Advocacy, Edo
  31. Inspiration Care Centre, Ekiti
  32. New Century Initiative, Enugu
  33. Dandalin Matasa Initiative for Rapid Development, Gombe
  34. Development Dynamics, Imo
  35. Centre for Environmental Research and Development, Jigawa
  36. One Project Afrika. Kaduna
  37. Centre for Advocacy in Gender and Social Inclusion, Kano
  38. Youth Entrepreneurship Support Hub, Katsina
  39. Youth Consensus Forum, Kebbi
  40. Youth Emancipation for the Society (ProjectYES), Kogi
  41. Brain Builders International, Kwara
  42. Grassroots Mobilization Initiative, Nasarawa
  43. Nigerian Young Professionals Forum, Niger
  44. Youth Future Savers Initiatives, Ogun
  45. Youth Aglow Initiative, Ondo
  46. Kimpact Development Initiative, Osun
  47. Young Care Initiative, Oyo
  48. Centre for Youth Participation Advocacy, Plateau
  49. Golden Star Development Initiative, Sokoto
  50. Rural Integrated Development Initiative, Taraba
  51. North East Youth Initiative Forum, Yobe
  52. Golden Stars Development Initiative, Zamfara
  53. Modaville Centre for Development, Lagos
  54. National Organization for Citizens Orientation (NOCO), Rivers State.
  55. Nigerian Youth Action (NYA), Rivers State, Nigeria

Re: #NotTooYoungToRun and the Rest of Us By Ibrahim Faruk

Since May 2016 the Not Too Young To Run Campaign and the Movement of youth and civil society groups advocating for the reduction of age for running for elective offices to mainstream young men and women in electoral politics have been at the forefront of the constitution amendment in Nigeria. The Movement (which has gained global recognition from the United Nations, African Union and the Economic Community of West African States) and grown into what is now Nigeria’s largest and most successful youth movement in recent times is driven by the compelling need to restructure the country’s political system to address political exclusion and institute inclusive politics, transformative leadership and electoral competitiveness in Nigeria’s electoral process.

When the National Assembly in a historic vote passed the age reduction bill in July 2017 and the bill was also passed by 34 out of 36 State Houses of Assembly in February 2018, the Movement was convinced that after the State Houses of Assembly transmitted the constitution amendment to the National Assembly on 1 March 2018 the next and final stage in the constitution amendment process would be concluded quickly to open the space for young people to contest.

In a piece titled ‘NotTooYoungToRun and the Rest of Us’ by Ibrahim Kabiru Dallah, a member of the Nigerian Youth Parliament, written ‘to encourage some of the young people in Nigeria that are currently making us proud in either the political or business arena’ I was particularly impressed with the level of youth participation in Katsina state and in particular Ibrahim Zakari who is the Special Adviser on International Relations and Investments. However, whether the President signs the bill or not Ibrahim Zakari can run for office.

How about the rest of us? The ‘rest of us’ include young men and women who are waiting for the President to sign the Not Too Young To Run bill and other constitutional amendment bills. Young men and women aspiring to run for office who are below the age of 30 are hopeful that the constitutional amendment bill which seeks to lower the age for contesting for House of Assembly and House of Representatives seats from 30 years to 25 years will pass before political parties begin to hold primary elections.

The ‘rest of us’ include young organizers across the country who sent letters, text message, placed a call to their representatives, spoke on television and radio, posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, marched under the sun in their states, engaged in online and offline debates among others.

The only thing that currently stands in their way is the transmission of the Not Too Young To Run bill and other constitutional amendment bills from the National Assembly to the President.

In preparation for Presidential Assent for the Not Too Young To Run bill, thousands of Nigerian youth marched peacefully to the Aso Villa on March 14, 2018, to present a letter to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requesting for assent to the age reduction bill which was received by Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The Senate also resolved to transmit the Not Too Young To Run bill among others to the President for assent on April 17, 2018. Two days later, the leadership of the Not Too Young To Run Movement met with the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the purpose of the advocacy meeting being to secure a commitment for the ‘rest of us’ – who want to see the Not Too Young To Run bill passed.

At the meeting, the Vice President stated that young Nigerians should be allowed to run for elective public positions as they have demonstrated capacity and competence in technology, education and other sectors of the economy.

The time is now for the National Assembly to immediately transmit the Not Too Young To Run bill to the President and for the President to speedily sign the bill into law. This is the demand and the message from the ‘rest of us’. We are ready and must be part of the 2019 elections not just as voters but as candidates.

