10 Jan

2019 Elections: YIAGA AFRICA Commences Election Radio Show

Ahead of the 2019 General elections, YIAGA AFRICA through its Watching The Vote (WTV) project on Wednesday, a radio program to engage Nigerians on the need to participate actively in the electoral process. The Radio program tagged “Watching The Vote half hour” was flagged off on Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in Abuja and aired on other FRCN stations across Nigeria.

Speaking during maiden edition of the program, Project Director Cynthia Mbamalu said the program became necessary because citizens should participate in the electoral process from an informed position and thus information about the electoral process should be disseminated to the public accordingly. She further said, the project is out to provide timely information on both the pre-election environment and the election day activities in order to counter misinformation and rumours.

According to Mbamalu, Watching the Vote is the largest citizen movement committed to credible elections in Nigeria and they are committed ensuring that Nigerian’s votes count. She said, “We are deploying the largest number of observers for the 2019 general elections. For us, it is more than just watching the electoral process, it’s about ensuring that our observation will help reduce violence. That way we can build early systems against electoral violence.”

Electoral violence has historically been a major factor hindering valid statistics during elections in Nigeria. It is also a factor that causes widespread apathy among citizens. “For example, when observers signal an electoral threat across the nation, our Long Term Observers across Nigeria will report and we will be escalate it to necessary authorities in other to nip it in the bud,” she explains.

During the 30 minutes show, Mbamalu highlighted that the Watching The Vote team will deploy 3034 Polling Unit Observers for the 2019 Presidential elections while also deploying 822 roving observers to report critical incidents. Polling Unit observers according to her will report election day activities like arrival and set-up, accreditation and voting, sorting, counting and announcement of result. This according to her will be reported to a special database and will enable Watching The Vote verify the accuracy of results announced by electoral commission.

She also highlighted the advanced methodology that will be used for sample polling units to be observed on election day is called the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT).

“The PVT uses statistics and draws a sample of polling units which determines which polling unit observers will observe from on election day. The beauty of the PVT is that we cover every local government area. So for the elections, all those areas will be covered; we are not just going to focus on the cities,” she said.

“While we remain a non-partisan organisation we partner with all election stakeholders in a bid to disseminate information and recommendation and we look forward to providing a platform for Nigerians to engage other stakeholders in the electoral process,” she concluded. 

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07 Jan

Ready To Run: YIAGA AFRICA launches TV show to promote young candidates

The Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) in partnership with NotTooYoungToRun movement, Channels Television and PREMIUM TIMES have launched a television program designed to support youth candidates seeking elective offices in the 2019 general elections.

The TV show, supported by the European Union, tagged ‘Ready To Run’ will henceforth be aired on Channels Television every Sunday between 6:15pm – 7:00pm.

It is designed to address the challenge of limited access to the media or low media coverage by young candidates.

The 45 minutes show provides a unique opportunity for youth candidates to showcase their competence, capacity and commitment to excellent public leadership.

Every week, youth candidates aspiring for various political offices will engage voters on their manifestos and agenda.

On its first episode, the show had four segments which the host, Samson Itodo highlighted as ready to run lab, get out the vote, ready to run lounge and meet the youth.

The ready to run lab is focused on equipping candidates with skills and tactics for running effective electoral campaigns.

It focused mainly on the process of substitution of candidates, educating them on the various processes.

The get out the vote segment featured informative, credible and up-to-date voter education messages produced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and civil society groups.

Another segment of the program featured two candidates running for House of Representatives: Rinsola Abiola and Najibullah Tafida.

While Ms. Abiola is seeking to represent Abeokuta North/Odeda/Obafemi Owode federal constituency in Ogun state under the platform of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Tafida is the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for Argungu/Auguie federal constituency of Kebbi State.

Other candidates, who were not on the live program were also profiled at a different segment.

All candidates invited to the show will be made to sign a pledge of transparency and accountability, organisers say.

The live programme also served as an avenue to solicit for campaign funds on behalf of the candidates.

Source: Premium Times

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03 Jan


Abuja, Nigeria — YIAGA AFRICA and its partners are pleased to announce the launch of Nigeria’s first-ever independent television program designed to provide strategic media support and visibility to youth (women and men) candidates seeking elective offices in the 2019 general elections. The show tagged Ready To Run will be aired on Channels Television every Sunday between 6:15pm – 7:00pm. The show starts airing on Sunday, January 6, 2019.

Most youth candidates running in the 2019 elections are faced with the challenge of limited access to the media or low media coverage. This is further exacerbated by the high cost of engaging media during electoral campaign. The TV show is designed to address this challenge by providing a unique opportunity for youth candidates to showcase their competence, capacity and commitment to excellent public leadership. Every week, youth candidates running for legislative and executive positions will be featured to engage voters on their manifestos and agenda. An upsurge in public demand for qualitative and accountable public leadership is expected through the show hence the integration of a public engagement segment with youth candidates through tweets, Facebook posts and SMS based interactive platform.

To complement existing capacity building initiatives for youth candidates, Ready To Run TV show will feature an exciting political organizing lab to equip candidates with skills and tactics for running effective electoral campaigns. In line with the objective of increasing the turnout of voters in the forthcoming elections, the Get Out The Vote segment will feature informative, credible and up-to-date voter education messages produced by the Independent National Electoral Commission and civil society groups.

The Ready To Run TV show is a joint partnership between YIAGA AFRICA, #NotTooYoungToRun movement, Channels Television, Premium Times and supported by the European Union.


Samson Itodo

Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA

Media contact: Ruth Olurounbi,, +2348116954637

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28 Dec

LEADERSHIP Outstanding Young Person of the Year 2018: Samson Itodo

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.

Source: Leadership

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19 Dec

Nigerian Political Parties: a democratic Thalidomide- Victoria Manya

In the time of nationalist like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, there was some level of guarantee that in the political decision-making processes, a large percentage of the country characterized by various ethnic groups were put into consideration and as such the belief in one Nigeria grew like wild fire. With this belief, the struggle for independence garnered nationwide support irrespective of religious and political lines. After this time however, the one Nigeria Ideology began to regress and then came the transition (supposed democratization period as the political scientist choose to call it). This process ushered in the political party system while democracy and party politics continued what has now become a seemingly inseparable or Siamese relationship. This has however streamlined the possibility of running independently as the constitution and its various amendments have seen to it that political parties remain the sole platform under which persons vying for political positions can run.

Democracy as a system of government in Nigeria has been shaped by a plethora of political parties, either based on the party ideology or the opinions of the political “god fathers” that stand as the backbones of these parties. To this end however, there has been some level  of political organization in terms of pulling together of candidates with like minds (bonding agent function), organizing uniform political campaigns and rallies, working together as a strong unit to perform the watch-dog duties expected of political parties, however insignificant I must add. These advantages do not in any way connote an absolute political perfection, it rather gives room for more political questions than answers.

