How Youth Fared in the 2019 Elections
Nigeria has conducted five general elections since the return to civil rule: 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. The five elections were noted for the low levels of youth participation as candidates. This is regardless of the determining role of young people as voters and election administrators. This situation was in part due contest the following elective positions and seats: President 40 years, Senate 35 years, House of Representatives 30 years, Governors 35 years and State Houses of Assembly 30 years. The constitutional age requirements shut the door on Nigerian youth who constitute a majority of the population and registered voters.
The 2019 general elections remain one of the most contested elections since the transition to democracy in 1999 with 91 registered political parties, 73 Presidential candidates, 1,904 candidates for the Senate, 4,680 for the House of Representatives, 1,066 for the Governorship, and 14, 583 for the State Assemblies. The elections, beyond the high number of candidate highlight a more competitive political environment with the increase in the political debates, and more importantly the number of young people registered as voters and contesting the elections.
The signing into law of the Not Too Young To Run legislation addressed a major impediment to youth participation in politics.It was a positive action towards closing the representation gap and represented a shift towards inclusiveness. As a result of the reduction of age limits, Nigeria has witnessed a new wave of competent and credible young women and men aspiring to run for office in the 2019 elections.
For the first time in Nigeria’s post independence history, young people between the ages of 25-30 were legally empowered to contest for seats in the House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly.