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19 Oct
0

2019 Elections and Fate of Anti-Corruption War By Michael E. Agada

“In the grand scheme of things, our votes in every election cycle and particularly in 2019 will be one of the most proactive measures; we as citizens must take in this anti-corruption war and in the survival of our Nation.”

As the campaign around the 2019 general election builds up, it is expected that campaigners will fiercely debate on issues of corruption in Nigeria and the possible strategies they’ll employ to tackle it. Opposition candidates will provide best of comparative strategies in comparison with the incumbent government – and even cite examples of lopsidedness, witch hunt, nepotism, etc. on the part of the incumbent administration. Also, the incumbent government will lay bare progress analysis of their anti-corruption “gains” and how this helped to minimize monumental losses. Conversations on how the incumbent ostensibly embarked on the prudent economic management of Nigeria’s limited resources, alongside increased the country’s foreign reserves –despite a downturn in revenues – as compared to previous administrations. Emphasis on landmark court rulings secured in the life of the current administration will not be left out – they may even praise themselves for securing such rulings and in the same breathe lambast the judiciary for “arm-twisting” unfavourable rulings and its supposed inadequacies in fighting corruption. The “indictment” of the National Assembly on its alleged role in frustrating the anti-corruption war will not be spared.  From both side of the divide, many of these issues, as it relates to the anti-corruption war will be the highlight of the 2019 elections.

With a league of gap-truth politicians unleashed on the electorates,  the 2019 election contest will see opposition candidates and political parties brand imaginations as manifestoes, as the incumbents’ package mediocrity as excellence. The language of fairness will be replaced with flares of calumny: This will be one of the fiercest campaigns on corruption this county has ever seen. One thing to note is that all these campaign shenanigans will not be the substance, as they’re mere distractions. In the final analysis, the pedigree of the group and individuals concerned will be of utmost importance.

There will be so many strange campaign promises and slogans, but a campaign that focuses on the genuine desire to tackle and defeat the menace of corruption will not be one of them. Political aspirants/candidates riding on the back of the anti-corruption movement is as old as the country’s independence. It’s nothing new… It is one of the oldest campaign lines not just peculiar to politicians, but to military juntas as well – as corruption more often than not solely accounted for their reasons for taking over power. So expectedly, this will be a wave of a perceived renewed vigour in fighting corruption that will be more imaginary than actual. As much as there’d be genuine campaigns and strategies on tackling the issue of corruption head-on, there’ll also be campaigns of illusions and deceit. It will be a wave of distractions and of propaganda, reeling out nonexistent strategies to defeat corruption when they attain power or when they are (re)elected into office. The difference will be based on the individual or group concerned.

The reality of the difference for the next four years will be on election days in 2019. If we get it wrong at the point of electing new leaders, we’ll be expending so much energy and resources when the government is sworn in, and in many ways, this afterthought approach has contributed to the bane of Nigeria’s development since independence. We tend to react to issues rather than to be proactive. In the grand scheme of things, our votes in every election cycle and particularly in 2019 will be one of the most proactive measures; we as citizens must take in this anti-corruption war and in the survival of our Nation. What this means in simple terms is that, in our vote lies the power to prevent the next generation of treasury looters from gaining access to the national purse, in our vote lies the power to cut short the aspirations of serial human right abusers, and as a matter of fact, we can with our votes prevent silly persons from attaining political power. We must take responsibility, because, looking at our elections retrospectively, it is safe to assume that a greater percentage of the electorates do not properly understand the power of their votes, because if we did, there will be few occurrences of votes buying, or the facilitation of stomach infrastructure initiatives on polling days, and violent schemes of ballot box snatching, as the electorates will unite and rise against these ills. This is the gap that desperate politicians have explored over the years and have unduly perpetuated themselves in power as lords of an empire, and they go a step further by ruling like autocrats and oligarchs because they know that the gaps still exist to explore and be exploited – to the disadvantage of the country at large. This needs to change.

