YIAGA, MacArthur Foundation Laud Covenant’s Performance at Debate Competition

A non-governmental organisation, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth, and Advancement (YIAGA) and the MacArthur Foundation have commended Covenant University for the successful participation of her students in the recently held South-West zone of the Bounce Corruption Public Integrity Debate Competition.

The debate competition, which featured Covenant University and three other institutions from the South-West geopolitical zone of Nigeria, was organised under the auspices of the Bounce Corruption project of YIAGA Africa, with support from the MacArthur Foundation.

The Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Mr. Samson Itodo, had in a letter of appreciation addressed to the Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University, Professor AAA. Atayero said that YIAGA and the MacArthur Foundation were inspired by the performance and character of Covenant students at the competition.

The debate competition, according to Mr. Itodo, provided a platform for harnessing youth views on the anti-corruption crusade as well as a platform for propagating the values of integrity, transparency, and accountability. YIAGA, he said, believes that the fight against corruption is a collective responsibility such that young people must begin to understand its importance and take the lead in demanding for good governance and accountability within their communities and Nigeria at large.

Covenant University emerged 1 runner-up at the debate competition won by the University of Lagos, while the University of Ibadan and Ekiti State University were 2 and 3runners-up respectively.

Source: Covenant University

Bounce Corruption Public Integrity Debate Storms North East Universities

The YIAGA Africa’s Bounce Corruption Public Integrity debate has stormed Northeastern Nigeria which Gombe State University Hosting three other Universities in the region as anti-corruption campaigns goes to Nigerian Tertiary University students. The debate which was held on 7th March saw University of Maiduguri, Federal Polytechnic Mubi, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University and host, Gombe state University go head to head debating about the effectiveness of President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption strategy.

The Public Integrity Debate in the North Central Zone of the country provided an intense debate among students from Gombe State University, Federal Polytechnic Mubi and University of Maiduguri. The students explored an intensive approach in choosing to criticize or uphold their stand of their perception of the government anti-corruption strategy and its provision in improving an accountable society.

The debaters took turns to emphasis the turning point in the current anti-corruption strategy. Debaters from the Federal Poly Mubi supported the motion that the current anti-corruption strategy was working because it provides a new sense of direction from all the previous administration non-institutional approach in fighting corruption. They argued that the current government has made improved attempts in harmonizing institutions with an enabling law which provides clarity of interpretation for the institution to pursue establishment of credible justice and an accountable society from state actors and citizens alike.

Opposing with stringent arguments that the current anti-corruption was not working were debaters from the University of Maiduguri who provided critical points hinged on a perception that the government was running a confused system with disorganized chronicles of excuses portrayed as results of fighting corruption.

The debating pair cited that the anti-corruption strategy was flexible and relative in efficiency, citing lawmaker Joshua Dariye has receiving cover from judicial probing shortly after re-aligning with the ruling political party. Adding that anti-corruption strategy document is an adopted document that cannot tackle root causes of corruption in Nigeria while failing to give a coherent analysis of the war against corruption in Nigeria. The debaters described that without proper resolution against factors in war against corruption as proposed by Professor Chidi Odinkalu of the London Business School, the fight against corruption will be both incommunicable and ineffective.

Taking up the position also for the government were debaters from the Gombe State University who described the effort of government in the fight against corruption as both preventive and corrective. They argued on the motion that the anti-corruption strategy was working with evidence seen in the recovery of loot; rescue of kidnapped school girls and lecturers and resolving ammunition insurgency in the country by investigating sponsors of rebel groups. The team concluded on the premise that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has done a lot to stamp out corruption.

The presiding judges included, Mr. Franklin Ubi, Secretary, All-Nigeria Universities Debating Council (Chief Adjudicator);  Mohammed Baba Fika, Deputy Superintendent, ICPC Bauchi Zonal Office  (Adjudicator) and  Bello Adamu Bajoga, Head, Public Affairs Dept. EFCC North East Zonal Office, Gombe State (Adjudicator).

After intensive dialogue amongst the judges, Chief Adjudicator, Franklin Ubi announced the results with University of Maiduguri coming 1st, closely followed by   Position Gombe state University in 2nd position while Federal Polytechnic Mubi and Abubakar Tafa Balewa Uni Bauchi came 3rd and 4th respectively.

While appreciating YIAGA Africa with the support of Macarthur Foundation for the initiative, the Head of Business Administration, Dr. Babangida Musa said he believes in the goals of the project; encouraging the orientation should be extended to young people under the age of 18 years. Also, from the Business Administration, Professor M. Musa described as intense and urgent the need to point young people in a direction to avoid sacrificing national development on the altar of greed.



