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 situation was in part due to the 1999 Constitution which placed minimum age limits for those wishing to 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 circumstances of the 2019 general elections scheduled for February 16, 2019, for Presidential and National Assembly and March 2, 2019, for the Gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly polls, are however significantly different, thanks to the passage of the Not Too Young To Run bill into law in 2018. The campaign to lower the constitutional age limit to increase the involvement of the youth, defined as Nigerians in the age bracket of 18–35 years in the electoral process, was spearheaded by YIAGA AFRICA and the Not Too Young To Run Movement. The coming into effect of the age reduction legislation has witnessed the emergence of a new wave of competent and credible young women and men, who are aspiring to run for political offices in 2019, with a fresh agenda that is committed to providing innovative, transformative and responsive leadership in the public domain. Young people’s right to run for
public office cannot be overemphasised because it deepens and sustains democracy. Considering that regular elections are an indispensable feature of modern democracy, creating awareness on the importance of youth candidacy in elections, has become more relevant and urgent especially owing to Nigeria’s youthful population.