The fate of the Nation’s anti-corruption war will greatly depend on the antecedents of the candidates and party set-up, and not necessarily in their promises: In their records of service – whether in private or public capacity. Some fundamental questions electorates must ponder on are; “how did these candidates fare in positions of authority, either in the private or public led sectors? What is the extent and nature of their wealth: are they traceable or miraculously amassed? There is a high chance that they will be driven by the same philosophies that have guided their dignity/criminality as they lead in a position of authority. Make no mistake, change is not automatic, and the idea that their stewardship will not matter as they’d probably be changed individuals is deluded. Why this is more important is that the success and failure of the anti-corruption war aren’t usually decided when a government is sworn into power, it will not even entirely be decided by the policies of the government in power, it’ll rather be greatly decided on the day of the election. So as electorates troop to their various polling units to cast their vote, it will not only be a vote cast for the candidates/parties of their choice, it will be a vote cast in favour or against their future; the survival of the anti-corruption war and the country at large, as this will greatly hang on the shoulders of the individuals they pitch their tent with on election day. Such is the significance of this singular moment that it calls for deeper reflection of the choices we must undertake to either make or mar our destiny as a Nation. The profoundness of this in our national life is greatly captured in the words of a great thinker and proponent of human liberation, Frantz Fanon as he succinctly puts it when he stated that ‘‘Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it.’’

This generation cannot afford to continue to make similar mistakes of the past. Many of the challenges we have faced as citizens, and the precarious position that the country finds itself today is a direct consequence of our electoral decisions over the years.

At the forefront of the anti-corruption campaign, as youths, as electorates and citizens, the fate of the anti-corruption war lies greatly with us – as the choices, we’ll make in 2019 will either position us to betray or fulfil destiny. We must rise above hate and the euphoria that comes with these political moments and be constantly reminded that our great country’s destiny will be – as it relates to the anti-corruption war (whose success is sacrosanct to the advancement of our nation) – greatly dependent of the choices we’ll make come Election Day in 2019.

Michael Agada is a Program Assistant for Accountability and Justice with YIAGA Africa. He’s an undaunted believer in Democracy good governance and an advocate of youth participation in governance process. He tweets from @MichaelAgada on twitter. 

 

 

 

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18 Oct
0

Political Parties as the Bane of Youth Candidacy – Linda Chiahoake

It is becoming a sour taste as the new voices and energy ushered in through the signing and passing in of the Not Too Young to Run bill gradually fades into extinct. The bill which had cause uproar of excitement across Nigeria especially among the youths can now be said to be an unattainable reality. Many Nigerian youths have over the inception of the bill indicated interest for different offices come 2019 with the help of the bill which serves as a tale of faith, hope and a chance for transformation. The bill since inception becomes a well-defined setting and a realistic backbone for youth inclusion. Unfortunately, months after the Not Too Young to Run bill was signed into law, the hope and young aspirants enthusiasm to run for different positions come 2019 seems to have reduced to a large.

This may not be unconnected to the fact that political parties are adamant in maintaining outrageous nomination fees irrespective of awareness created by the Not Too Young To Run Movement. The Movement in collaboration with other Civil Society Organisations and volunteers, carried out several advocacies which included a National Day of Action across the federation with the aim of ensuring Youth candidacy and reduced cost of party nomination forms along with democratic primaries.   The movement advocated for equal level-playing field for all aspirants during party primaries to ensure a transparent process.

Unfortunately, the alarming amount at which the forms were sold made sure many young aspirants had to reconsider their stand, some had recoiled back into their shell while others have decided to withdraw and come back in 2023. However, some young aspirants were determined to pursue their quest even with the high cost of obtaining a nomination form. Some also have termed Nigeria to be a country where only the rich have the power to rule.

Data from the Ready To Run movement showed that most of the young aspirants losing interest in running for various offices are those who are unable to meet up with the purchase of the party forms within the stipulated time of purchase. With the Not Too Young To Run campaign and advocacy, one will expect the cost of party forms will be made relatively affordable considering young aspirants who may not have attain that level of affluence like older aspirants. This high cost in party forms goes a long way to question the obvious, that is, if the interest of the youths were captured while passing the bill or if it was just a mere stunt for publicity and part of political campaign.

According to Sam Namo a young aspirant vying for the office of senate has frowned at the high cost of party form. Another young aspirant has suggested that the’ Not Too Young to Run’ be change to ‘Not Too Poor to Run’. As funny as this suggestion may look, it is a perfect picture that clearly shows the frustrations and predicaments of young aspirants whose dream for a better Nigeria gradually fades to thin air.

As usual, the typical Nigeria campaign circle revolves around the elites and the older generation, while youth inclusiveness which is the panacea for transformation of Nigeria from its status to a more purposeful Nation gradually becomes an unobtainable possibility. With all these, one will raise a quizzical brow as to when will the interest of youth be captured in a country that is bent on maintaining a vintage and orthodox methodology and system.

Linda Chiahaoke is a Youth Corp Member serving at YIAGA AFRICA

 

 

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18 Oct
0

Plateau State LGA Election : A template for Nigeria’s Fragile Democracy – Gabriel Gutap

There is a strong belief that democracy is for the good of the masses and is popularly defined as a ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’. However, the gross misconduct, manipulations and undemocratic nature of some politicians and their political parties often gives an impression that the will of the people doesn’t matter when pitted against the personal interest of the politicians. This causes a loss of confidence in the system on the part of the citizens.

The recently concluded Plateau State Local Government election has become the latest template to describe a flawed electoral process as independent observers who keenly observed the process raised serious concerns about the credibility of the process. Right from the pre-election phase, observer group, called Plateau State Coalition on Electoral Reforms and Good Governance (PLASCER) complained about the poor engagement of stakeholders before the election, thereby limiting the information about the process in the public domain and ultimately resulting in poor voter information and education.

Report also has it that parties that contested in the Plateau State Local Government Elections Also, were passive in engaging the electoral process before the election. These factors set the stage for public distrust in the process from the onset and put the integrity of Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC)

Doubts in the process began to creep in when on the Election Day (10th October 2018), there was a notable delay in the arrival of PLASIEC polling agents and materials in some parts of Langtang North, Langtang South, Qua’anpan, Shendam, Pankshin and other LGAs. This was followed by reports of malpractices such as use of ballot papers which had already been thumb printed, ballot box snatching, multiple voting, incidences of fake result sheets, and cases of underage voting in most LGAs. One of the most disturbing occurrences was the absconding of Returning Officers (ROs) in some Local Governments, and in the case of Mikang Local Government, Election Officials (EOs) and Retuning Officer (RO) disappeared at some point during the collation of results. Similarly, in Bassa and Bokkos LGA’s, the Retuning Officers absconded before the final collation of results, but winners were announced at the PLASIEC State Headquarters and hurriedly sworn in by the Governor. In Lantang North and Mangu, results came in but were not collated at the Local Government level and the elections in those Local Governments were declared inconclusive for no justifiable reason.

The election process was largely marred by irregularities and gross misconduct that were showcased in the open. The electorate frowned at the process and protested en-masse. As tensions were raised, violence erupted in Mikang and Qua’anpan LGA’s where youth attempted to burn the PLASIEC offices. In Bassa LGA, Hon. Sarah Balis’s house was set a blazed (the woman who emerged as the winner of the election).

This farce of an election raises the question about the fate of democracy in Nigeria, where the will of the people is not respected, no legitimate government can emerge. This must be corrected before the 2019 General Election for the unity and progress of the country.

 

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18 Oct
0

LEGALITY OF INEC DECISION TO BAR THE ALL PROGRESSIVE CONGRESS (APC) FROM FIELDING CANDIDATES IN THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTION IN ZAMFARA STATE

On October 9th, 2018, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in an official communication, declared the All Progressives Congress (APC) ineligible to field candidates for all elective positions in Zamfara State in the 2019 general elections. This was on the basis of the party’s failure to meet the October 7 2018 deadline for conducting primaries to elect candidates for the 2019 General Elections as stipulated in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for 2019 General Elections released by INEC in January 2018.

As contained in the Timetable, political parties were mandated to conduct primaries to nominate candidates for various elective positions in the 2019  General Elections between August 18th and  October 7th 2018. By virtue of Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), political parties seeking to nominate candidates for any election must hold primaries (direct or indirect primaries) to nominate candidates. Even where there is only one aspirant in a political party for an elective position, a political party is still mandated by section 87(6) of the Electoral Act to convene a special convention or congress to ratify the aspirant’s
nomination. Consequently, complying with the deadline to hold primaries as stipulated in the Timetable is a mandatory step for every political party seeking to participate in the 2019 General election.

Download the Full detailed discussion paper the Constitutional Power of INEC and its legality to bar political parties from fielding candidates for elections

Legality of INEC Decision to Decline List of Party Candidates

 

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18 Oct
0

WatchingTheVote Report on the Observation of Party Primaries for 2019 Elections

YIAGA AFRICA, is a civic non-governmental organization promoting democracy, governance and development in Africa through advocacy, research and capacity building. Our mission is to build democratic societies anchored on the principles of inclusion, justice, transparency and accountability. Our thematic areas of work include Elections; Legislative Engagement; Youth and Accountability & Justice. YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote is Nigeria’s largest citizens-led electoral integrity movement dedicated to the promotion of credible elections, civic participation and democratic accountability. YIAGA AFRICA has been involved in election observation since 2007 and it is one of the leading organizations working on elections in Nigeria.

Download Full Report of YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote Party Primaries Observation Below

Watching The Vote Report on Party Primaries for 2019 Elections 

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17 Oct
0

 Plateau LGA Election As an Indication of Increasing Citizen Awareness – Plangret Dabup

By Plangret Dabup

The road to the 2019 General Elections in Nigeria has been a very interesting and rigorous one. Compared to 2015, there has been more awareness and citizen participation in all the electoral process. Information concerning the political primary elections has been circulated in the public and there has been massive response, both positive and negative.

According to Watching The Vote’s Statement on the conduct of political primaries the process was characterized by bold flaunting of electoral laws and party procedures in some of the political parties. There was also a lot of foul play and lack of uniformity in the nominations, thereby excluding women and young persons in the process. The statement by the organization couldn’t have come at a better time.  This is because while the Press Conference was going on, there was a brewing fracas in Plateau state over the conduct of the Local Government elections which held on the 10th of October, 2018.

One will recall that in the last month, there has been an onslaught of sectarian crisis in the state and hence, the state government had announced that elections would not be held in Jos North, Jos South, Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Governments. It is pertinent to state at this point that the Governor had dissolved the Local Government Councils in the 17 Local Governments in August 2015.

However, an observer group called Plateau State Coalition on Electoral Reforms and Good Governance (PLASCER) in its report made certain observations about the Election Day procedures highlighted a series of electoral malpractices, the most disturbing being those that occurred at the counting and accounting stage in some Local Governments. The Electoral Commissioners left for the state collation center without counting the votes that came in from the various wards. Subsequently, the elections in those Local Governments were declared inconclusive.  Furthermore, other Local Governments, the results came in from the wards but the polling officials were met with empty collation centers. Hence, the ballot papers, results sheets and other sensitive materials were left unattended to as there were no electoral staff present.

While the citizens were getting agitated over these developments, the Plateau State Electoral Commissioner Mr Fabian Ntung, announced the results for the election. The outcry that followed showed that the citizens are concerned about the electoral process and importantly credibility of the process.  As more citizens, particularly young people begin to position themselves in the political spaces in the country, there is a need to elevate the conversation beyond protests and violence.

First of all, young aspirants and party members should keep abreast with the amendments that are being made to the Electoral Act and the Constitution as it concerns elections in Nigeria. One landmark amendment that was recently made is the Presidential assent of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 Alteration (No 21) Act, 2017. This amendment expands the powers of election tribunals to hear pre-election matters, namely the non-adherence to the laws and guidelines by political parties and INEC in the conduct of party primaries and the non-adherence of INEC to the law on issues of rejecting aspirants.  This has opened up the gates of justice to aspirants who have been marginalized or unduly excluded from election processes at the preliminary stages.

Furthermore, there is a need for legislative engagement by the citizens to ensure that the laws regulating Local Government elections are improved to guarantee a freer and fairer process. The current laws give the State Independent Electoral Commissions the power to conduct Local Government elections independently (while INEC reserves the right to conduct Local Government elections in the FCT). However, in practice, these bodies do not operate independently which is a concern that has been raised with the structure of the Independent National Electoral Commission. Furthermore, the law is not all encompassing as per the election petitions arising from Local Government elections. This has led to undemocratic precedents in many of the states.

Similarly, the foremost Citizen movement on credible election data, YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote recommends the need for citizens to peruse conversations about what the aspirants are coming to offer. More so, citizens need to hold the other stakeholders in the election accountable regarding their roles in the pre-election phases. This includes trends of voter suppression, collusion between actors and other malpractices. Most notably is the conduct of the security officials during the Osun rerun election as well as the issues over the tearing of result sheets by an electoral official during the main election.

How can these wrongs be addressed before the General Election in 2019? Do our laws sufficiently provide consequences for such actions? These are some of the issues that should be dominating political and governance discuss, particularly in the grassroots where there is increased citizen awareness.

 

Plangret Dabup is a Zonal Program Officer with YIAGA Africa

 

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17 Oct
0

UniAbuja, University of Ibadan top YIAGA AFRICA’s University Youth Affirmative Action Debate

After a grueling intellectual contest at the Youth Affirmative Action Debate Competition Grand Finale, both University of Abuja and University of Ibadan could not be separated as both came joint winners of the debate. The grand Finale which was held in Abuja on Tuesday, 16th October saw Students of six Tertiary Institutions across all geopolitical zones in Abuja take up the stage to debate on issues relating to youth participation and good governance for national development.

The two universities emerged winners after beating strong competition from counterparts representing other geo-political zones.  The Six (6) tertiary institutions from the six 6 geopolitical zones in Nigeria emerge winners at the zonal level participated in the Grand Finale of the debate competition. The other schools who contested in the grand finale include, University of Maiduguri, University of Calabar, Kaduna State University and Michael Opara University of Agriculture, Umudike.

Youth Affirmative Action Debate

Speaking during the Grand Finale, YIAGA AFRICA’s Program Manager said the debate gives young people the opportunity to amplify their voices on their right to political participation and building positive political culture and attitude. According to Cynthia, ensuring youth participation goes beyond just talking to acting to actually to get young people in government.

“We look at how we can engage young people because we have been accused of being unserious; of lacking focus and wanting to be handed leadership on a platter of gold. “So, to change this stereotype, our attitude has to change; we have to ask ourselves how do we start engaging the process? We have a lot at stake.”

Mbamalu said that the group decided to take a decision on what youths could do for national development ahead of 2019 so that young people could be well represented in public offices.

YIAGA AFRICA Programs Manager Cynthia Mbamalu speaking during the Grand Finale of the Youth affirmative action debate

She said that young people needed to set an agenda for the government through informed knowledge of all the country and all sectors, adding that it was the essence of the debate.

YIAGA AFRICA Board member, Ezenwa Nwagwu expressed his excitement that YIAGA AFRICA is creating a forum where young people who can be positive with issues, especially as the nation move toward a more difficult and trying period democracy.

He who said the debate is an opportunity for youths to lend their voices to democracy because military rule can give us schools, roads and even free education but there is only one thing it can’t give us, that is freedom.

The Youth Affirmative Action Debate Competition is an activity under the Promoting Inclusive Governance for Development project of YIAGA AFRICA implemented with support from the Ford Foundation.

The debate competition is designed to stimulate public discourse on youth affirmative action and gives young people the opportunity to amplify their voices on the right of young people to political participation and building positive political culture and attitude.

Similarly, Mr Ibrahim Farouk, the Senior Programmes Officer, YIAGA AFRICA said that the youth affirmative action debate was initiated to empower youths in the knowledge of politics and also create an avenue to air their opinions on the matter.

Farouk said that the debates elevated the discourse within the university communities, especially as political parties selected candidates for the 2019 general elections.

He said that with these debate competitions, young men and women showed that debates remained as a viable platform for discourse on policy issues and provide an avenue to promote inclusiveness and garner the opinion of the young students.

He said that the debate was an activity under the Promoting Inclusive Governance for Development project of YIAGA AFRICA implemented with support from Ford Foundation.

 

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17 Oct
0

YIAGA AFRICA, INEC, EU Take Campus Outreach to Yola as M.I, Waje, Banky W, Uti, Korede Bello Light Up Event

The YouthVotesCount Campus Outreach came alive once again, this time at Modibbo Adama University of Technology (MAUTECH), Yola as Jude “MI”, Banky W, Waje, Korede Bello and Uti Nwachukwu turned up to engage the students on how to enhance youth participation in the electoral process.

With so much excitement, gusto and enthusiasm, students trooped into the Multi-Purpose Hall of MAUTECH as they leveraged on the opportunity to engage high Electoral Commissioners and Celebrities on issues relating to challenges and prospects of Youth Participation in the electoral Process.

Waje speaking during the Campus Outreach in Yola

This is the fifth in the series of Campus Outreach Program organized in Collaboration with the  Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), European Centre of Electoral Support and support from the European Union in Nigeria. Having hosted the Campus Outreach in the University of Abuja, University of Lagos, Bayero University Kano and University of Port Harcourt, the campus outreach in Yola also provided opportunity to reach out to more young people especially students on the values of participating in the electoral process.

 

Banky W speaking during the Campus Outreach in Modibbo Adama University Yola

The Chairman of INEC Prof Mahmud Yakubu represented by National Commissioner for South-West Prince Adedeji Solomon reminded Nigerians that it was just 128 days to the general elections with 91 registered parties out of which 89 conducted their primaries.

Speaking during the event, European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen said democracy is only strong as the participation of the citizens and the youth constitute 60 percent of the citizens while urging young people to participate in the electoral process. According to Ambassador Karlsen, participating in the electoral process is about good education, security, employment and other amenities saying a lot is at stake. He further urged the students to collect their Permanent Voters Card, engage in intellectual debates about the electoral process and vote on election day.

Also, INEC head of Voter Education and Publicity Barrister Osaze Uzzi decried the fact that, despite High percentage of young people in the Voters Register, policies doesn’t reflect aspirations of young people. He then reiterated that social media engagement is good but the best way to participate is by registering, collecting your Permanent Voters Card and voting on election day. According to Barrister Uzzi, INEC do not count retweets and likes as Democracy is all about Participation and the way to participate is to vote.

Students Volunteer at the Youth Votes Count Campus Outreach Yola

All the celebrities took their turn to share experience and lessons on why youth participation in the electoral process has become pertinent. Banky W who spoke passionate about enhancing youth participation in the electoral process said that votes are beginning to count and that is why politicians do everything possible to buy votes from the electorates. While discouraging Nigerians from selling votes, the award winning Banky W said, the oldest trick used by politicians is to deceive you that your votes won’t count, so they can buy the low voters that turnout.

Similarly, Uti Nwachukwu warned that if young people don’t act towards security their future, our children will complain to us the way we complained to our parents while MI Abaga warned against Godfatherism saying, the situation of governance currently shows godfatherism has failed thus young people have to define their own realities by getting involved in the process.

The lady in the team, Waje also ensured that young women committed themselves to participating in the electoral process. Speaking enthusiastically to the loud cheering of female students in the hall, said women must seat where decisions that concern them are being discussed because women are what makes this nation great.

Students also registered and volunteered to educate their peers to get involved in the electoral process

 

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15 Oct
0

STATEMENT BY THE NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN MOVEMENT ON THE CONDUCT OF PARTY PRIMARIES AND YOUTH CANDIDACY

Ladies and gentlemen of the press,

The conduct of primary elections to select candidates for various positions to be contested in the February 16 and March 2 2019 General Elections by political parties was held in line with the Election Timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 elections. As required by the timetable Political Parties were to conclude with their primaries by the 7th of October 2018 and commence the onward submission of the list of candidates to INEC. This process kick starts the real contest for elective office in the general elections as the conduct of primaries remain the only process recognized by law for the selection of candidates by the Political Parties.

The role of political parties in our electoral democracy cannot be overemphasized as they constitutionally remain the only platform for the emergence of leaders into elective offices to form a government in Nigeria. As a movement committed to the defense of democracy and promotion of youth political inclusion, the Not Too Young To Run movement closely followed the conduct of the primaries to assess the role of the political parties in promoting youth candidacy and the performance of young aspirants during the primaries.

For the movement, the signing of the Age Reduction Bill into Law by the President in may 2018 was not only historic but the beginning of a new wave of youth political participation as witnessed for the first time in our history since transition to democracy a positive trend of young men and young women aspiring to run for office and younger candidates taken up responsibilities to challenge the status quo. This gave birth to the Ready To Run campaign and for us remains a major win that has ignited a new spirit of patriotism amongst Nigerian youth ready to run for office and contribute to National Development. However, the success of the Not Too Young to Run can be further advanced by the political parties taking intentional steps to ensure that the primaries are democratic, free, fair and transparent in such a way that every aspirant especially young people have a fair chance of emerging as a candidate and having access to the ballot.

OUR OBSERVATIONS

#NotTooYoungToRun working with the Ready To Run young aspirants remained in close communication with the young aspirants to provide support as they run for office and document their experiences as young aspirants. This provided the movement with more insight into the conduct of party primaries. Notably, the conduct of political party primary is regulated by a legal framework which includes the; Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Electoral Act 2010 (as amended in 2015), INEC Guideline for the Conduct of Party Primaries, Party Constitution and Party Guideline Regulating the Conduct of Primaries. While the Electoral Act provides for parties to adopt either a direct or indirect method of primaries, cross-cutting principles across the legal framework on Party Primary include the need for primaries to be democratic, open, transparent and inclusive. These principles were however put in jeopardy by the conduct of some Political Parties during their primary election as observed by the Not Too Young To Run movement. The movement observed the following:

  • High Cost of Nomination: The movement observed with disappointment the high cost of Nominations fees imposed by most of the political parties with the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) taking the lead as the parties with the most exorbitant fees required from aspirants for their nomination to contest the primary election. This remains worrisome as the supposed party in government and the major opposition party regardless of the advocacy and engagement by the movement for the parties to promote youth candidacy closed their political space by imposing fees that invariably excluded young people and women. It is important to note that the high cost of nomination was not limited to the APC and PDP as we saw other parties follow suit with some difference in their party cost without due consideration to nomination fees that are reasonable and justifiable within our economic context.
  • Undemocratic Primaries: Party primaries are supposed to be a model for democratic elections in Nigeria influencing elections in such a way that the demand for credible and transparent elections will be driven by the political parties. The trend of undemocratic primaries is therefore worrisome as more parties brazenly flaunt the Guidelines on the conduct of primaries designed to ensure transparency and fairness. Some of these include:
    1. Imposition and Substitution of Candidates: the decision by some party leaders to impose candidates on the party, exclude other aspirants from contesting or substituting candidates who successfully won the primary election is beyond undemocratic but a grave injustice to electorates whose choice for leaders will be limited to individuals who fraudulently emerge as the party candidates. Reports from the young aspirants indicates that a young aspirant in APC in Bauchi State after winning majority of votes during the primaries was substituted with another aspirant who had a lesser share of the votes cast.
    2. Manipulating the process of the conduct of primaries: as observed some of the political party’s primaries at the State level were hijacked by the party leadership to ensure that popular aspirants were rigged out of the primaries especially for young female aspirants. This was done by either disrupting the conducting the primaries where an aspirant was seen to be winning votes or denying the delegates or changing list of delegates to put an aspirant at a disadvantage. This was an experience of female aspirant running under the PDP in Kaduna whose aspiration to represent her constituency was unjustly cut short by the party leaders by manipulating the delegates list and suppressing delegates who supported her aspiration.

 

  • Exclusion of Young women and Young men: as experienced by some of the young aspirants, parties were directly and indirectly restricting the participation of young women and young men. This was done in two major ways:

 

  1. Refusing young aspirants party nomination and omission of names of aspirants after due purchase of nomination forms: by either refusing to give the party ticket to contest the primaries even when they were willing to pay all nomination charges and purchase the party tickets. It is rather worrisome that some of the parties still operate state structures where the party leadership, some few money bags or some Governors take undemocratic decision regardless of the wishes of the party members. Some of the young aspirants were told with no regard to democratic principles that they could not purchase the party tickets because there was already an anointed candidate or preferred choice of candidate. We have more reports of this incidence from young aspirants who intended to run under the APC in Kano, Ogun and Zamfara States, aspirants under the PDP in Kano State and FCT-Abuja, and another who intended to run under the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State.
  2. Unjust Screening of Aspirants: the process of screening is important for the conduct of primaries to ensure that only aspirants who satisfy the party requirement contest in the election. However, such screening process must ensure equal treatment of all aspirants, fairness and transparency in such a way that no aspirant will be unjustly screened out. This was hoverer not the case in some parties. For instance, one of the young aspirants was screened out by the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) on a supposed claim of the party he is young and have not contested the election before.

 

  • Money Politics: The movement observed with dismay the blatant inducement of delegates and party members with money by some of the candidates during the primaries to manipulate the process and influence the votes. This is a worrisome trend as it poses major threat the development of our electoral democracy and undoubtedly worked a disadvantage to credible and competent youth and women who contested the primaries.

 

OUR DEMANDS

The movement hereby demands as follows:

  • That the Political Party Appeal structures should ensure that the grievances of young aspirants during the primaries are as a matter of urgency heard and addressed immediately to ensure justice;
  • That Political Parties support youth candidates to ensure that they emerge victorious in the election;
  • That the Courts treat as urgent, pre-election matters and expediently hears and give their decision on pre-election cases before the court.
  • That the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) makes public the report from the monitoring of the party primaries clearly highlighting the votes of each aspirant from the primaries;
  • That young men and women candidates who successfully emerged from the primaries remain vigilant to ensure that they are not substituted at the point of transmission of candidates lists to INEC;
  • That voters should be guided by their conscience and do not vote for parties that do not represent youth interest;
  • That voters remain objective in voting for young women and young men with character, competence and capacity regardless of their party affiliation.

 

Any attempt to further substitute names of young candidates who have secured their party nomination will attract political consequences.

We celebrate the young men and women who have secured their nomination to run for various offices across the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT. The Movement will continually celebrate and support youth candidates across all parties who have secured their party nomination.

The Not Too Young To Run Movement reaffirms its identity as a non-partisan, citizen-led movement dedicated to the defense of democracy, political inclusion and transformative leadership. THE MOVEMENT WILL NOT ENDORSE ANY CANDIDATE OR POLITICAL PARTY FOR ANY REASON.

 

Signed

Not Too Young To Run Movement

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15 Oct
0

Party Primaries and Matters Arising ahead of 2019 Elections- Idris Mohammed

 Recently, the All Progressive Congress (APC) and People Democratic Party (PDP) along with other political parties conducted their primary elections as required by the electoral law and constitution of Nigeria which provides that political parties can conduct primary election or adopt consensus candidate that will compete. The essence of primary election is to give party members/delegates the opportunity to have their say in the process, test the popularity of the aspirants and to present a candidate to the citizens.

Meanwhile, political parties in the just concluded primary elections adopted one of either direct or indirect method of selecting a candidate. The APC for example used the direct method were registered card-carrying members of the party elect candidates to fly the flag of the party at various positions during elections. All registered members are expected to be allowed to vote in the primary election to elect the party’s representative in the general elections. The indirect primaries which was adopted by the PDP empowers group of voters called delegates to elect party representatives at various levels of elections. While both methods have its advantages and disadvantages, both parties largely abused the guidelines of the process even as both methods were combined in certain quarters to suit certain interest.

Despite the 10-page rules and regulation produced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to guide the conduct of primary elections in Nigeria, politicians and their political parties are always in the game of manipulating or violating guidelines. Observation reports from YIAGA AFRICA shows that majority of delegates were less interested in the quality and competency of their candidates, as the process became highly monetized. As a matter of fact, it was reported that delegates openly revealed that they are more interested in knowing the amount to be received than the quality of aspirants. Unfortunately, this trend of monetization of votes cuts across a handful of political parties.

At the moment, there are political upheavals in some states as a result of irregularities in the party primaries.  Zamfara for example is a typical example where perceived has led to the ongoing impasse between the APC and INEC. Also, in Kano and Imo state, where the godfathers alleged appointed their son in-laws to be the candidates as Kaduna state continue to endure the tussle between the Governor and the Senator, with the first lady Aisha Buhari complaining of impunity in Adamawa, while Delta and Oyo states amongst others continue to swim in murky political waters. Automatic tickets and poor internal democracy amongst issues relating to exclusion of youth and women may also be the reason behind the political crisis in majority of the states.

It is shocking that money continue to play major role in the eyes of the delegates than the integrity and quality of the candidate. Media reports alleged that money in foreign currencies was shared in the venue of PDP primary election as the primaries may have been determined by the highest bidder. This will send wrong signal to the forth-coming general elections in 2019.

To make it worse, our political atmosphere is not favourable to young people especially women with the high cost of nomination forms demanded by political parties. This meant most of the young people were seen in the venues of the primaries as either party delegates, mobilisers or  ad-hoc staff but not the aspirants. This leaves youth under the umbrella of unpopular political platforms, even though some people are of the opinion that popular candidates can contest in any party platforms but Nigerians are more interested in the party than the candidates.

Delegates should take issue-based politics rather than money in electing the candidates as this will produce competitive and competent leaders with vision and principles that will steer this country out of the present situation to the more promising and progressive atmosphere. It is now left for the Nigerians to vote wisely and vote the candidates with integrity that will take this country to the Promised Land.

Idris Mohammed is a zonal Program Officer with YIAGA Africa wrote from Abuja.

He tweet @idpyar

Mail: idrismpyar@gmail.com

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