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 Not Too Young To Run movement received with pleasure news of the transmission of the constitution amendments from the state Houses of Assembly to the National Assembly on 1 March 2018 for transmission to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the next and final stage in the constitution amendment process of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended.

The Age Reduction bill popularly referred to as the Not Too Young To Run bill received affirmative votes from thirty-five (35) state assemblies. In other words, 35 state houses of assembly have passed the Not Too Young To Run bill seeking to reduce the age for running for elective office in Nigeria. With this passage, the bill has met the constitutional threshold prescribed by Section 9 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). The Section stipulates that any amendment to the constitution must be approved by at least 24 state Houses of Assembly. This is a landmark achievement and commend all the states that passed the bill.

Few weeks ago, the movement inaugurated 25 state assemblies into the Hall of Fame. We are glad that the number has increased to 35. We therefore use this opportunity to inaugurate the following 10 state assemblies into the Hall of Fame;

Bayelsa State House of Assembly
Cross River State House of Assembly
Edo State House of Assembly
Kano State House of Assembly
Osun State House of Assembly
Oyo State House of Assembly
Rivers State House of Assembly
Sokoto State House of Assembly
Taraba State House of Assembly
Zamfara State House of Assembly
It is instructive to note that the Taraba State House of Assembly which was earlier inaugurated into the Not Too Young To Run Hall of Shame reversed its earlier vote on Not Too Young To Run Bill. The House met on Monday the 19th of February 2018 and passed the age reduction bill.

On 11 August 2016 in his International Youth Day speech, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognized the roles that young Nigerians played in the historic election that brought his government to power and made a commitment that this government belongs to youth.

President Buhari also used the International Youth Day to assure Nigeria youth of his commitment to improving the quality of our lives and to create opportunities for us to achieve our dreams and ambitions. The statement was mindful of the fact that Nigeria has one of the youngest populations in the world.

In the words of President Buhari to Nigeria youth, “You are the strength and future of our country. Please be assured that this administration will create an enabling environment for you to realize your potentials.”

As a movement, we remind President Buhari of his promises to Nigeria youth and of our determined quest for a true people’s constitution anchored on the principles of inclusion, equality and justice.

We therefore invite citizens to join us on Wednesday 14 March 2018 for the National Day of Action on Presidential Assent as we engage the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR to sign the age reduction bill and fulfill his promises to millions of Nigerian youth.

The Movement calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the constitutional amendment bill especially the Age Reduction bill as soon as the bills are transmitted to him for assent. We therefore, also urge the National Assembly to without further delay transmit the Constitutional amendment Bills to the President for assent.

The National Day of Action is designed to demonstrate that the large youth population is in support of the age reduction bill being considered as part of the constitution amendment process.

The National Day of Action is NOT a protest, but is a peaceful citizen engagement with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

We hope to use the National Day of Action to emphasise the need for the Constitution review process to be concluded speedily.

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.

We invite you to join us at Unity Fountain, Abuja by 8:00am on 14 March 2018.

One Shared Value, One Shared Goal, #NOTTOOYOUNGTORUN

Our Shared Value, Our Shared Goal, #NOTTOOYOUNGTORUN


Abuja Global Shapers
African Youth Initiative on Population, Health & Development (AfrYPoD)
Connected Development [CODE] Dean Initiative
The Election Network
League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN)
Mind Capital
The Nigerian Youth Parliament
Project Pink Blue
Social Good Nigeria
TechHer NG
The YALI Network
Youngstars Foundation
Youth Hub Africa
YIAGA Africa
Amplified Radio
Media Insight
Say No Campaign
Vision Alive Foundation, Abia
Youth Initiative for Better Change, Adamawa
Young Activists Initiative Nigeria, Akwa Ibom
Integrity Youth Development Initiative, Anambra
Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, Bayelsa
The Bridge Youth Development Foundation, Benue
Exit Lanes, Borno
After School Centre for Career Development, Cross River
DIG Foundation, Ebonyi
Connected Advocacy, Edo
Inspiration Care Centre, Ekiti
New Century Initiative, Enugu
Dandalin Matasa Initiative for Rapid Development, Gombe
Development Dynamics, Imo
Centre for Environmental Research and Development, Jigawa
One Project Afrika. Kaduna
Centre for Advocacy in Gender and Social Inclusion, Kano
Youth Entrepreneurship Support Hub, Katsina
Youth Consensus Forum, Kebbi
Youth Emancipation for the Society (ProjectYES), Kogi
Brain Builders International, Kwara
Grassroots Mobilization Initiative, Nasarawa
Nigerian Young Professionals Forum, Niger
Youth Future Savers Initiatives, Ogun
Youth Aglow Initiative, Ondo
Kimpact Development Initiative, Osun
Young Care Initiative, Oyo
Centre for Youth Participation Advocacy, Plateau
Golden Star Development Initiative, Sokoto
Rural Integrated Development Initiative, Taraba
North East Youth Initiative Forum, Yobe
Golden Stars Development Initiative, Zamfara
Modaville Centre for Development, Lagos
National Organization for Citizens Orientation (NOCO), Rivers State.
Nigerian Youth Action (NYA), Rivers State, Nigeria

YIAGA Africa Urges Improved Monitoring of Budget for Women

Fresh from reviewing the 2018 budget allocation for youth development which it describes as unrealistic and insufficient, YIAGA Africa has lauded the increased programmes targeted at women and girls while urging the improved monitoring and evaluation of such allocations as sometimes funds are not expended in reality. This is contained in the report of the 2018 Budget Gender Review conducted by YIAGA Africa’s Centre for Legislative Engagement.

The review, which was presented by Barrister Stella Odiase to stakeholders at a validation meeting in Abuja, shows that for the first time within the past decade, more sectors like Health, Education Solid Minerals, Environment, Niger Delta and Communication Technology have included funding that targets women and girls specifically.

YIAGA Africa Programs Manager, Cynthia Mbamalu making a remark during the Gender Responsive Budget validation meeting

During the presentation, Barrister Odiase also revealed that some Ministries have, for the first time, included the implementation of sector policies that target gender disparities as part of their respective budgets in 2018. “For instance, there is funding to implement the gender policies of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Women Affairs have budgets for the implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015”, she said.

The 2018 budget gender review which seeks to address the limitations that either gender faces when it comes to accessing public goods and services, also revealed that there are opportunities in every sector to improve the situation of women and girls during the implementation of generic programmes at little or no additional costs especially at the level of research and development, Monitoring and Evaluation, stakeholder consultations, skills transfer and training.

Meanwhile the 2018 budget has also retained the N500 billion Social Investment Portfolio (SIP) allocation for third fiscal year in a row, which presents an opportunity to further expand opportunities and access for women and girls. The SIP portfolio was introduced in 2015 by the Buhari Administration under the auspices of the Federal Government’s National Social Investment Office (NSIO).

My Not-Too-Young-To-Run story – Maryam Laushi

“Fortune favors the brave”, it is commonly said. This quote aptly describes the journey of what has become a watershed moment in the movement to encourage inclusion and better participation of young people in politics in Nigeria as embodied by the ‘Not Too Young to Run’ movement.

For an organic movement that started with an unlikely band of 20 pioneer young fellows to grow exponentially to become one of the most powerful community mobilization efforts ever, for youth inclusion in Nigeria, NTYTR has greatly evolved over the past two years. This evolution has, in no small way been aided by the enthusiastic effort of so many different people in different places who joined along the way that it is difficult to even know each other.

I have thus come to realise that it is necessary to share my own experience to provide a better understanding of the movement, not in the general sense but from my specific perspective to provide an understanding of the beauty of this movement and, what we started out to do. Here is my story – one that I sometimes liken to be one of the most interesting adventures I have ever had.


This question has been the bane of this movement for me. In almost every interview or conversation I have had, the question of young people’s readiness always cropped up. Now, here is the issue with this: The question is based on a skewed thinking that, All young people are identical and behave in the same way. WRONG!

Young people have different goals, experiences, ideas and interests and so we cannot expect to answer that question directly. Some young people are ready and there are those who aren’t. However, I think people stray away from the main point of Not Too Young To Run when they ask that question. The right question to ask is this- does the movement encourage a more democratic Nigeria? The answer to that question is ‘yes’ because out of the tens of millions of people aged 18-35 in Nigeria, all are allowed to vote but not allowed by the constitution to contest for political office.

Isn’t it interesting that people who are trusted enough to join the army, defend the country, enter into legally binding contracts are constitutionally denied the right to run for elected office? NTYTR is not a promise that young people will solve all of Nigeria’s problems. Neither is it advocating for a complete change of guards from old to new. Rather, it is about giving young people the space to participate at all levels of the political process – the right for young people to vote and be voted for. This is the premise of an all-inclusive political process; one that we staunchly believe will improve and revolutionise the process in Nigeria. As we have seen in other countries in Africa and across the world, the inclusion of young people into the political process enhances rather than diminishes the delivery of good governance.