In the words of Martin Luther King Jnr, “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

Ibrahim Faruk is a Senior Program Officer with YIAGA AFRICA. He has been actively involved in the #NotTooYoungToRun Movement and is based in Abuja. He can be reached via [email protected] He tweets via @IbrhmFaruk

 

 Before National Assembly Jeopardize Assent to NotTooYoungToRun Bill – Moshood Isah

  Strong indications have emerged that the National Assembly may be tactically delaying the transmission of the Age Reduction Bill popularly known as the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill alongside other constitutional amendments to the Presidency in a bid to prevent Nigerian youths from running for political office in 2019. The Bill which seeks to reduce the constitutionally required age of running for political office has been with the National Assembly and awaiting transmission to the Presidency since March 2018, having been passed by at least 34 State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria. With the 2019 elections fast approaching, it is expected that, the National Assembly; an arm of government which has continuously reiterated its commitment to the enactment of youth friendly legislations would immediately transmit the bill to the Presidency for assent.

It is increasingly becoming an issue of serious concern that, since over three months after the National Assembly had received the consolidated constitution amendment Bills, including the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill from the State Houses of Assembly, it is yet to transmit to the President for assent. Various youth-led and political organizations have continued to register their displeasure as the delay portends danger for aspiring young people ready to leverage on the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill in the forthcoming 2019 general elections.  Despite series of calls to the National Assembly via letters, press statement and social media campaign to transmit the Bill to the President by over 50 youth-led/youth-focused organizations, the Age reduction Bill continue to suffer what can now be described as a tactical delay by the National Assembly.

According to a press statement released by the movement, Nigerian youths are ready to resist any attempt by any arm of government to prevent the passage of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill into law.  The urgency of the need to transmit the Bill to the Presidency cannot be overemphasized.

Nigerian youth are ready to run and must be part of the 2019 elections not just as voters but as candidates themselves. It is pertinent to remind the 8th National Assembly that history is on their side having passed the Bill in the first try. Thus, it is only logical that they transmit the Bill without further delay except if there are hidden motives as Nigerian youths are currently made to believe and ready to resist.

There is also the need to stress that, governance best practices as encapsulated in the African Union and Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) normative instruments dictate that all amendments to the constitution must be concluded at least 12 months before the elections. The delay in the passage of these constitutional amendment Bills raises challenges to the integrity of the electoral process.

In a press statement released few days ago, Deputy Senate President; Senator Ike Ekweremadu charged Nigerian youths to step out and take their rightful place in governance and national development as well as to remain focused in realizing their goals and never lose self-confidence. He reiterated that, the National Assembly passed the Age Reduction Bill to pave the way for Nigerian youths to participate in the decision-making process of the country.

The Deputy Senate President’s call is ironic, because being a principal officer of the National Assembly, he should know that delay in transmitting the Bill to the President for assent pose a danger to Nigerian youths’ participation in the forthcoming 2019 general elections as candidates and ultimately from taking their rightful place in the decision-making process of the country.

Nigerian youths have continually shown determination, resilience and readiness to be part of the decision-making process by taking proactive actions even as the Age Reduction Bill awaits Presidential assent. Recall that, young people across Nigeria on March 15th, 2018 converged at the Unity Fountain, Abuja for a peaceful march to the Presidential Villa to demand assent to the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill by the President as soon as it is being transmitted. This was no doubt done with the belief that the National Assembly will be equally proactive by also transmitting the Bill as soon as it arrived from the State Houses of Assembly.

Additionally, the leadership of the movement paid a courtesy visit to the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to further press for assent to the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill on April 19th, 2018. During the visit, Osinbajo challenged Nigerian youths to brace up for political leadership of the country in the years ahead. He stated that, youths need to build their capacity and be ready for political offices they intend to occupy while pointing out that leadership positions were not automatic.

Similarly, the Vice President during an engagement with young Nigerians at the One-on-One Mentorship Series 1.0 program held in April stated that he is yet to see anyone in the Muhammadu Buhari administration that is opposed to the Age Reduction Bill. This is no doubt an indication that the Presidency is ready to fulfill their promise of youth inclusion in politics albeit IF and only IF the National Assembly transmit the bill along with other constitutional amendment to the Presidency for assent.

