27 Mar

27-year Old Maryam Launshi Appointed National Publicity Secretary, Modern Political Party

Maryam Laushi, a communication specialist and youth activist, has emerged as the National Publicity Secretary of the Modern Democratic Party, the youth-focused platform intended to galvanise Nigerian youths into engaging in policy formulation, government accountability and running for political office.

As a pioneer member of the Not Too Young To Run leadership team, Maryam is also one of Nigeria’s recognisable voices in raising awareness for gender equality, social justice and youth inclusion in politics, while also excelling in advocacy for women, girl-child education and her principled activism about social issues.

Maryam also holds a Masters degree in Marketing Management from Coventry University, United Kingdom, including a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Marketing.

In 2017, she emerged as one of the awardees of the SME100 Nigeria’s 25 under 25 award for Active Citizenry.

She also voluteers for the non-profit Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), while also leading on other activities and dialogues that have attracted national attention. Maryam believes in a greater future for Nigeria, and the role of young citizens in playing critical roles for national development.

Source: Ynaija

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27 Mar

“Young people are not just the future of Nigeria. They are Nigeria today.” By Orji Sunday

Increasing youth representation in Nigeria’s closed political system will be an uphill battle, but Not Too Young To Run activists are ready to fight.
Near the heart of government in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, a defiant Chioma Agwuegbo thrusts her placard into the air. Her voice adds to the swelling chants coming from demonstrators all around her.

After a while, she wriggles to the front of the hundreds-strong crowd assembled near the National Assembly and Presidential Villa at Aso Rock. With her fellow protesters occasionally echoing her words and phrases in affirmation, Agwuegbo loudly articulates the young protesters’ demand that President Muhammadu Buhari sign a new youth bill into law.

“We have been on this journey for 18 months,” she declares to her fellow activists. “We got the National Assembly to say yes to this bill. We got 35 states to say yes to this bill. We are on the final stretch to get the assent of Mr. President. That’s the reason why we are gathered here today.”

The “Not Too Young To Run” bill she is referring to would reduce constitutional age limits for various elected positions. Minimum ages would be reduced from 40 to 30 for the presidency, from 35 to 30 for governors, and from 30 to 25 for members of the House of Representatives.

Momentum behind this act is coming from Not Too Young To Run activists. Led by advocacy group YIAGA, this movement has been gathering steam in calling for greater youth participation in Nigerian politics since 2016.

According to Agwuegbo, the group wants to correct young people’s huge under-representation in politics. Nearly 70% of Nigeria’s population of 180 million people are aged below 35, yet they are virtually nowhere to be seen in the corridors of power.

According to Chikodiri Nwangwu at University of Nigeria’s department of political science, there are many factors behind the lack of youth representation. Age limits are one small piece of a big puzzle.

He notes that young Nigerians are less likely to vote than their older counterparts and suggests that the youth may be more likely to engage politically through less mainstream avenues. He also adds that apathy – built up in response to decades of government corruption and failed leadership – may also be behind some young Nigerians’ self-perpetuating disillusionment and detachment from traditional politics.

“Over the years, the youths have lost hope in the entire electoral process,” he says. “When they vote, they know it will not be reflected in the system. They decide to stay away instead of making a contribution to a system that mocks their efforts.”

Where did Nigeria’s young people go?
This set of factors has led to a situation in which Nigerians under the age of 35 are largely absent from government. But this was not always the case.

In the colonial era, young Nigerians led in the struggle for independence. As early as 1944, Nmandi Azikiwe, still in his 30s, founded the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroun (NCNC). Meanwhile, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Belawa, Almadu Bello and Samuel Akintola, amongst many others in their 20s and 30s, rose to prominence through their activism.

After independence in 1960, however, this trend began to dissipate. The golden era was not replaced with new young leaders, and by the 1980s, there were only a few politicians under 40. At the same time, youth movements calling for democracy and human rights were forcibly clamped down by the military regimes of the day.

When Nigeria returned to multi-party democracy in 1999, there was optimism that the new system would prove more inclusive. But while youths hoped to be at the new vanguard of political progress, they were more often drafted to serve as thugs and henchmen for the same older political class.

Young people’s significance in Nigerian politics diminished, and apathy grew. Today, the youngest member of the parliament at the national level is 43.

Taking on Nigeria’s political landscape
Agwuegbo and the Not Too Young To Run movement wants to turn this around and see more youths in parliament again. They believe that if young people were to run and win in the elections, they could foster a more inclusive politics from within. They could introduce new perspectives and spearhead much-needed innovation in Nigeria’s governance systems. With the 2019 elections on the horizon, Agwuegbo believes youth movements can help carry suitable candidates to office.