In analyzing the never ending political questions stimulated by party politics, we must mention the recent clamour for political independence viz independent candidacy and how it was shut down by the national and state houses of assembly as though it never existed and the manner in which the entire country accepted its moribund fate as if to say it was the right thing to do. In the true sense of the meaning of the word, “democracy” the interpretation given to the phrase “ through political representatives” has been rigidly interpreted by political elites and propagators of the political party system to mean that representatives must contest under the platform of political parties and this has brought upon us apolitical avalanche that guarantees the grip and continuous existence and renewing relevance of political king makers. It has ushered in an era where in the following disadvantages lay thriving; uneven representation of some groups across ethnic and religious lines, the termination of the political dreams of young aspirants with ideas that are capable of informing the “change” we currently seek, unjust substitution of young candidates with “the anointed elderly youths” and an unfair tide of a fast growing tsunami of the dreaded “one party system”. Now political parties have contributed the largest quota in the politically prophesied failing status of our democratic state by sealing the fate of the young but” imaginary” leaders of tomorrow,while constantly churning out unseasoned representatives .

The unfortunate implications of the above analysis is that we strongly believe in the salvation brought by political parties and this presents a fatal situation were political parties act as the Alpha and Omega of the future of Nigeria and indulge in the famous game of thrones as we see currently playing out. Nigerians believe what we have been fed by politicians that we cannot have a revolution that will work for us and for our future and so we suffer and smile as these are the twin companions we have come to rely on for succor.

In conclusion, I am positive that the majority of those who come across this article are familiar with the drug ‘thalidomide” an immuno-modulatory drug that was used in the 1950’s to treat morning sickness and as a mild sleeping pill safe even for pregnant women. However it caused thousands of babies worldwide to be born with malformed limbs. The effect of this drug as much as it has been considered  as one of the darkest episodes in pharmaceutical research history is currently used as a treatment for certain cancers and leprosy even in pregnant women but with the attendant fate of birthing a malformed baby. However, with current studies and better understanding of the mechanisms of the drug, important and life changing discoveries are being made on the molecular targets of the drug and so safer drugs may be designed from it.

Moving away from pharmacology, it is apposite to re-open the seemingly closed pages of the proposal to introduce independent candidacies with positive limitations as we must for the benefit of our democracy in Nigeria. I do not by this article suggest the introduction of another limited political feature but an improved party system and an avenue to accommodate independent candidates that meet a certain requirement. 

Victoria is the  Human Resource Manager of YIAGA AFRICA and  passionate about Sustainable democracy


Twitter : @missgidas_

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19 Dec

Is the Integrity of Nigeria’s 2019 Elections Under THREAT?


As part of her commitment to the promotion of electoral integrity in the Nigerian 2019 general elections, YIAGA AFRICA has been conducting pre-election observation in the 774 Local Government Areas of Nigeria. The pre-election observation entails the deployment of 822 Watching The Vote citizens observers in each of the 774 LGAs to monitor pre-election activities, assess the political and security context and provide accurate and verifiable reports based on their observation. The observers are equipped with a checklist to record relevant information and provide verifiable findings. 774 of the observers report bi-weekly on a standard set of questions at the local government level, while 48 observers are mobile within a state and report critical incidents only. Unlike the WTV election-day observation methodology; the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT), which relies on sample-based observation, YIAGA AFRICA WTV PREO uses a more traditional approach in its pre-election observation. YIAGA AFRICA, therefore,encourages users of this report to independently corroborate and respond appropriately to trends identified in this report.

YIAGAAFRICA released its report on the first reporting phase on December 6, 2018.This report is the second of six reports to be issued by the organization covering the period of 23rd November to 6th December 2018, and it is based on reports received from all 774 Long-Term Observers (LTOs) across the country.


The WTV second PREO report reveals a positive trend in the level of preparations for the elections when compared with the findings of the first reporting period. The systematic collection of data indicated an increase in the level of preparations by INEC for the elections. The North West region has the highest incidence of preparatory activities by INEC while the North central region recorded the lowest. Also, the WTV LTOs witnessed/heard of an increase in the collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs). The North Central geopolitical zone recorded the highest collection rate while the North East witnessed the least rate of PVC collection. In addition, WTV LTOs also witnessed increased attempts to undermine the integrity of the elections through actions that amount to electoral malfeasance. This was accentuated by the heightened incidence of buying of PVCs, vandalism and hate speech.  WTV specifically found that;

  1. Campaigns are dominated by two major parties: Political parties have intensified their campaigns for votes in the coming elections.This is visible in the frequency of party rallies, posting of posters and fliers, party meetings ongoing in all LGAs. Based on reports from WTV LTOs the two major parties namely All Progressive Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (APC) have dominated the campaign scene across the federation. The South-West region recorded the lowest rate of campaigns by political parties. The PDP recorded 65% while the APC 63% in the level of electoral campaigns nationwide.
  • Clientelistic politics on the rise: Political campaigns have been signposted by voter inducement through distribution of money and gift items. Based on reports from WTV LTOs, voter inducement increased in the second phase of the pre-election observation. There was an incidence of voter inducement in at least one LGA in each of the 36 states and the FCT. WTV LTOs witnessed the cases of voter inducement in 15% of LGAs, a marginal increase of 3% from the 12% reported in the first reporting period.
  • Early warning signs of violence remain apparent: The early warning signs of violence have remained apparent as the political temperature in some states rise. WTV observers witnessed incidence of vandalism and destruction of properties belonging to candidates or political parties. The North west region has the highest record of pre-election violence. In 18% of LGAs, WTV Observers witnessed or heard of hate speech, violence or intimidation of candidates or people because they are women. Hate speech against people or candidate because of their faith was reported in 13% of LGAs. Similarly, in 22%of LGAs, there was hate speech against people or candidate because of their age and hate speech violence or intimidation of people as a result of their disability was reported in 6% of LGAs.
  • Purchase of Permanent Voter Card (PVCs): WTV LTOs reported incidence of illegal procurement of PVCs from voters is 15 states namely; Benue, Kogi, Nassarawa, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi,Edo, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Niger, Imo, Rivers, Oyo and Yobe States. WTV observers directly witnessed the buying of PVCs in 1% of LGAs and in 16% of LGAs, the observers heard of this illegal act. The report indicates the PVC are bought for as high as N10, 000 and N20,000 in some States. This portends great danger for the credibility of the 2019 elections if unaddressed. 
  • Threat to Women Political Participation: WTV observers reported in the second reporting period same trend of physical violence towards women during political party campaign rallies like it was observed in the first reporting period. This incident was directly observed in 1% of the LGAs during the first reporting period, the same percentage was also reported during the second reporting period. Incidents of physical attacks against women during political party campaign rallies were directly witnessed by LTOs in Benue,Kogi, Borno, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, Imo and Oyo States.
  • Marginal Increase in Voter Education: the findings show that voter education activities are being conducted by INEC, National Orientation Agency (NOA) and CSOs. However, while there is a marginal increase in voter education conducted by the NOA in the second reporting period by 4%,there is a decrease in the activity conducted by INEC and CSOs in the same period.


Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

  1. Whilst there has been an increase in the distribution of PVCs in the second reporting period,INEC should intensify efforts to ensure PVCs are readily available for collection by voters that registered between the months of March and August 2018.
  2. INEC should intensify its voter education activities across the country. It is important for the electoral commission to conduct voter outreach activities targeted at marginalized groups as the 2019 general election approaches.
  3. Voter education messages should be embedded with content that discourage vote buying and selling; and promote issue-based electoral participation. INEC should also strengthen its collaboration with the National Orientation agency and civil society groups in achieving this goal.
  4. INEC should take extra measures to safeguard the voter accreditation process for the 2019 general elections due to the prevalence of reports on illegal procurement of PVCs.  In addition, INEC should consider limiting the discretionary powers of polling officials deployed for the 2019 elections by strengthening its layers of supervision and oversight.
  5. INEC and Police should investigate the reports of the purchase of Permanent Voter Cards (PVC)from voters and make public its report.

Political Parties

  • Political parties should uphold the principles of democracy and accountability in their campaigns. For the purposes of national interest, political parties and candidates should refrain from acts that undermine the integrity of the 2019 elections.
  • Candidates and their supporters should demonstrate a high degree of tolerance towards women.Creating safe spaces for women in politics is critical for democracy development successful elections.
  • Parties and candidates should refrain from propagating hate speeches and provocative statements that threaten public peace. Elections can only take place in an atmosphere of peace.

Security Agencies

  1. Security agencies should be proactive in curbing incidence of violence and intimidation of candidates, women and voters
  2. Security agencies should thoroughly investigate apparent cases of electoral offences and prosecute defaulters or culprits irrespective of party affiliation, geographical or religious extraction.

YIAGA AFRICA encourages candidates, media houses and citizens to refrain from acts of violence and from using incendiary language and to maintain a respectful and healthy campaign environment. YIAGA AFRICA also recommends that the security forces should remain vigilant in the protection of personal property, as politically motivated destruction of property can be a trigger for election-related violence. In addition, YIAGA AFRICA calls on the security agencies to remain neutral in their operations and maintain a proactive response system to any form of conflict or violence that may erupt.


Samson Itodo

Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA

For media inquiries please contact:

Moshood Isah, Communication Officer, YIAGA AFRICA

Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339 Email:

Learn more about #WatchingTheVote at or on social media on Facebook at or on Twitter @YIAGA

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19 Dec

YIAGA AFRICA Congratulates Samson Itodo on his Young Person of the Year Award

On Sunday the 17th of December 2018, Samson Itodo, Executive Director at YIAGA AFRICA Executive Director, emerged the Young Person of the Year at The Future Awards, 2018. Samson Itodo was nominated alongside David ‘Davido’ Adeleke, Tomi Adeyemi, Nemitaru Ajienkaand Dr. Mahmoud Maina for this most coveted award category endowed this year by Amstel Malta. This award is coming few days after Samson was honored as a rising democracy leader by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) during its  35th Anniversary Gala in Washington D.C.

The award is in recognition of Mr .Itodo’s efforts as Convener of the Not Too Young To Run Movement which successfully advocated for the reduction in age requirements for political candidacy in Nigeria, culminating in the Bill’s eventual assent by President Muhammadu Buhari. The efforts of the movement have been acclaimed as one of the most successful movements globally in recent times.

The award also recognized the immense contributions YIAGA AFRICA have made under his leadership over the past eleven years towards building movements and enhancing sustainable democracy and development on the continent. With a focus on the credibility of elections in Nigeria, YIAGA AFRICA engages in pre and post-election observation, and the deployment of observers via its Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology. PVT collects and analyses real-time data during elections to ensure credibility of the process. PVT has so far been deployed for gubernatorial elections in Ondo,Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states.

The Future Awards Africa, now inits 13th year, are a set of awards given by The Future Project (TFP), a social enterprise set up with a strong, practical commitment to Human and Capital development especially in Africa. The awards, described by Forbes as most important awards for outstanding young Africans, celebrate young people who have made outstanding achievements in the year under consideration.

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18 Dec

Samson Itodo Emerges The Future Awards Africa 2018 Young Person Of The Year

Samson Itodo, Executive Director of YIAGA AFRICA and Convener of the ‘Not-Too-Young-To-Run bill, emerged The Young Person of the Year at the 13th edition of The Future Awards Africa held yesterday, 16 December, 2018 at the Balmoral Convention Centre, Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos.

The ground-breaking bill, which was finally signed in 2018, sought to advance youth participation in Nigerian politics, challenging post-Independence laws that preclude citizens under the age of 30 from participating in Federal, State and Local Government election.

Samson Itodo took the top prize in a category made up of several inspiring Nigerians including author, Tomi Adeyemi; artiste, David ‘Davido’ Adeleke; academic, Nemitari Ajienka, and scientist, Dr. Mahmoud Maina.

Receiving his award, Itodo emphasized the importance of active youth participation in the electoral process especially the upcoming elections in 2019. He advised young Nigerians to leverage on the opportunities provided by the Not-Too-Young-To-Run bill to get involved and create real impact in their communities.

“The 2019 elections are very important, because we cannot create true change in Nigeria without electing leaders who intend to develop the country. So when we go out next year, I beg you to look around you and search for true leadership – those who actually have the integrity and intention to lead. It’s all in our hands,” he said after receiving his award.

Other personalities who witnessed the event include Ibukun Awosika, Biodun Shobanjo, Chairman, Rotimi Amaechi, Kingsley Moghalu, Obiageli Ezekwesili, Jumoke Adenowo, Omotola Jolade-Ekeinde, Salawa Abeni and many more

Source: Guardian

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17 Dec

‘Convergence’ of 400 youths to ‘kick out’ older politicians

As part of the fall out of the signing of the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ bill into law, about 400 young candidates of various registered political parties converged in Abuja for a three-day international conference aimed at empowering them to win votes and make positive impact ahead of the 2019 general elections. The bill, passed by the National Assembly last year and signed by President Muhammadu Buhari this year, reduced the age qualification for president from 40 to 30; governor from 35 to 30; senator from 35 to 30; House of Reps from 30 to 25, and State House of Assembly from 30 to 25.

The event, tagged ‘Convergence: Power, Capacity, Politics’ was organised by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA Africa), the Not Too Young To Run movement, and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UKAID).

Different speakers including young lawmakers from Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya among other countries, leaders with inspiring stories, and other guests. One guest excitedly told Daily Trust Saturday that at the end of ‘Convergence’, there is hope that younger, more effective politicians will be better-equipped to kick out the older ones. “Their time is up,” she said.

Speaking at the opening, the convener of the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ movement, Mr. Samson Itodo, said the conference is a unique platform for young candidates to build their competence, network, share experiences and advocate for greater representation and credible 2019 elections. “Convergence promises to inspire and empower them with the kind of skill sets they need to navigate this hostile political environment in Nigeria,” he said.

Also, YIAGA-Africa Programs Manager, Cynthia Mbamalu, said the event was not organised because it was fashionable to converge but because the youths and organizers decided that Nigeria must work.

A member of the House of Reps, Tony Nwulu, who sponsored the ‘Not Too Young Run Bill’, said one of the issues dominating national discourse recently is the need for a generational power shift to youth in Nigeria in 2019 and beyond. He also told participants that they do not need money to win in the 2019 elections. “You need people, resolve and connections to win,” he said.

Head of DFID in Nigeria, Debbie Palmer, bemoaned the misrepresentation of youths in the Nigerian political space, and she told the candidates to not only think about getting elected but to have a solid plan. “If you don’t win this time, you will run again. This is a learning process for you, learn your craft. If you not successful, become a volunteer and join advocacy campaigns. I hope for some of you, this will become a profession for you. And you have to remember that women, children and disabled people matter,” she said.

Member of Parliament representing Kwabre East Constituency in Ashanti Region of Ghana, Mrs. Francesca Oteng Mensah, stressed the need for proper branding for candidates running for elective positions. According to her, there are difficulties young and female candidates face in politics, hence the need for young people to do proper research before going into the polls and to know electoral laws well.

Mensah, who was 22 years when she ran for office in 2016, said she is not only the youngest amongst the 275 lawmakers in the 7th parliament of Ghana, she also became the lawmaker who had the highest number of votes in both parliamentary and presidential election in the country.

Popular Nigerian musician, Olubankole Wellington, also known as ‘Banky W’, running for the House of Reps in Eti-Osa Federal constituency, Lagos State, under the Modern Democratic Party (MDP), shared a story on how he rose to fame in music and how he built a successful music label.

The PDP candidate for Lagos West Senatorial District, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, said a lot people misconstrue politicking with governance and politics. “Some people run to become popular, to form alliances, to get connected while some people run to win. People that run to win need to understand politicking. Do research just like a football coach on how he will serve better in the position he is gunning for,” he said.

Ms Zainab Sulaiman Umar, a former SUG vice president of Bayero University, Kano, said she was the first woman, and youngest candidate to run for state house of assembly under her constituency in Kano State. She said being a young politician was a challenge, but a privilege.

Also, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) for Pankshin-South Constituency of Plateau State, Chikas Kumle, argued for the inclusion of more women in politics. “Women understand issues of welfare more than men. Women understand how painful it is for a family to have needs and not be able to meet them. Women should be given a chance to contribute their quota.”

A candidate in the 2016 Kenyan Parliamentary elections, Boniface Mwandi, who is also a renowned Kenyan activist and founder of 234 PAWA, another crowdfunding platform, said he did not have money when he contested. He said as much as money is important, there is a need for candidates to build a network of reliable people and make people believe in them enough to give them money. “The mistake young people make is trying to play the system that the godfathers set up. To change this, you need to break that system,” he said.

Source: Daily Trust

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17 Dec

#ReadyToRun 2019: Story of Young Aspirants illegally Alienated by Political Parties

YIAGA AFRICA’s Media and Communications Assistant, Fisayo Okare, writes on the challenges faced by Young People during Party Primaries and how some were illegally sidelined by Political Parties


Abdulhalim Abdulahi Liman

Party: APC

Position: House of Representatives, Giza Gabazawa Federal Constituency

State: Kaduna

30 year-old Abdulhalim Abdulahi Liman spent over 30 million naira steadily navigating the precarious nature of the political landscape in Kano state. But he will lose to a fellow aspirant who spent 10 million naira less to checkmate his strategy through conspiracy.

In a country where community men, elders and elected representatives have long managed transfers of power according to their own self-interest, what happened to Abdulhalim on the day of his state’s primary elections is of great significance. Abdulhalim was one of five people running for the House of Representatives to represent Giza Gabazawa Federal Constituency. His competitive advantage rested on the fact that he was the only contender from his local government; the four other candidates were competing from the same local government. “If you check, you will see that I have an advantage”, the defeated candidate proudly attests. “I had the advantage going forward that everyone from my local government will vote for me.”

Abdulhalim grew up in a family where his dad was “pretty big on trying to assist people”; this has inspired his humanitarian endeavors, which is now inextricably intertwined with his political ambition. He trod on his dad’s path and soon, family, friends and community men began to say, “Look, if you are done with your studies, come. The structure is there, it is the grassroots, all you have to do is assist people and people will see it. Nobody is helping you, what better way to help than if you are in office”, he recalls to YIAGA. Abdulhalim decided to run for House of Representatives with the ruling party, APC, where he worked with old political warhorses, avoided critics and experienced the marginalization of young aspirants in the political landscape.

Like other aspirants for his position, Abdulhalim paid the required N3.85 million for nomination and expression of interest to the APC. Additionally, the state party chairman refused to recognize any aspirant who did not pay N350, 000 to the state, and aspirants needed to pay N30,000 to each of the two LGA Chairmen in the constituency. Abdulhalim’s mentors advised him to give gifts, bags of rice and sugar, to secure the votes of elders, statesmen and other stakeholders in the lead up to the primary election.

“It was all about delegates,” Abdulhalim says, recounting how indirect primary elections made it necessary to pay delegates. Aspirants had to pay delegates to attend political events, in addition to their transport. Delegates also approached Abdulhalim for cash and gifts after Ramadan: “In my constituency, there are 11 wards for each local government, so that is 22 wards. And each ward has 27 delegates, so if you do the maths, that is around 600 delegates. What we did that time; I gave out 250 bags of rice in my local government. And in the other local government, I gave around 150. So all in all, I gave out about 400 bags of rice.”

At 4:30 am on the day of the primaries for House of Representatives in Kano state, all aspirants headed to the house of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. “Normally the governor will try to come up with a consensus candidate because most of the time, [when] primaries hold, there [are] a lot of grievances; some people might even decamp”, Abdulhalim narrates.  But this time, Governor Ganduje did not pick a consensus candidate. He told them to proceed with the primaries.