Moshood Isah

Media Officer, YIAGA Africa

Twitter : @moshoodpm

 

APC Youth Praises Not Too Young To Run Movement

The Youth Wing of the All Progressive Congress (APC) have Commended  the NotTooYoungToRun movement for its sustained advocacy on the Age reduction bill currently awaiting Presidential assent, saying the President and his administration are youth friendly thus will assent to the bill once it comes before him. The ruling party through a delegation led by young Presidential aspirant in the 2019 elections, Adamu Garba said this during a courtesy visit to YIAGA Africa office in Abuja.

 

Adamu Garba described that as far back as 2007 he has intended to run for the office of President in 2019, despite being aware he would only be 35 years old. According to Garba, “We did not know there was a movement to change this. We were sleeping, and the Not Too Young To Run Campaign woke us up. All the work and outreach we have accomplished would not have been given a light without what YIAGA Africa and Not Too Young To Run has done”

 

The delegation was received by YIAGA Africa’s Executive Director Samson Itodo, who thanked the stakeholders for their support for Not Too Young To Run. He explained that YIAGA Africa was only one member of a larger coalition behind the campaign.

 

Samson Itodo made it clear that while the Not Too Young To Run Coalition was keen to see more young people contesting for political office, Nigeria needed young people who would bring a new kind of leadership. He emphasized that young leaders should work to build parties that are respective of institutions over individuals and that support the rule of law and human rights.    According to Itodo, there is an idea that party loyalty means support to individuals when it should be support to an institution.

 

During the visit, Itodo also introduced Ready To Run, the newest initiative of YIAGA Africa. Ready To Run according to him will identify and profile young aspirants to political office, support their ambitions and link them to opportunities for funding with other organizations.

 

While reacting to the comments by Mr Itodo, Mr Garba said, they were aware of these issues, and were committed to solving them from within the party. “We are not satisfied with the status quo within APC, and that is why we want to come out and make a difference”, he said

 

Samson Itodo closed the visit by offering words of advice for the aspirants. He said anyone running for office should ensure they have an ideology, that they build a movement, and that they have a strategic plan for how to win the election.

 

 

How voting pattern will shape 2019 polls By Nuruddeen M. Abdallah

The voting pattern that characterised the last five presidential elections in the six geopolitical zones may shape the general elections next year, Daily Trust investigations, through analysis of official voting figures in the last 20 years, have shown.
The northwest and south-south geopolitical zones had the highest voting figures in Nigeria’s presidential elections since 1999, according to official data obtained from the website of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and other sources.

President Muhammadu Buhari, for instance, had won popular votes in the northwest and northeast in 2003, 2007, and 2011. Despite that, he still couldn’t win the presidential vote due to his poor outreach in the southern zones.
On the other hand, Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umaru Musa Yar’adua, and Goodluck Jonathan were elected for winning in southern zones and securing at least 25 percent in some states in the northwest, northeast and north central.
The northwest, the country’s most populous zone with a combined population of 35.78 million according to the 2006 official census, led other zones with the highest valid voting figures during four of the five presidential polls conducted since the country’s return to democracy in 1999.
The northwest, comprises seven states of Kano, Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto, and Jigawa, had the highest valid votes in 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2015 presidential elections.
The south-south region (Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Cross River, and Bayelsa), was in a surprising second position on voting figures even when in population figures it’s 14 million less the northwest’s. With official census figures of21.01 million, the zone had the second highest valid votes in 2015, 2011, and 2007 and 2003 polls.
The oil-rich zone, however, overtook the northwest to become the zone with the highest voting data during the 1999 polls. It was not clear whether the zone’s impressive performance had anything to do the fraudulent voters roll that enabled vote padding before the introduction of card readers.
The southwest, the second most populous region after northwest with census figures of 27.95 million, and comprising Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Ekiti, had the lowest votes in 1999, but came fourth place in 2007, fifth in 2011 and 2003, and second in 2015.
Surprisingly, the zone recorded poor voting figures in 1999 even when the two presidential candidates – Obasanjo and Chief Olu Falae – were from the same zone.
The northeast (Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, Taraba, and Adamawa), with population figures of 18.97 million, came third place in 1999 and 2003, sixth in 2007 and 2011 and fifth in 2015.
The southeast comprising of Ebonyi, Imo, Anambra, Enugu, and Abia, with census figures of 16.38 million, came fifth place in 1999 and 2007, fourth in 2011, and sixth in 2015 and 2003.
The northcentral (Plateau, Benue, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, and Nasarawa), with census figures of 20.16 million, came third place in 1999, 2007 and 2011, fourth in 2003 and 2015.