NOTE: If someone is qualified and trusted for the job, voters should not be deprived of that person as an option.

Think about the young man in Kenya, who at about 24 years old and still a student won a legislative seat. He did not win because he had money for posters, he reportedly went around neighbourhoods, door-to-door, to explain to people what he planned to do and that was how he won over their votes. The point of this story is to explain that at his young age, he had something of value to offer that his constituents found valuable enough so they chose him. This is the beauty of democracy.


Now, I want to tell the story of how I got involved with the Not Too Young To Run movement. I had been volunteering for YIAGA (Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement) – a dynamic and progressive youth led Civil Society Organisation. I started out as a volunteer for the ‘Young Legislators Accountability Program’ with YIAGA. Along the way, I remember receiving information about a bill to reduce the age to contest for elective office and being added to the WhatsApp Group where we had a clearer discussion on the bill and made contributions to what ages we all thought were appropriate until a final draft was developed.

This was the birth of the “Not Too Young Strategy Team” – a group of 20+ young persons convened by the seemingly quiet but very intelligent Samson Itodo with myself, Adeshola Komolafe, Bella Ann Ndubuisi, Chioma Chuka, Cynthia Mbamalu, Hamzat Lawal, Ibrahim Faruk, Jenny, Kenneth, Laz Uze Ede, Mark Amaza, Nana Nwachukwu, Runcie Chidebe, Safiya Bichi, Ukachi Chukwu, Yetunde Bakare, Moshood, Fatu Oguche, Stephanie Oyaide, Frederick Adetiba as the core pioneer members. Over the next few months and with the contributions of those of us in the core strategy team, the movement would take up a unique life of its own as we had initially set out to do.

Being quite active on social media, I did not hesitate in pushing discourses and engaging the online community on this salient issue. In doing this, many people may have had the (mis)conception that NotTooYoungToRun was an online movement when in fact; the real work was going on offline. Along the way, Not Too Young To Run grew so much that the press and policy makers could no longer ignore the movement. The movement gained public support from notable people such as the Rt Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives, The British High Commissioner, The Australian High Commission and even adoption of the movement by the United Nations Youth Envoy where we began to see it being discussed by young people in different countries.

What a lot of people don’t know is that the march to the National Assembly was not planned. Having heard so many stories of how the bill was not even going to be considered by the legislators, we felt we had no choice- within a short period of time, meetings held and the 5,000 man march was on.

A lot of work had gone into it by the time its success was recorded at the National Assembly and for the first time, I can comfortably speak for myself by saying I breathed a huge sigh of relief, knowing that our effort had not been in vain and confident in the path that lay ahead of the movement. At this point, I must also thank Senator Nyako and Hon. Tony Nwulu for sponsoring this on the floors of the National Senate and National House of representatives respectively. Who knows where the movement would have been without this? Thank you for your courage at a time many didn’t give this a chance.

I must add this; the successes of the NTYTR movement could not have been possible if young Nigerians had not identified with the cause. It was something that so many people identified with from the start and it is equally commendable that the NTYTR Core Strategy Team set out from the start to ensure that ownership of the movement belonged to every young Nigerian. We wanted it to stay that way and still do. With the benefit of hindsight, this was a genius decision.

The Not Too Young To Run teams grew astronomically in States across the nation… it was clear that even with scarce resources, so many young people were willing to volunteer time and energy into ensuring this bill was passed. The members who were in the States around Nigeria were incredibly zealous. In fact, many of them wanted to travel to Abuja for the march that took place from Unity Fountain all the way to the entrance of the National Assembly in July 2017. That was a triumphant day for the movement and the multitude of people who walked in solidarity that day was nothing short of amazing.


Of course, after that success, people had a lot to say – some in favour but the sceptics were not left out either. There were false claims and false accusations even from people who were close enough to the strategy team to know better but that was to be expected for a movement that had grown to such a scale. It was so hard for them to believe that such a movement could grow so organically, it was an amazing feat to behold.

The swiftness and ease with which the many challenges faced were handled must have given a wrong impression that pushing this movement was a walk in the park but I must commend everyone who participated and ensured all hands were on deck to move the movement forward. You are the real heroes. Your work and effort ensured the movement is what it has become today.

At the next stage and after the National assembly voted on the amendment, 24 State Houses of Assembly out of 36 were constitutionally required to get the bill to its final stage for Presidential Assent. Initially, the voting process started out slow with so many negative assumptions that these bills would not pass in the required 24 States. Kastina, Borno, Adamawa, Nassarawa, Benue, Delta, Ondo, Kwara, Yobe, Ekiti and Enugu had passed it in no particular order when Taraba State House of Assembly voted ‘against’ it in a turn of events but engagement with the youths in Taraba State continued, in order to understand what went wrong.

In a commendable turn of events and a reflection of the power of the youth, 24 States had voted YES by the 13th of Febriary 2018 confirming that the stage was complete and paving the way for the president’s assent. Still, it was important for all States to show their support and show that they were youth friendly by making sure to represent the desires of the Nigerian youth they represent. Taraba State House of Assembly reconsidered the bill after several advocacy initiatives by young people in the state and they overturned their earlier ‘NO’ vote.

As we await the votes from other States, it is my sincere and humble request that they carefully consider the clamour among the youths they represent for this bill to a success. It is important that all other States which are yet to vote confirm that they fully align with the aspirations of Nigerian youth. After observing the efforts of State Coordinators and volunteers all across Nigeria, one must commend their audaciousness and commitment that made this movement an even bigger force than was ever expected. As we await presidential assent, I am confident that the state coordinators and volunteers will keep pushing for 36 out of 36 because every Nigerian youth in every state deserves that chance.

We are at the final stage now, which requires President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the bill. Mr. President, history will forever be in your favour if you listen to the yearnings of the Nigerian Youth who make up the single largest voting bloc in this country.

Nigerian youths have agreed to march to your official residence, Ask Rock, on 14th March 2018 as a request for your Excellency to take this bill into consideration and we humbly look forward to positive results.

We are tired of sitting on the sidelines. Young Nigerians will, God willing, be able to run for political office in the upcoming 2019 elections if you act quick. Will you align with us on the positive side of history?

The youth aren’t only ‘Not Too Young’ To Run but also ‘Ready to Run’ and able to perform. The time to act is now.

History will be made!

There are so many stories of how things happened behind the scenes that I am not able to tell but the truth is.. so many young people worked tirelessly to make this movement come to life and continue moving.

INEC Must Meet Increased Registration Demand by Citizens – YIAGA Africa

Having deployed citizen observers across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, to keep an eye on the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) process, YIAGA Africa’s WatchingTheVote has observed that there is an upsurge in the demand for registration by citizens which must be met by the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

According to an Observation report released by the citizen-led election observation initiative, the challenge remains that some people are not aware of the location of CVR centers while some of the machines in use are obsolete and have been breaking down in the course of registration.

According to the report, the queue at the registration centers are unabated, security deployment is not across board and most political parties are not deploying their agents. Observation reports also shows that registrants also complained about inadequate registration centers especially in big Local Governments that require at least 3 or more Registration points. Late arrival and early departure of INEC personnel was also among the challenges reported by WTV Observers.

The WTV team lauded INEC on the effective conduct of the process apart from delay in processing registrants and lack of enough machines and personnel while also applauding the resilience of Nigerians to get registered even in the face of challenges.

In view of these challenges, YIAGA Africa recommended that INEC should make available more DDC machines and personnel to meet up with high demand for registration. The report also recommended that registration period can be extended to 6pm to ensure the commission registers more people in a day as more awareness should be created on new registration centers to enable citizens locate



2018 budget of sports ministry unrealistic – YIAGA AFRICA – CLE

YIAGA Africa-Centre for Legislative Engagement (YIAGA-CLE) an NGO, has said the 2018 budget for the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is “unrealistic.”

The Executive Director of the NGO, Mr Samson Itodo made the statement during an advocacy visit to the Chairman, House Committee on Youths and Development, Rep. Segun Adekola (Ekiti-PDP) in Abuja.

Represented by the Senior Programme Manager of the NGO, Ms Yetunde Bakare, Itodo stressed the need to review the budget for the benefits of the youths in the country.

Itodo explained that YIAGA-CLE with support from the European Union undertook an analysis of the 2018 budget of the ministry.

He said that the aim was to ascertain the position of youth development on the priority list of the Federal Government based on the budget proposal and its responsiveness to the needs young people.

Itodo explained that the analysis also looked at the budget of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, the Ministry Agriculture and Rural Development.

He said that the budget of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the budget for the Social Investment Program (SIP) and the budget for the National Directorate of Employment were equally analysed.

He said the youth ministry had been allocated the sum of N16.2 billion which represents 1.4 per cent of the N8.612 trillion proposal of the Federal Government.