Abdulhalim and his team waited at the stipulated venue from those early hours of the morning until 5:00pm. In that time there was no sign of a primary election. According to Abdulhalim there was “nobody, no INEC official, no security, no party agents…nothing”.

Nonetheless, the party later announced a winner for the position, one of the aspirants, whose name Abdulhalim declines to state. It is alleged that this aspirant gave N20 Million directly to party elders to be declared the winner. “Everyone knows there was no primaries, but what was going around was that he paid N20 million. So that was what happened basically”.

Abdulhalim’s story reveals many things about the challenges youth aspirants face in party primaries. It shows the enormous expense associated with running for office, far beyond the N3.85 million required for purchasing the form. Abdul estimates he has paid over N30 million in contesting the primary. This is an alarming amount and raises concern that a successful candidate who spends so much to get into office will seek to make it back with interest once elected.

The expectation that the state governor would pick a consensus candidate before primaries is also revealing. While it is understandable that parties would try to avoid decamping, the APC’s constitution and the 2010 Electoral Act mandate primary elections. The fact that interference by governors to preempt primary elections is so common is worrying. Finally the allegation that Abdulhadeem’s opponent bought his declaration as winner is a serious one, and shows how opaque primaries open the door to political corruption. A person who owes his candidacy to such a dubious process will not represent the constituency well.


Amina Iliyasu

Party: APC

Position: House of Representatives, Ankamafara Federal Constituency

State: Zamfara


A general acceptance of power rotation amongst a selected few made it impossible for Amina Iliyasu to compete in the primary elections. The odds were already stacked against her even before she purchased the All Progressives Congress (APC) party nomination form to represent Ankamafara constituency, Zamfara state, in the House of Representatives.

Amina had publicly expressed her interest to run for political office, but her party ceremoniously terminated her aspiration at a gathering she was invited to by her local government chairman. She explains that this was thinly disguised political party propaganda. The event graced the presence of aspirants, party people, stakeholders, elders of the local government, and commissioners. “It was such a big gathering”, she says, but to her dismay, they read out a list of pre-selected candidates, who were already “anointed by the governor of Zamfara state” to run for the office—to the exclusion of her name. This was when she “was told to stop,” Amina says.

The driving force behind Amina’s aspiration for office was the youths from the constituency who prevailed on her to run. “They requested that I ran,” she narrates, “Initially, it was a bit difficult for me to accept but I did because I believe they saw something good in me and they believed in me that I could do it”. Amina consulted with political heads, who gave her the go ahead to run. Some of these individuals would later be present when she was ordered not to run for office.

In Amina’s view, the Governor’s decree to oppose her candidature was as a result of the “fair sharing” that takes place in her state. “The fair sharing we are talking about is not in the constitution. It is just something they decided to do, to make it a bit friendly and acceptable so that one local government will not feel let out”, she says. The governor and other statesmen propagated the necessary condition of alternating the seats in the House of Senate and House of Representatives between two local governments. “So if a Senator is coming from one local government, they allow the Reps to come from the other local government,” she says. In Amina’s case, she hails from the same local government with the serving Governor who decreed that she must not run because of his own political ambition to aspire for the House of Senate. Although Amina was contesting for the House of Representatives, the Governor was contesting for House of Senate from the same local government. Hence, the House of Representatives was routed to the other local government, as it was the generally accepted custom in Zamfara state. Amina was thus, pressured to step down for the candidate for House of Representatives from the other local government to come on board.

Prominent politicians already drew a line that the seat was entitled to another person, and that if she made any attempt to seek for the office, she would be checkmated. However, Amina was not defeated…yet. After being refused the seat of the House of Representatives, she had dreams to run for the House of Assembly. Reality proved otherwise. “But shockingly, they told me that that same person that has been there for 8 years, has been selected to go for another term —that is the third term. So at the end of the day, there was nothing for me and I was told to‘Yi ha kori’ as usual; ‘Be patient’,” she says.

Ahead of the primary election, other political parties offered Amina a deal to run under the umbrella of their party, but she was disinclined to abandon APC. As she states, “this is the first time I am aspiring. So I didn’t want such a situation that I will be jumping from one party to another, because the truth of the matter is I love APC. Even [if] I go to another party, I know I might end up coming back to APC. I have been one of those people who criticized people that jumped from other parties to another, so I didn’t want to do that.”

Amina further looked beyond the actions of self-seeking politicians, to explore the possibility of other socio-political configurations that worked against her. She found that gender and age are elements that played a part against her success. “There has never been a [female] politician from my state, there has never been female inclusion. [As regards age barrier,] I know few youths, who [are politicians]. Like the person in the State house of Assembly from my local government is a youth, but that is the only person I know. Gender really mattered because women are not given a chance in my state.”

Although Amina had to contend with this problematic political atmosphere, she explains that the most hurtful thing about her run was the substitution process. “What actually pains me again is that those people who were anointed never campaigned”, Amina unburdens. “They never showed any interest of running. They were just selected, just over night over us, that they were the anointed person”.

What the foregoing suggests clearly is that many Nigerian leaders and politicians almost always arrive their duty posts more by the geo-political consensus that defines the offices of their state and Machiavellian negotiations, than by the provision of the Nigerian constitution and electoral act on the conduct of Party primaries.



Atinuke Marie Leonard

Party: PDP

Position: State House of Assembly, Chikun Constituency

State: Kaduna


“My name is Atinuke Maria Leonard, I was an aspirant for state house of assembly, Kaduna state, Chikun constituency, and I ran under the platform of PDP,” Atinuke speaks for 10 seconds and the first thing you notice is her first-name. Immediately, anyone who is aware that ethnicity is a barrier and determining factor in the socio-political traditions of Nigeria, will ponder at how difficult it must have been for Atinuke, a westerner by virtue of her Nigerian State of Origin, to seek a political ticket in the northern state of Kaduna. As a young single woman, Atinuke had other forces working against her as well.

Expectedly, all these factors were challenges for Atinuke in her campaign experience. But since political equality was part of her agenda, she persisted. Atinuke is passionate to be a flag bearer for women, the girl child, youths and everyone born and bred in Kaduna state. Win or lose, she hoped to show that single women, youths and non-indigenes could run for office. “I wanted all that narrative to change,” she says, “because being a single person is no disadvantage, it doesn’t mean that you are not a complete person to aspire for things that people aspire for. For me it was a really peculiar case, I am not an indigene of Kaduna, I am from Kogi state but I was born in Kaduna state, I grew up in Kaduna and I lived all my life in Kaduna state—so I wanted people to be aware of that too, that you can actually contest. That way, I got to inspire a lot of people.”