Zonal voting pattern
In 1999 polls, the south-south had the highest valid votes of 4,227,330, followed by northwest 3,884,836, northcentral 3,615,793, north east 3,552,353, southeast 2,307,772, and southwest 1,902,196.
In 2003 elections, the northwest led with 9,643,772 valid votes, followed by south-south 7,673,448, northeast 6,237,877, northcentral 5,739,206, southwest 5,698,907, and southeast 4,550,279.
During 2007 elections, the northwest had the highest valid votes cast totalling 8,867,128; trailed by south-south 6,770,546, northcentral 6,494,860, southwest 4,349,730, southeast 3,673,274, and northeast 3,114,413.
In 2011, the northwest led other zones with the highest valid votes of 6,844,836, south-south 6,197,404, northcentral 5,052,348, southeast 5,044,923, southwest 4,553,999, and northeast 4,814,167.
In 2015, the northwest had the highest valid votes of 8,505,577, with south-south following with 4,667,879, southwest 4,362,456, northcentral 4,149,143, northeast 3,672,348, and southeast 2,719,654.

Voter roll rose by 50% in 20 years
The number of registered voters has risen by 50 percent in the last 20 years when the country returned to democratic rule, according to the investigations.
About 85 million Nigerians have so far registered vote in the 2019 polls. This will represent a huge increase of 28 million from the 57 million that voted in 1999.
The turn out over the years ranges from 53 percent in 1999 to nearly 70 percent in both 2003 and 2007, then down to 53 percent in 2011 and further down to 43 percent in 2015.
The current figure is considered the most credible so far in the country’s election history, particularly due to the adoption of biometric voter registration and card reader machines deployed during the elections.
Over these years, the case of underage voting was very prevalent when images and videos of children voting during elections went viral.
In some cases, the number of voters for presidential elections tripled that of votes cast for other elective positions.
In 2011, INEC chairman Professor Attahiru Jega replaced the old and inflated voter roll which had on the list former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa and the late music superstar Michael Jackson, with a new voter registration system that relies on fingerprints and photographs.
President Buhari scored half of the votes in 2003 and 2011 elections.
The official data analysed by Daily Trust show that 175 million Nigerians had voted in the five presidential elections where 81 candidates contested.
Also, the April 2003 election which saw Chief Obasanjo emerge for the second term had a voter turnout of 69.1 percent.
The April 2011 presidential election had the highest registered voters of 73, 528, 040, according to the official data.
A total of 81 candidates contested for the number- one seat in the last presidential polls held between 1999 and 2015, where Obasanjo, Yar’adua, Jonathan, and Buhari were elected as presidents.
No matter the number of candidates, it has always been a two-way race in all the elections. From 1999 to date, the candidates that matter have been the first two.
Only two candidates contested in the 1999 elections, 20 vied in 2003 polls, but the number rose to 25 in 2007, and down to 20 in 2011, and 14 in 2015, according to the official data.
Buhari is leading the league of serial presidential candidates, having contested four times only to course to victory in 2015. Obasanjo contested twice and won, late Yar’adua contested once and won, and Jonathan contested twice and won once.
2019: 68 parties, 85m voters
INEC chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu said that as at the second week of January, the commission had registered 74 million voters.
The figure is expected to reach between 80 and 85 million by 2019 because of the on-going nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).
It is also clear that many political parties may contest the 2019 presidential vote. In January, INEC said it had registered 68 political parties. This figure may rise before the February polls.
We can’t pass off INEC figures -TMG
Ms Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, chairperson Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), said it is not “nuanced enough to simply pass off those figures” to describe the polls as credible. She explained that even the 2015 elections that were adjudged as the most credible, were not flawless.
“The 2015 polls, which were deemed credible on account of their historic outcomes, also witnessed a lot of shortcomings. For instance, TMG Quick Count observation report for the Presidential and National Assembly elections of March 28, 2015, documented a brazen attempt to inflate voter turnout figures in three states in the south-south geopolitical zone during the election. These south-south states, where the turnout figures veered significantly from the average turnout figures nationally were Delta, Rivers, and Bayelsa,” she said.
On the zonal voting figures, she said: “the position about the south-south having the highest number of valid votes is not grounded in the province of fact. Except, of course, we just want to accept and pass off the INEC figures, without further context of the problems dogging the electoral process.”

