The Age reduction constitution amendment, popularly known as the Not Too Young To Run legislation, remains a historic milestone in the Nigerian socio-political landscape. The battle for inclusion in the country’s politics, however, is not over yet, as several political party bottlenecks—amongst other challenges—are still faced by budding young politicians.
In this light, on Tuesday, December 12th, 2019, the State Coordinators across 36 states of Nigeria converged in Abuja to project a pathway for increased youth political representation in elective offices. The crusaders of the movement who mobilized citizens from their respective states were instrumental in ensuring State Houses of Assembly lawmakers voted ‘yes’ to the historic age reduction amendment.
Speaking during the meeting, the Convener of the movement, Samson Itodo, reflected on the historic journey saying the team has changed the political landscape of Nigeria forever. He said, “I remember a few years ago, we set out on a journey that seemed impossible, believing that the few contributions we are going to make is going to make a difference.”
He, however, explained to the State Coordinators that the push for inclusion in politics is beyond a democratic ideal, saying it is about capacity and the value the movement has brought to the table. According to him, it is about reclaiming the state to provide better dividends of democracy, jobs and quality health care for people. “It is important that we push the envelope to use political power to provide the right things”, he said.
In his words, “remain resilient because this country is breaking before our eyes,” the Convener, Samson Itodo, reminded everyone at the close of the meeting. “We are going to be taking bold steps. 2020 is the commencement of another decade”. Additionally, he firmly reminded the State Coordinators about the philosophy of the movement, saying “We have to come to a place where we tell ourselves that this struggle is not about us. And our driving philosophy is simple: that the goal for civic activism is the common good. “
The Strategy Team members also reiterated the need to remain politically vigilant as the movement moves to the next phase. According to Cynthia Mbamalu, Programs Manager of YIAGA AFRICA, “today our survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to remain vigilant to face the challenges of change”. “Only when we are awake and ready to act, can we really see the kind of change we want. Nigeria is still looking up to us. Nigeria can be better,” she said.
The State Coordinators shared their experiences and reflections on various related themes, which included leadership and governance, internal communication management, conflict and risk management, Not Too Young to Run campaign and advocacy tactics, stakeholder engagements, media and communications, inclusion and diversity management. The team revealed their thoughts on how the movement can leverage on existing capacities and relationships to further increase the number of young people in elective offices ahead of the 2023 elections.
All participants of the meeting also shared personal reflections on the Not Too Young to Run Movement, in an emotional session, while the Strategy Team Members consolidated on the results of the meeting into an action plan. At the end of the meeting, the participants were given their certificates of participation, as well as ‘Digital: The New Code of Wealth’ written by J.J. Omojuwa, who detailed parts of the Social Media Strategy of the #NotTooYoungToRun movement when it kicked off online about two years ago.
Also present at the meeting were some of the Strategy Team Members of the Not Too Young To Run Movement—Cynthia Mbamalu, Ibrahim Faruk, Chioma Ageuegbo, and Safiya Bichi. They shared their insights respectively, on charting a course for the future of the movement.
Check out more pictures from the event below.