Atinuke brought a consciousness to the hearts and minds of many, “Not winning [the ticket] was bad, but not bad enough, because the greatest passion I had was to make most

aware—the women most importantly because my passion is the girl—that they can actually aspire too.” Atinuke believes that the future is female inclusivity, but to her dismay, the women of Kaduna state failed her.

Speaking about what happened, Atinuke analyzes how women’s views and actions towards a young woman running for office showed signs of sexism. One women’s group supported her aspirations but refused to publicly endorse her even as they publicly venerated male politicians as candidates for office. “There was a time I was going for my declaration at my local government level, and I invited the women group to join me, so that when other people see that women are supporting themselves, they could be encouraged. But the women [group] leader sent a message to my campaign coordinator that they are not allowed to do that”, Atinuke narrates with disbelief as she recalls the incident. She ascribes the reason for what happened to the financial benefit the women get from being allies with the politicians. “Simply because they know I’m not going to give them as much money as the man would do, they would rather not want to have an alliance with you in the open,” she says.

Atinuke also explains that she expected so much support from the women especially because they verbally vouched for her each time she went to express her political interest and mandate to them. “The way they talk about men [saying] ‘they have been slaves to men, men have been doing this, and now a woman is coming, we are going to give you 100% support’, if you are not careful, you will just think, let’s do this and today you are going to win the seat”, she says. But in her words, this was “false hope”. “It was the same women that went behind me to tell people ‘ah that girl, she is a proud girl, she is not married. If we allow her to go, she will just go and be sleeping with all the men’; it was so bad.”

Ending the marginalization of women remains a core goal for Atinuke, who was stigmatized as an unmarried non-native and young woman running for political office. She believes that to reach an ideal level of equity in the political landscape, society as a whole must first identify with the woman as primarily, a human being, and women must learn to support women, “If we could actually support ourselves, I think we would get it done better”, she affirms.



Barr. Rabi Aamu Musa Manchi  

Party: APC

Position: State House of Assembly, Kafanchan

State: Kaduna


Rabi Aamu Musa Manchi has a very comprehensive understanding of all the elements that worked against her victory to be a member of the Kaduna state house of Assembly: gender, age and finances. She speaks about all three without floundering or over explaining, but providing a clear and complete picture of what happened. Her countenance is decisively relaxed; she is towering with a certain control of calm in the face of political unfairness that she lays bare. When asked if she sees herself running for future elections, she says firmly, “The game has just started”.

For this first ‘game’ that she has lost, Rabi briefly explains the circumstances surrounding her defeat. “Some of the stakeholders didn’t want me because they felt I was very young. They felt intimidated by my age, and of course the fact that I am a woman,” she expresses. Rabi outlines that the serving Governor of Kaduna state, El-rufai—who is bent on encouraging women in politics and youths generally, found her aspiration valid and supported her. Even with his endorsements, other stakeholders were firmly opposed. “They had a problem with the fact that if she eventually get the ticket, she will get to the House of Assembly;” Rabi explains, “they had a problem with the fact that a young person like me will represent them.”

Rabi’s third challenge was the money; female aspirants running for the State house of Assembly were demanded to pay N475, 000. “Being a young aspirant, you [are made to believe] politics is about money, so I had a lot to do based on logistics; I had to finance my movement and all that. At the end of the day we, the female aspirants, were asked to pay N475, 000—it wasn’t funny,” she presses.

After she lost her party’s primaries, she got offers from other political parties to join them. She declined. “As a young politician, you are trying to build a career. And when people see you jumping from one party to another, they just tag you as an unserious person, or even someone that is a desperado. So we are not desperate, I’ll still be in the party, I’ll work for the party to make sure we succeed in 2019”, she says of her decision to not re-strategize under another party’s banner.

At the start of her interview, Rabi introduces herself as “wife, mother, and politician, also an entrepreneur”—the ordering seems deliberate, showing what the phrase ‘family over everything’ means to her in respect to her career. She explains that her husband, family and a few of her friends remained a strong force, providing essential support for her to rely on all through her political straits. “As a young woman that I am, if not for the support of a husband and of course family, and very few friends, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve my dream of even aspiring to be in the state assembly.”

Although defeated, Rabi knows this is not the end., “as a matter of fact,” she says, “we are just starting. And so we would keep pushing, until we win. Eventually, in 2023 by God’s grace, we’ll see if we can contest again”.




Najimujeen Garba

Party: APC

Position: State House of Assembly, Dass Constituency
State: Bauchi


While some aspirants were defeated even before they could compete for the primaries, Naji mujeen Garba’s case was different. Garba was actually announced the winner of his election. Garba prevailed over 6 candidates to become number one. Two days after the announcement of the supposedly successful result, Garba and his team saw a report on social media that listed the names of all State House of Assembly candidates. Garba’s name, as well as that of six other candidates, had been substituted. This was only beginning of his confusion. And Garba—who is a former Special Assistant to the Governor of Bauchi state—is still confused about his missing name.

The first thing Garba did was to reach out to his party chairman over the phone, “I gave him a brief about [the substitution] and he said he doesn’t know anything about it. I became relaxed because as far as I am concerned, the Party is the only way I can get credible information about my status quo”. But Garba’s intentions to run for office seemed precarious, especially as rumours of his substitution spread throughout Facebook and Twitter. “I had been trying to calm my supporters, my people, to remain calm and to not be demoralized. But the thing is, as we continued going, a lot of things were happening,” he narrates.

For Garba, his substitution marked the latest event in a battle with stakeholders that began from the moment he had declared his aspirations. “There are a group of people called stakeholders; my age bracket is not in tally with theirs and I am not in their circle. [But] from day one, [when] I expressed my aspirations to contest, I knew that those people will not support me and they will make sure by all means, they stop me from winning.” Apparently, they did. According to Garba, “what they did—and they succeeded—was that they constituted a delegation to meet my governor because I am a former special assistant to him, and he encouraged me to participate—He encouraged me, and supported me—So they met him, tried to threaten him that if he allows my emergence, he will surely lose my constituency”.

What matters more than anyone’s conspiracy, though, is the platform Garba has simply been legitimately contesting for his election: his political party, APC. Regardless of what anyone had to say about him not winning the primaries, Garba strongly believed in the affairs and processes of his party. However, days after the report with substituted names emerged on social media, the unfathomable happened. There was a workshop for the state house in Gombe, Bauchi state and Garba’s political party “sent a comprehensive list of all their aspirants”. “Our name was not there, we were not invited. From there, I started becoming demoralised honestly,” he explains as he processes his thoughts. Garba adds that even when the Independent National Electoral Commission “(INEC) pasted a list in various local governments in INEC offices,” his “name was not there, and the names of the six other [candidates] were also substituted”.

This is rather puzzling. If Garba claims he won the political primary election, and all the bodies that have political administrative power and control have no documentation of Garba’s win on the list, there is no way Garba could continue to formalize his supposed success in the primaries to the public.

However, Garba has evidence to substantiate his affirmations that he won the election in his constituency. His team retained the audio of the announcement of results, which included Garba’s name and the other substituted candidates as winners. “They even published it [the list of successful candidates] on Daily Trust. I filled all the correspondent forms by INEC. All this happened, and later on all these stories came up about the issue of substitution. Till now, there has been no credible person or authority that has told us what happened and why it has happened.”

Garba spent a million naira to acquire a nomination form—“I spent like a million because we deposited N850, 000 through bank and we gave N100, 000 to the state party. And in the party secretariat too, we settled some.” He still has hope for the future, and he strongly believes that the government can do better to encourage young participants and set up rules to regulate expenses for political campaigns. “If the politicians believe that by putting [a large] amount will regulate the number of participants. On our own side, it is not in favour for us to participate,” he says. In his view, the cost of nomination forms is an attempt to keep young people from participating in the electoral process: “there are more competent youths that have not been able to. Not because they are not willing but because they are not financially [equipped] to partake in the process.”





Mary Frank

Party: PDP

Position: State House of Assembly, Numhan Local Government

State: Adamawa


Mary Frank explains that she lost her political primary elections on three bases: Misogynists, Unsupportive delegates and pretentious mentors. When she commenced the distribution of her flyer, people looked her in the eye and said, “We are not going to vote you because you are a woman.” Similar comments rained on her all through her political aspiration. “A guy asked, ‘Is she married?’ Mary Frank recalls. But in that moment, a passer-by who has clearly not been indoctrinated into the patriarchal system, spoke in support of her saying, ‘Is that one of the things that will make her?’. This kind of support was what Mary Frank needed from her mentors and the party’s delegates, but as she proceeded with her campaign and journey to political primaries, she did not find much of it.

In any competitive field, mentors offer an inexperienced person a rare opportunity for adequate immersion. When Mary Frank decided to run for Adamawa’s Numhan Constituency, she found it difficult to get reliable mentors. “I didn’t have someone saying ‘yes! I am stamping this lady to stand in for this’,” she explains, “I felt I was just alone. The part of mentorship was not really there. You meet them and they tell you that ‘yes, we are supporting you, but we cannot come out openly to support you’. It appears, the mentors alienated her as an ally and undermined her political interests and strengths.

Mary Frank did find “one or two” people to mentor her. “Mostly because I am female, I felt I should have had more elderly people who have been there before me to tell me what and what not to do,” she says, “[There are] a lot of women that [are] ahead of me, which I have met to discuss my ambition with. In most cases, they will tell you that ‘yes I am giving you 100%, support’ but afterwards, it’s like they have someone in their mind already”. Despite the weak support of the women she approached for advice, Mary Frank was not finished. She still had the intellectual capacity to energize a significant base of voters. Yet she would face other challenges.

As the only female contender for her constituency, her male opponents were intimidated and demanded that she quit. As she says, “another challenge which I had, [was] two guys—I am the only female—trying to bully me to say, ‘step down for me’, but I felt “I have what it takes to go into politics, and I have what it takes to rule my people’. With that in mind, even though at a point I felt discouraged, something inside of me said, just push through.”

The drama that unfolded on the morning of the election primaries had profound implications for Mary Frank’s chances of winning the elections. “At the course of the events, I found out that there are some people that someone somewhere really endorsed them and the person wanted the person to just go in for that office [against the run of play]. The whole thing just turned around for me,” she reveals.

While some candidates had godfathers plucking the weeds on their path for them, and who were very influential as an engine rocketing them nearer the gates of stratosphere, Mary Frank had no staunch person like this. All she had to rely on were educated voters and delegates. But even this was missing in the face of money. “At the end of the day—you know, they say the highest bidder takes it—we cannot do away with money issue. But if we could have educated people as delegates, I think that will help, because that is the major problem I faced,” she explains. Mary Frank expresses that she is intensely concerned about the issue of delegates: “These are the set of people that I think we have to seriously focus on.”

But there has always been a case to be made for hope. And the case was made, most powerfully, at our interview with her: “this is class one. Definitely I am going to go for class two”.



Olarinwaju Ojurinwaju

Party: ID

Position: House of Representatives, Ekiti South Federal Constituency

State: Ekiti


Olarinwaju Ojurinwaju knows what he wants and exactly how to get it. “I am not just going to run in the future elections,” he states confidently, “I am going to win”.  This is coming from a man that lost his political primaries for the 2019 elections for House of Representatives, not because he didn’t get the highest vote but because a political bigwig bargained for substitution with Olarinwaju’s political party. Olarinwaju speaks passionately; he had strategic policies to execute in his first term in office, and with a premeditated plan of action, he is coming for that politician that coerced his party to kick him out: “he’s losing out as it were. I’m very sorry for him”.

What exactly happened? The man who was substituted in his place lost out in a bigger party, during an election in FCT. He negotiated with the Independent Democrats (ID) in Ekiti state, taking Olarinwaju’s place as a consolation prize of sorts. “What he did was to re-negotiate with my party nationals,” says Olarinwaju, “and he won the bargain.” His eyes move ceaselessly about, squinting and flaring, his emotions betraying the intonation of his voice as he visualized what happened yet again. Then he laughs. What happened to Olarinwaju is common in Ekiti and around the country. “Whenever you lose out in a particular primary, what they do is to scout, they keep searching for wherever it is they can go to. In fact, we had two experiences during the Gubernatorial elections. A particular man won the primaries of a party. He travelled out for two weeks and before he came back, somebody else was already on the flag bearer of the party and it’s just so unfortunate,” Olarinwaju explains a puzzling situation that he is determined to fix, had he been rightly granted his victory in the primary election.

Olarinwaju ran to be a member of the House of Representatives for Ekiti South Federal Constituency 2. There were four aspirants for the position and he won with a margin of 70 votes. Everything was running smoothly until he received a call from his party chairman who told him something weighty had happened and they needed to meet. “I had 32 wards to work with,” he recalls, “so I was concentrating on that. I actually continued with what I was doing but I went back to the secretariat the next day. He informed me that the ‘Abuja people did something’. And I was wondering, what could the Abuja people have done that concerns me or affects me.” Olarinwaju avoids mentioning names here, but is clearly disappointed with the way events unfolded. He was told that he had been substituted and that his replacements name had already been sent to INEC. “I never knew I could be a victim of such but it’s dawning on me as it were now. I feel so terrible, because as a young man that has visions and dreams, there are things that I had in place. My terrain is actually difficult to conquer.”

Olarinwaju cannot recount the total amount he invested in his political ambition, but he remembers the up-front costs. “We had a bargain after the Guber elections,” he says, “that any candidate coming from Ekiti state, gunning for any position, the form will be free but there will be Expression of Interest. It turned out that the form, which is supposed to be free, we had to pay token around N100, 000. Then the Expression of Interest was N500, 000 flat.”

The most compelling thing about listening to Olarinwaju is hearing the specific visions he hopes to actualize once in office. “I had plans,” he says, “and they are highlighted in my manifesto. From education through health and a whole lot of action points, I was driving towards sponsoring a policy. Not one, just two. I discovered that those were the two areas I could focus on and get it sooner than later.”

He began, “there was this bill I was hoping to push: Too Rich to Suffer. “I also had another policy, which is Hang the Thief; it was a policy towards fighting corruption. I believe that to fight corruption, you have to create a system that chokes corruption, as against running after individuals. When you create a policy that fights corruption, it naturally chokes corruption. And there is no other way to go than to go the Chinese way: hang the thief, hang them!”

Olarinwaju’s determination as a campaigner is not to be underestimated. Well aware of the risks of political aspiration, he believes he is better prepared for the tricks of political manipulators when he runs in 2023. Now, he has acquired more followers that will be political allies with him in future. As he says, “in fact, people from other platforms, that were looking at me from afar, now became so close to me; they sympathized. I have been on it for the past five years. I have a program on-air in Ekiti over there, I have followers that follow me week-in week-out. So they know that I have committed to what I am doing. So it turning out the way it did, they were still there too.”



Sanusi Lawal Isehu

Party: APC

Position: State House of Assembly, Daura Local Government

State: Katsina

28 year-old Sanusi Lawal Isehu is a member of a youth forum of “almost 75 people” in Kastina state. All members of the forum sought to get involved in sate-politics, but only 25 had the means to purchase nomination forms and still finance credible political campaigns. Sanusi was among this 25.

He believes that reducing the cost of forms would attract more youths to the forum, allow more young political aspirants and lead to more youths victorious in primaries. In his primary election, Sanusi—“the only young contestant out of 10 aspirants from that same city [Daura local government]”—came third with “87 votes. Some of them got 12, some 10, and some even 3,” he narrates.

Although he did not emerge winner, Sanusi remains very appreciative of all the processes he went through. He expresses gratitude to the youths of his constituency and to YIAGA AFRICA and ‘Not Too Young to Run Movement’. He speaks highly of President Muhammadu Buhari, who signed the ‘Not Too Young To Run Act’ into law, reducing the age for running for the office of the President from 40 to 35 years, House of Representatives, from 30 to 25, and State House of Assembly, from 30 to 25. In his words, the ‘Not Too Young To Run Act’ was a spark for his political ambitions: “it made me courageous to be more involved in political participation”. However, he is not content to rest with that alone. He explains that he still wants more “youth involvement in our country so that our dream will come true”.

Long before Sanusi became a political candidate, his late father was elected chairman in his hometown, Daura. “He contested for the state house of assembly in 2003, he also contested for the State house of Assembly in 2011,” Sanusi says about his dad. Sanusi always knew he was going to go into politics as well, and now he is treading the exact path his dad journeyed before his death in 2012.“Honestly speaking my dad’s friends and colleagues, they helped a lot,” he says, “my family [also] played a good role to my aspirations. I went to them and explained that I will like for them to show me the way, or to donate something for me. They did.”

While his dad was a candidate under the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Sanusi chose to run for elections through the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a strategy to win the hearts of many in a local government where “80 or 90% of them there are in APC”. When asked if he plans to run again, Sanusi is resolute.  “The struggle has just started,” he says, “still I will continue.”





Umar Farouk Mohammed

Party: APC

Position: State House of Assembly, Alkaleri Local Government

State: Bauchi


“I didn’t lose the election,” says Umar Farouk Mohammed, “I won the election but very unfortunately, the governor snatched my mandate.” Umar begins his interview with very strong declarations that he is ready to defend anywhere, anytime. He has solid evidence to back it up; he appears to take this sheet of paper everywhere he can, to present a case of apparent injustice for examination and legal proceedings. He has met with political officers, chairmen, and several authorities including the President of Nigeria: “we have a forum that visited the President, and complained to him. I’m sure that if the president [can understand] what happened in the primaries, most especially in my state, I think APC can no longer exist after his tenure, maybe, in 2023.”

Umar continues to solicit ceaselessly for listening ears. He followed up by submitting a petition to the party’s national headquarters. “Up till now they haven’t contacted me,” he testifies. “They didn’t even call me. I have a copy of the petition here and the results.”

Umar holds his political party responsible for making “some changes” to the results. He contested through the leading political party, All Progressives Congress (APC) for the State Assembly seat of Alkaleri local government, Bauchi state. He explains, “The state APC changed five names [and] they submitted the names to INEC.” Holding up his very important paper sheets now, he comes bearing his hard facts to convey the level of injustice he experienced, “These are the names of the aspirants in that constituency. We are nine, and I got the highest votes of 4,551, the second one is 1,032 —that is the person that they substituted my name with his name—and the third one is 777.”

He tells us that everybody in his local government knows he won the election: “If you can go and ask them, they will tell you that I am the winner, and later on, the state chairman of the party substituted my name with somebody else’s.” Umar then veers into the incidents that led to his substitution on the list. He senses in his substitution the hand of Bauchi’s Governor, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar.

“The only problem is that I don’t know the governor,” he explains, “I don’t know his wife, I don’t know his relatives, and he doesn’t know me, that is why they just changed my name with the second one: Yusuf N. Bago.  That is the only problem. Not the issue of resources, capacity or anything. The issue is that the governor actually puts his voice in that position. So if you are not part of them, no matter the kind of votes you get, you can’t get the chance of being there.”

This type of god-fatherism is a serious challenge for young aspirants. Umar is 32 years old, while Yusuf N. Bago, his opponent who was substituted in his place, is “around 50”. It is safe to say there is no internal democracy in the Bauchi State APC. “They will just collect your money, and at the end of the day, they will just write what they want,” Umar expresses. “I spent a lot, I spent my hard earned money,” Umar says, recounting how he sponsored himself and at the end of the day, someone else appears to be reaping the fruits of his labour. The government attempted to pacify Umar’s emotions, by inviting him for a meeting of the candidates that lost the elections, “to compensate them”. But Umar, refused this attempt at compensation and cover-up. “I can’t go to the meeting because I didn’t lose the election,” he explains, “I won the election.”  



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