Source: Daily Trust

Unclaimed PVCs And Political Apathy By Tayo Ogunbiyi

Universally, democracy is referred to as the government of the people by the people and for the people to emphasise that it is the people that give impetus to democracy. In essence, democracy cannot exist without the people. It is the people that set democracy in motion. It is the people that act as the oil that galvanizes the wheel of democracy. Therefore, democracy cannot thrive where people display an indifferent attitude towards the political process.

The revelation that there are about 1.4 million unclaimed Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, in Lagos State should undoubtedly get every enthusiast of democratic governance in the state and, indeed, the country concerned. According to reports, Lagos state has the highest number of unclaimed permanent voter cards in the country.

According to a latest Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, statistics, Lagos has the highest number of (1,401,390) unclaimed PVC followed by Oyo with 647,586 and Edo which had 449,001, while Kano has 195,941. A further breakdown shows that Bauchi State has the least number of uncollected PVCs, with 15,542, followed by Bayelsa and Plateau which have 28,533 and 25,300 PVCs respectively.

A 2012 INEC data aptly captures the sad trend in the nation’s political process. According to the statistics, only about 35% of the over 70 million who registered to vote in the 2011 general elections really participated in voting. This implies that over 65% of registered voters did not partake in the process. This is not good enough as it portends as it has grievous implications on the prospect of democracy in the country.

For one, it ensures that leaders who attain political power via the votes of the minority rule over the majority. Second, it casts serious aspersion on the kind of democracy we practice .Also, it makes it hypocritical for those who did not turn out to vote to criticize those who were elected through the same process that they shunned. As it is often said, ‘you cannot eat your cake and have it’.

A lot of arguments have been put forward in defence of those who shun the political process. One of such is that votes don’t usually count in our country. This is anchored on the notion that the outcome of elections is often pre-determined. There is, thus, a conviction that the electoral process is a sham. Similarly, many consider the political class undeserving of their votes because of their perceived insincerity to electoral promises. Another factor is what has been termed as the failure of political parties to embrace internal democracy as evidenced in alleged imposition of candidates and other such undemocratic tendencies.

However, irrespective of the genuineness of the argument, it is not enough for anyone to ignore the electoral process. In any case, when the majority refuse to participate in voting, that does not in any way invalidate the outcome of elections. Sadly, we all suffer the consequences of staying aloof when the wrong people get into power. Active involvement in the political process signifies that everyone is a critical stakeholder, having the best interest of the country at heart. It is a practical demonstration of being a responsible citizen.

It is, therefore, important that those with the unclaimed PVCs make concerted efforts to collect them at the designated points as directed by INEC. The worth of the PVC in the current political process cannot be over -emphasised. For one, it offers electorates the right to have a say in deciding those who would rule over them. Possession of this all important item, thus, puts an enormous responsibility on the electorate. It places the destiny of the state right in their hands. It is such an enormous responsibility that must be carried out with every sense of honour, dignity and patriotism. It is a sacred task that must be performed with utmost diligence and patriotism. This is because any slipshod choice that is made in the coming polls could portend great danger to the lives of generations yet unborn. It could jeopardize the future of the country.

The destiny of this nation and that of future generations of Nigerians lies in the hands of the electorates. Whichever path the country would follow in the coming years would, thus, be a clear manifestation of the kind of choice electorates make. For our hues and cries over bad governance and poor leadership, we won’t be able to actually absolve ourselves of complicity if we disregard our civic duties.

Unlike other forms of government, the beauty of democracy lies in the ability of the people to have a say in the choice of those who preside over the apparatus of governance. This is the rationale behind the popular affirmation of democracy as the government of the people, for the people and by the people. However, for the people to actually maximize the benefits of democracy, they need to appropriately play their role of selecting leaders of their choice.

Public security, infrastructure development, the economy and much more are tied to the thumbs of the electorates. If we bungle things again, it would take us another four years or much more to get it right again. This is, therefore, not the time to indulge in undue political apathy.

If democracy is to truly be the government of the people and for the people, the people must own the process from the beginning to the end. Active involvement in the political process signifies that everyone is a critical stakeholder, having the best interest of the country at heart. It is a practical demonstration of being a responsible citizen. Therefore, INEC, political parties, the civil society, NGOs, the media and other stakeholders should give greater attention to voters’ education as well as other enlightenment campaigns that could re-enact the confidence of the people in the electoral process.

