For driving the advocacy and process that brought into reality the “Not too young to run” legislation that has led to the successful reduction of age limits for public office seekers, Samson Itodo is LEADERSHIP Outstanding Young Person of the Year 2018.
Samson Itodo, a native of Olamaboro local government area of Kogi State, was born in Bauchi State. He is the first of five children. Young Itodo began his leadership journey from a very young age as a class prefect in Our Lady’s Primary School, school prefect in Immaculate Conception Secondary School, Bauchi, class representative at the Faculty of Law, University of Jos, and chairman of the Students Representative Council at the Nigerian Law School, Abuja.
Young Itodo’s interests span constitution building, elections, legislative studies, youth and international development. With a Master’s degree in Law from the University of Jos, he stated that the foundation for his interest in civic activism and democracy promotion was laid during his under-graduate days.
Samson is a highly motivated, innovative and purpose -driven individual with the ability to creatively develop ideas into projects and drive social transformation. He has over 10 years’ experience and expertise in legal research and analysis, legislative advocacy, constitution building, elections, grant seeking, volunteerism and youth development. Just like his leadership traits, recognition for his work and contribution to democracy began quite early.
In 2012, he won a prize as the best student in Government; he was second overall best graduating student in Arts class in secondary school. In 2006, he received an award of excellence for human rights protection from the Rotaract Club of Jos. Recently, he was appointed as one of 100 most influential young Africans by the Africa Youth Awards. He was also named one of the 10 most powerful names in advocacy in Nigeria.
In 2018, he was appointed by the Gates Foundation as a goalkeeper and honoured by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Washington DC, as a rising political leader in Africa. He is also a recipient of the prestigious True Nigerian Award. Samson heads the leading community of change makers and pro-democracy activists, YIAGA Africa, a civic organization focused on building sustainable democracies in Africa anchored on the principles of inclusion, justice, rule of law and constitutionalism. He led the formation of the Youth Alliance on Constitution & Electoral Reform (YACORE), the first ever youth coalition on constitution and electoral reform in Nigeria.
Itodo is a champion for quality youth representation in national parliaments across Africa. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Young Parliamentarians Forum in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Ghana. He currently leads efforts to establish the forum across West Africa.
He also leads the Watching the Vote, a citizens observation initiative designed to promote electoral integrity using data and technology. YIAGA Africa’s Watching the Vote is Nigeria’s largest citizen movement on electoral integrity. He has led election observation missions to Ghana, United States of America, South Africa, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The young activist is a founding member of the African Movement for Democracy (AMD), a network of activists and youth leaders dedicated to deepening democracy in Africa.
Itodo is constantly called upon to provide analysis on burning issues on democratic principles. He has appeared on local and international media stations such as AIT, Channels, NTA, BBC, Nigeria Info, Wazobia FM and RFI. He is also a co-founder of Amplified Online Radio, a pan-African youth talk and music radio station.
He is an avid reader and writer and has published several articles and papers in local and international journals.
He is a fellow of the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town, International Visitors Leadership Programme of the US Department of State, and the Swedish Visitors Leadership Programme.
As a researcher, he has consulted for local and international organisations like United States Institute for Peace (USIP), Westminster Foundation for Democracy, International IDEA, International Republican Institute and United Nations Development Programme.