Itodo said a breakdown of the budget indicated that the recurrent budget consisting Salaries and Overheads takes a larger share of 95 per cent while the capital budget which funds projects and programmes was only 5 per cent.

He said that the budget failed to meet the government’s policy of 30 to 70 per cent allocation for recurrent and capital expenditures respectively.

The executive director said that the ministry’s budget was very lean when compared to the role it is expected to perform.

He said that too many new underfunded projects were introduced and were likely to result to incomplete projects.

According to him, details of the budget were not explicit to ensure transparency and fiscal responsibility.

Itodo recommended an adjustment in the budget to increase the allocation for capital expenditures.

He recommended that projects on entrepreneurship, vocational skill acquisition training should be adequately funded.

Responding, the committee chairman blamed the situation on the merging of the Ministry of Youth Development and the Federal Ministry of Sports.

Adekola said that the merger had really affected youth development as the focus is now mainly on sports.

He said that the mandate of youth development had been relegated to the background.

Adekola said that during the budget defence, the committee was vehement that there was nothing in the budget to take care of youth development.

The Chairman said most youths are not gainfully employed and that the thousands of youths roaming the streets was responsible for the unabated spate of militancy, terrorism, prostitution and the menace of herdsmen.

“So I agree with you that the budget did not take adequate care of youths, it is unfortunate that we have already passed the budget defence stage.

“However, we will make sure a holistic investigation and forensic auditing is carried out in the ministry,” he said.

The Chairman said that the committee had made a case for the establishment of a youth commission to take care of the welfare of young people

Source: NAN

 #WatchingTheVote Election Series: Politicians Greatest Threat to Nigeria’s Electoral Democracy – Jega

Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said politicians were the greatest threat to Nigeria’s democracy.  Jega said this during the Watching the Vote Election Series held in Abuja with the theme “Is Nigeria’s Democracy Under Threat?, as he explained that the recklessness of Nigerian Politicians to destabilise the democratic process needs to be checkmated

Prof Jega who chaired the maiden edition of the Election series organised by YIAGA Africa said, “Nigeria like all countries face threats to its democracy, we must identify the threats that have the tendency to derail the development of our democracy and address them.

Bar. Dan Nwanyawu, Prof Jega and Idayat Hassan during the WTV elections series

“We must also checkmate the threats of politicians to undermine our democracy because all we need now is adding value to the process and We also need to mobilise our people in towns and villages to be part of the electoral process and ensure that we do not engage in authoritarian reversal which would take us several years to get back on track.

“The signals are there, the fragility of the system is evident, we are a country with enormous systemic security challenges.” The former INEC boss, therefore, advised that Nigerians should have quality representatives that would provide good governance and protect the interest of the people.

Jega also faulted the power of the National Assembly to alter the sequence in which elections are conducted saying, change in the election sequence undermines the independence of electoral body.

Professor Jega pointed out that several sections of the constitution also stated that the power to organise and set the date for elections remain the exclusive preserve of INEC. He also decried that more funds would be needed to finance the conduct of elections if the nation was to go by the recommendation of the National Assembly.

The panel discussion which was moderated by Seun Okinbaloye had former Chairman of Labour Party, Dan Nwanyanwu, Chief Executive Director of Centre for Democracy and Development, Idayat Hassan to discuss roles of Political parties and Civil Societies in Nigeria’s Electoral Democracy. Also, on the panel of discussion is Udo Jude Ilo, the Country Officer and Head of Nigeria Office of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

Panelists at the WTV Election Series

On the theme, Is Nigeria’s electoral democracy under threat? Ms Idayat Hassan decried the stage of our electoral democracy saying, having 68 registered political parties is a major issue as majority of the parties don’t have representation in the entire 36 states of the federation especially at the grassroots.  Similarly, Udo Jude Ilo also agreed saying there should be a threshold of registering political parties as it is not sustainable to continue to spend huge funds in conducting elections in Nigeria.

With regard the roles of political parties play in Nigeria’s electoral democracy, Barrister Dan Nwanyanwu said, political parties are much more concerned winning elections rather than the credibility of the electoral process itself. According to him, For us to have a level plain ground for all and a stronger democratic system, there is need for voters education.

As part of conscious effort to improve our electoral democracy, Director General of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr Garba Abari who is also present at the WatchingTheVote Election Series said, Nigeria’s democracy was under threat and the signs and indicators were evident. Abari stressed the need for government to partner CSOs to educate Nigerians on elections to especially curb invalid votes. He said NOA was concerned about the number of invalid votes that kept recurring during elections, adding that there was need to educate the electorate on election procedure.

DG NOA, Dr. Garba Abari speaking in Voter Education

According to the Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, the Election series could not have come at a better time with barely 385 days to the 2019 General elections. Mr Itodo said, there was need for Nigerians to redesign what the future of the nation would look like. Itodo said the election programme was timely as it was aimed at assessing the state of Nigeria’s democracy and to chat the way forward.

Participants at the WTV Election Series

WatchingTheVote Program Director Cynthia Mbamalu giving her vote of thanks, said 2019 elections is going to be critical to us as Nigerians thus we at YIAGA will continue to engage citizens to ensure credible elections in Nigeria.


Honorable Chairman,

YIAGA Africa-Centre for Legislative Engagement (YIAGA-CLE) with support from the European Union undertook an analysis of the 2018 Appropriation bill from a youth perspective to ascertain the Federal government’s priority for youth development based on the budget proposal and its responsiveness to the needs young people. The analysis looked at the budget for the Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development and some social and economic including the budget for the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the budget for the Social Investment Program (SIP) and the budget for the National Directorate of Employment.

Considering that the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development’s (FMYSD) was created with the mandate to provide overarching policy direction and coordination for youth development in Nigeria, the focus on the budget for the ministry was to ensure that the budget was structured to fulfil the Ministry’s mission of providing the necessary infrastructure, sustainable framework, policies to enhance the development of the Nigerian Youth, the protection of their rights and continuous improvement of the quality of life for the entire citizenry and making Nigeria one of the leading sporting nations in the world.

The budget for the Ministry is divided in into four parts according to the four parastatals under the Ministry. This include; the FMYSD – Head Quarters (HQ), the Centre for Citizenship and Leadership, the National Youth Service Corps, the Nigeria Football Federation and The Nigeria Institute for Sports.

The FMYSD has been allocated 1.4% of theN8.612trillion budget proposal of the 2018 Federal Government budget, this amounts to N116,220,852,559. A breakdown of this budget indicates that the recurrent budget consisting Salaries and Overheads takes a larger share of 95% while the capital budget which funds projects and programmes is only 5%.

 General observation on the FMYSD budget

Generally, it is observed that the FMYSD budget is very lean when compared to the role it is expected to perform. A break-down of the budget indicates that the recurrent expenditure as it is currently proposed gulps 95% of the budget while the capital expenditure is limited to only 5% of the budget. This at first instance presents a major challenge considering that share of capital is lopsided and fails to meet the government’s policy of 70 to 30 for recurrent and capital budgets. Interestingly, most of the expenditure lines are administrative in nature. In other words, priority is placed on procurement of items such as vehicles, computers, furniture fittings, repairs of offices etc.

In addition, the proposed budget for the FMYSD introduced too many new projects, which are underfunded with the likelihood to result in several incomplete projects thus adding to the growing number of abandoned projects. Details of budget line were not explicit to ensure transparency and fiscal responsibility. For instance, budget items in the FMYSD – HQ and the Nigeria Football Federation budget for sporting activities within the recurrent budget were not clearly stated. Both agencies could end up expending public resources for same activities if the type, location and beneficiaries are not clearly stated. Some of the specific observations include:

  1. The review of FMYSD budget shows that all the agencies did not apply the principles of good budgeting. Budgets of agencies were unrealistic given the magnitude of the problem and challenges youth face in Nigeria.
  2. The review of the national Youth policy tagged as an ongoing project means it was not completed in the last fiscal year. It is not clear if the amount budgeted for this fiscal year will be enough to complete the process. A national Youth Policy should be current and developed to address present day challenges while acting as a guide to develop relevant youth intervention in Nigeria.
  3. 49 new projects of FMYSD –HQ are too many resulting in a lean budget spread across many activities.
  4. Budgets for entrepreneurship and skills building aretoo lean to yield any significance in numbers of youths reached or results.
  5. A budget of N15m each for 40 Federal Universities, 21 Federal Polytechnics and over 100 Unity Schools respectively for sports equipments is lean. It is not clear  how many schools  in each category will benefit from these equipments
  6. Youth training on citizenship and leadership should be prioritized in the FMYSD 2018 budget, given the worrisome trends in youth agitations across the Country.
  7. Public private partnerships for the provision of entrepreneurship, vocational and sporting activities through the agencies should be encouraged and such budgets captured within public funding to ensure accountability.
  8. The Ministry should adjust its pattern of allocation to the 70:30 percent rule for Recurrent and Capital budget respectively, reflecting the policy on public finance
  9. Allocations to youth programmes should be strictly for young persons. Lumping budgets for youth with women was seen across most of the sectors. Although both are vulnerable groups their needs are surely different.