It is important to stress that the worst illiterate is the political illiterate who takes no part in political process. Sadly, he doesn’t understand that everything depends on political decision. Ironically, he even prides himself on his political ignorance by openly sticking out his chest that he hates politics. He doesn’t know that from his political apathy comes the prostitute, the abandoned child, the robber and worst of all, corrupt and incompetent public officials. At the slightest chance, he blames the government for every woe in the society but never really sees anything wrong in his own apolitical posture.

On a final note, it is imperative to stress that elected political leaders at all levels should not take the electorates for granted. It will only amount to sheer treachery for an elected official to ignore his/her electoral promises while in office. Compatriots who ignore all difficulties in order to participate in the political process ought to be given a better deal. Also, the practice of turning elections into a ‘do or die’ affair should be discouraged to give credibility to the electoral process.

Ogunbiyi is of the Lagos State Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja

Source: PMnews

2019: Court nullifies National Assembly’s amendment of Electoral Act

An Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has nullified the amendment of Section 25 of the Electoral Act, which was passed in February by the National Assembly.

In a judgement on Wednesday, the court presided by Justice Ahmed Mohammed ruled that only the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had the powers to create an election template for the country.

The judge also ruled that any attempt by the National Assembly to amend the Section 25, as done by the legislature, would first require an amendment of the constitution.

The Accord Party filed the application after both chambers of the National Assembly attempted to implement Section 58 of the constitution which allows the legislature to override the decision of the president.

The party asked the court to determine if INEC was not solely empowered to carry out its function of overseeing the election timetable in Nigeria.

The application by Accord Party was part of events that trailed the decision of the National Assembly to reorder the sequence of the 2019 general elections, putting the presidential election last.

This development initiated a series of controversies in the polity with some senators of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) saying it was targeted at Mr. Buhari, to prevent his re-election.

Both chambers of the National Assembly, though dominated by the APC, amended the order of the election. The proposed sequence of elections would make the National Assembly election come first in 2019, followed by governorship and state Houses of Assembly, and presidential as last.

That was against the sequence rolled out by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) late 2017, which put presidential and National Assembly elections first and governorship and state assembly to follow.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on March 13 refused assent to the bill, after it was forwarded to his office. He had said the amendments if allowed to pass violate parts of the constitution.

After Mr. Buhari refused assent to the bill in March, the National Assembly attempted to invoke section 58 of the Constitution to override the decision of the president .

Shortly after the bill was refused by the president, the Federal High Court restrained the Senate from proceeding with further actions on the matter.

The Accor Party also asked the court to determine whether the interference of the National Assembly, after INEC had fixed the date for the election, did not amount to an abuse of the separation of powers.

The counsel to the National Assembly, Joseph Daudu, urged the court to dismiss the application, describing it as an abuse of court process.

In the ruling, however, Mr. Mohammed overruled the submission by Mr. Daudu that the application amounted to an academic exercise.

The court ruled that INEC had the sole responsibility to organise and conduct elections, including fixing of dates, among other things.

“It is the sole responsibility of the third defendant (INEC) to organise and conduct elections, including fixing of dates for the elections.

“The power of INEC to organise and conduct elections in this country cannot be taken away by the Electoral Act,” he said.

“After perusing submissions of counsel in this matter, I declare Section 25 of the Electoral Act 2018, which is the section that contravenes the provisions of the Constitution, a nullity.

“The Plaintiff’s suit seeking for the interpretation of certain provisions of the Constitution cannot be said to be an abuse of the process of the court,” the judge said.

Source: Premium Times

Where are the leaders of tomorrow? By Melvin Umunna

While growing up, we used to sing a song on the assembly ground in my basic school, which, I am sure, readers would know. It goes thus: “Parents listen to your children, we are leaders of tomorrow, try to pay our school fees and give us sound education”.

In my adult life, I have been asking myself the whereabouts of tomorrow’s leaders we have been singing about? What has happened to their hopes? Have they all gone into extinction? At some point, I asked myself, did teachers tell us all that stories to make us strive for excellence in our studies? Was I deceived? May be the leaders of tomorrow have gone into oblivion I thought. At last, while searching, the veil was removed from my sight and I stumbled on the leaders of tomorrow in places not worthy of mentioning.

I saw some in gambling houses, trying to make sudden millions in predicting game. I saw some others engaging in cyber crimes. While I tried to understand if they were in productive ventures; before I could gather my thoughts on what the so-called leaders of tomorrow were up to, SARS officers rounded them up and hurled them into Black Maria. Then, I asked, when shall these leaders emerge?

In a country of over 180 million people, the youth constitute over 65 per cent of its entire population and I wonder why the political class has neglected this very important demography. We must understand that the future of this country lies on the shoulder of the today’s young people and what we invest in them would be a precursor to what the future would look like, whether gloomy or bright.

It is ruinous of the governing class to have forgotten that the most valuable and treasured resources we have are the youths. It is shameful that successive governments have appointed old people to decide the future of young people in the country. One would have thought that the emergence of Goodluck Jonathan as president was a good omen for the youth in politics, but sadly, the youth suffered under his administration and we found our way back the old order.

It is not enough to trade blames, we as youths must come out of the delusion and come to terms with the fact that unless we develop and position ourselves strategically, we may never become the leaders of today, much less leaders of tomorrow. The youth of today are lost in a world of illusion brought about by the social media and the Internet. With large following in the social media, we are supposed to see ourselves as movers and shakers, and that we can influence the world from the comfort of our bedrooms. It is a pity that many of us are not using our influence in the social media positively.

Who still thinks political struggle and economic emancipation are a tea party? Prof Browne Onuoha, a foremost Political Scientist, once said for young people to become relevant in the scheme of things politically, “they must carry our political bag”.

We must get ourselves involved. Sadly, the youth of today are carried away with the flamboyant life styles of the Kims of this world, 30 billion gangs and that is why we see every young man wanting to delve into world of entertainment. We must have this at the back of our mind that those social media celebrities we choose to emulate have paid the price for their fame and glory. They toiled steadfastly through hard work, prepared and availed themselves for opportunities to create niche for themselves.

What have young people done to be truly and deservedly called the leaders of tomorrow? Are we ready to pay the price of hard work, diligence, patience, perseverance? It is not enough to shout “not too young to run”, what have we done to equip ourselves when the chances come begging? Ask Hebert Macaulay, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Odimegwu Ojukwu, Aminu Kano, MKO Abiola, Tai Solarin, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Gani Fawehinmi, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and others, they also passed through the trenches of oppression and repression.

Political revolution is neither a child’s play nor tea party. We would be building false hopes to assume that we would get liberated without challenging the obstinacy of the old order with better ideas.

I have discovered that one of the problems that has hindered the youth from being relevant politically, economically and socially is the declining level of education. Unfortunately, we have an education system that rewards only grades.

Also, I have discovered that sound knowledge of history played an integral part in the developed world. Take a critical look at China and how its embraces its history, culture and values and how its citizens have used this to foster development in the country.

A nation cannot develop when the youths have forgotten their roots. The only way we can embrace true development is to remember our history and we should not forget the labour of our heroes past.

In order to set things right, the youth of today must re-invent themselves, learn and re-learn. We must strive to better ourselves, educate ourselves, learn skills, embrace entrepreneurship, and participate in the political and economic processes. We must understand that the governing class doesn’t want us to have a mental emancipation, rather they are satisfied to have us educated enough to pay our taxes and uneducated enough not to challenge the status quo.

Benjamin Disraeli said: “Almost everything that is great has been by youths.” To achieve greatness as a nation, the youth must be incorporated into the developmental plan of the nation; they must also develop and equip themselves for opportunities in order to be relevant and reach their full potential.

Source: The Nation

Youths are asset, not problem ― UN envoy

The United Nations, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ms Jayathma Wickramanayake, has stated that young people are an asset rather than being a problem.

She stated this while presenting the report on the findings of the independent progress study on “Youth, Peace and Security” to the Security Council.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria had while delivering a keynote address at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London last week disclosed that many Nigerian youths want everything free without doing anything.

Wickramanayake stated that report pointed to two key issues that needed immediate attention.
She said the first was the growing mistrust from young generations towards formal political institutions, while the other issue is the exclusion of young people from political, civic and economic life.

The study also showed that only a small minority of youth ever engaged in violence while many were actively engaging in their own local initiatives to bring peace to their communities.

According to the Envoy, “I believe we can all agree that my generation represents promise – not peril.

“We should be seen as an asset, not a problem,’’ she told Council members.
The envoy said the report’s findings and recommendations were an opportunity for the Council to redress the mistrust between young people, their government and the multilateral system.

This, she said, could be achieved by opening up new paths for meaningful participation and contribution.