  1. It is therefore recommended that the MDAs adjusts the pattern of allocation to the 70:30 percent rule for Recurrent and Capital budget respectively, reflecting the policy on public finance management which the Federal Government has adjusted to.
  2. New projects within agencies should be reduced to a manageable number that will allow for optimal funding of project and possible completion within the medium term, depending on the size of the project.
  3. Projects on entrepreneurship, vocational skills should be adequately funded or left to specific ministries with direct functions such as NDE. There is need to harmonize youth programmes to ensure synergies and reduce duplications – a guideline on responsibility and budget priority for youth within federal agencies should be produced by the FMYSD.
  4. To avoid duplications, budgets for Sporting Activities in FMYSD-HQ and the Nigeria Football Federation should provide details on type, location and target audience. This will ensure a more transparent and efficient allocation of resources.
  5. Youth training on Leadership is very important. The Citizens and Leadership Centre’s budget should be increased to provide at least 6 zonal leadership programmes yearly. The agency should also reflect it revenue generating capacity within its budget.
  6. Public private partnerships for the provision of entrepreneurship and sporting activities through the relevant agencies should be encouraged and such budgets captured within public funding to ensure accountability
  7. The MDA’s should budget separately for youth activities from that of women and children. Since this is an area of intervention that needs strategic approach, it is important that allocations are separated; this will also enable tracking of funds and oversight of budget.

In conclusion, YIAGA-CLE is of the opinion that the budget of the Ministry as proposed is unrealistic given the magnitude of the youth demography and challenges youth face in Nigeria. This challenge is not peculiar to the budget of just the FMYSD but extends to the other social and economic sector that directly or indirectly impacts on youth development. Identifying this challenge and underscoring the importance of inclusive budgeting that meets the needs of the youth, YIAGA-CLE has designed a toolkit for Youth Development. This toolkit will be presented to the Committee of Youth Development and partners working to promote youth development. This toolkit will further strengthen the oversight function of the Committee for regulatory supervision of public expenditure to ensure transparency and accountability of public resources that truly meet the need of young people in Nigeria.


Samson Itodo

Executive Director


Is Nigeria’s Electoral Democracy Under Threat? Prof. Jega Set to Chair  Watching the Vote Panel Discussion

The 2019 election is barely 360 days away and we are yet to conclude on the amendments to the Electoral Act, the budget for the Independent National Electoral Commission for 2018 that directly impacts on the planning for the February 2019 General Elections and the increasing demand by citizens for the auditing of the National Voter Register especially with the controversial allegation of underage voters from the just concluded Local Government Elections in Kano State. In addition, is the rising insecurity, the rise of ethnic militancy and fragmentation as well as the poor state of the economy remain key issues as we move towards the 2019 General Elections.

As Several issues dominating the electoral discourse remain contentious and while each side of the argument will affirm superiority, the important question on how all these impacts on the success and credibility of the 2019 general election is yet to answered. The maiden edition of the YIAGA Africa WatchingTheVote Election Dialogue Series will be providing a platform for key stakeholders to debate on these issues while seeking to provide answers to the question: “Is Nigeria’s Democracy Under Threat?” The Panel session which will be chaired by the Immediate Past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Professor Attahiru Jega, billed to take place on 22nd February 2019 with Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, Udo Jude Ilo, Idayat Hassan and Chef (Barr.) Dan Nwanyanwu as speakers. The WTV Election Dialogue Series is a high level electoral policy dialogue designed to create a platform for engagement on the 2019 general elections in Nigeria. The event-based series provides an opportunity for key election stakeholders and citizens to engage on pathways for ensuring free, credible and peaceful elections in 2019.

While the 2015 general election was largely believed to be free and fair, it was far from perfect with records of poor voter turnout. The 2019 elections present’s more intriguing prospects with more citizens getting interested in the election as indicated in the rate of turn-out for the Continuous Voter Registration exercise and the whole discourse on having more young people and new alliances contest for the elections. As an active participant in the elections and one of the Election observer groups in Nigeria, there is no better time to build on the lessons learnt from previous elections and engage stakeholders; INEC, Political Parties, Civil society Organizations (CSOs), Media, Security Agents and citizens for better preparation for the forthcoming 2019 general election. This is most needful as Nigeria begins the countdown on the “Road to 2019” General Elections.



Samson Itodo

Executive Director, YIAGA Africa