Wickramanayake said tapping the potential and creativity of young people was indispensable to prevent conflict and build peace.
She urged governments to create conditions that allow their meaningful participation in civic and political lives.

The envoy underlined three critical areas – supporting youth’s peace efforts; prioritising their political participation; and partnering with them.
“I will not ask you to let young people lead as they are already leading.
“But they need inclusive, safe spaces and enabling environments to succeed.
“Recognise their work, fund it, scale it up and protect it,” she said, and called for dispelling misconceptions surrounding youth, citing studies that illustrated only a small minority of young people ever engage in violence.

Yet, Wickramanayake added, they face suspicions and undue restrictions, including when it comes to travelling across borders.

The envoy added that many had difficulties in obtaining travel permits.

She also called on all concerned to fully engage young people in electoral processes, political party structures and not to consider them “too young to run” for public office.

Source: Dailypost

YIAGA Africa Set to Partner EFCC on Anti-Corruption Fight

In a bid to intensify the fight against corruption across the federation, YIAGA Africa’s Accountability and Social Justice Team met with officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday 18th April 2018 about its Bounce Corruption Project, as both institutions are set to partner on the anti-graft war.

Elaborating on the essence of the Bounce Corruption Project, the Program Officer Mrs. Tracy Keshi informed the commission that the overall goal of the Bounce Corruption Project; supported by the MacArthur Foundation, is to promote zero tolerance for corruption and impunity through effective citizens’ oversight and mobilization for open and accountable governance. Further adding that, the project also aims to build resistance against corruption by exposing corrupt practices and demanding prosecution of indicted suspects. The Bounce Corruption Project will also mainstream young people in the fight against corruption in Nigeria. At the center of this project is the promotion of collaboration and networking with different stakeholders involved in the campaign against corruption and impunity in Nigeria she rounded up saying.

 

Mrs. Keshi noted that it is important for citizens especially in rural areas and educational institutions to be well informed about the work the anti-corruption agency is doing on the anti-corruption campaign and how they can also be actively involved in the anti-corruption war. She assured the commission that YIAGA Africa via its Bounce Corruption project is willing to partner with them on this regard. She also notified the commission that YIAGA Africa through its Bounce Corruption project had just concluded a nationwide public integrity debate competition for students of selected tertiary institutions across the six (6) geo-political zones of the country.

The debate competition provided a platform for harnessing youth views into the anti-corruption crusade as it gave the students the opportunity to analyze the effectiveness & ineffectiveness of the current administration’s anti-corruption strategy. The debate also provided a platform for propagating the values of integrity, transparency and accountability via the establishment of public integrity clubs in those institutions, she informed the commission.

During the meeting which held at the EFCC headquarters Abuja, EFCC head of Enlightenment and Reorientation, Mr Samin Amaddin appreciated the activities of YIAGA Africa in strides recorded in the anti-corruption campaign across the nation through the Bounce Corruption Project. He further stated that the commission can collaborate especially in establishing integrity clubs in schools, which is one of the major objectives of the project as it is a semblance of what the commission are also doing in various institutions across the country.

According to Mr Amaddin, the EFCC mandate focuses more on preventing corruption. This informed the establishment of integrity clubs to ensure zero tolerance to corruption. He stated that, the EFCC has integrity clubs in tertiary institutions such as the Ahmadu Bello University and Bayero University Kano, thus the impending collaboration with YIAGA Africa via its Bounce Corruption project is timely to improve anti-corruption activities in a bid to reduce corruption in Nigeria. He noted that the commission is doing a lot of work in youth engagement, as against what is mostly heard in public. Considering the challenge of limitations in funding for the commission in carrying out all these activities, he welcomed the partnership with YIAGA Africa as it resolves to work with the commission in the anti-corruption campaign.

Also speaking at the meeting is the EFCC School Desk Officer in charge of public integrity clubs in schools; Mrs. Zainab Bello. She revealed that the commission ensures it creates integrity clubs in every school it engages which includes Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Institution. According to Mrs. Bello, EFCC also engages National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members whose Community Development Project has to do with Zero Tolerance to create integrity club in the school they serve.

As the Grand Finale of YIAGA Africa’s Bounce Corruption Public Integrity Debate is scheduled to hold in May, the commission has expressed its willingness to be part of the finals which will see winners of all zones square-up in the FCT for the knockout and final round of the Public Integrity Debate Competition.