However, some analysts argue that the barriers may prove greater than the activists expect. Nwangwu, for example, suggests that young candidates will not get far unless there are more extensive changes to the broader electoral system and political culture too.

“This movement can make an impact but its impact is minimal,” he says. “Their activism may just slip into insignificance if there is no back up electoral reforms or if the monetary aspects of our politics are not resolved.”

Nwangwu emphasises that money plays a huge role in Nigerian politics and successful election campaigns.

“It’s one thing to be ambitious and it’s another thing to have the resources to bring your ambition to life,” he says. “Politics is extremely costly in Nigeria. At every stage in our politics, a whole lot of money is involved both at the local and national level. Most of these youths are recent graduates, unemployed or under-employed. They can barely take three square meals a day. ”

Political analyst Nwafor Justice also believes young hopefuls will find the political terrain hostile. Ethnic, regional and other divisions may make it difficult for candidates to attract young voters in a coherent way that cuts across these lines. Meanwhile, the existing political system is set up in the way that can make it difficult for new runners.

“The two major political parties would not open up the space for younger politicians to contest through their platform,” says Justice. “Unless the government introduces independent candidacy [allowing candidates to run without a party platform], the youths would not find a way around this.”

To really make an impact, Justice argues, young people need to create their own political party. This does not seem to be on the cards for now.

Many young Nigerians insist they are well-aware of the tough challenges they face going forwards. For some, these hurdles are simply too many and too high. But Agwuegbo and her fellow activists say it will take one step at a time. Getting the Not Too Young To Run bill signed into law is just one such step, but they say its progress shows the growing power young people have seized already.

“The successes we have recorded with the movement so far are historic in themselves because it shows the power of young people to change the nation and bring glory to Nigeria,” says Agwuegbo.

“We have proven that young people are not just the future of Nigeria. They are Nigeria today.”

Source: Africaargument

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23 Mar

2019 Elections: INEC targets 80 million voters

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday said that the commission was targeting registration of 80 million Nigerians in the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) ahead of the 2019 .

The Chairman of the INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said this at a dialogue with a coalition of Civil Society Organisations in Abuja .

Yakubu, who was represented by Prof Okey Ibeanu, an INEC National Commissioner, said that so far, the commission had added other four million registrants to the voters’ register so there were around 72, 73 million registrants.

He said that if the rate of registration being experienced was anything to go by, the number would approach 80 million by the time the process was concluded.

He said that the commission expended between N115 billion and N120 billion on the 2015 polls.

“Elections are not really coming cheap in Nigeria so to speak; the 2015 election cost the country between 115 and 120 billion naira.

“Compared to that of 2015, the 2019 election budget would be affected by the current exchange rate of naira to dollars.

“Now you can do a computation, 150 naira to the dollar in 2015 and 300 to the dollar right now. You can then imagine what the present election might cost,” he said.

Yakubu explained that the electoral umpire had done everything possible to keep the budget for the 2019 election consistent with the exiting realities of the country.

“Again, this goes back to the question of concluding on the electoral legal framework because if you are going to do transmission by law from the polling units that means additional cost.

“If you are going to have an additional round of election, that will mean additional cost.

“So these are some of the issues that tie the electoral legal framework to the budget, to the planning.”

The INEC chairman said that the Electoral Act provided that 60 days into a new year or not later than 60 days into a new year, the commission should avail political parties the list of registered voters from the previous year.

He said that the commission had already complied with that, adding that political parties received the registered voters from 2017 about two or three weeks ago.

Yakubu sought partnership with the civil society organisations (CSOs) and other stakeholders on how to deal with high cost of conducting election in the country.

He expressed the hope that in the long term, partnership was one major area that INEC, Situation Room and other stakeholders would engage to see how to deal with the question of cost of election.

He said that there were already discussions going on collaboration but needed to be taken more seriously.

He added that the budget for the election had been completed and submitted to government and the commission was still awaiting reaction.

The Convener of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Mr Clement Nkanwko, said the essence of the meeting was to engage INEC on how far it had fared .

Nwankwo said that there was need for Nigerians to know the improvement made on the ongoing continuous voters’ registration.

He said this would enable the commission to know how it could improve on the process towards making 2019 poll a success.

Source: NigerianPilot

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23 Mar

More youths register with Modern Democratic Party

Nigerian youths are showing more interest politics, many of them registering with the newly registered Modern Democratic Party (MDP). With the ‘Not Too Young to Run’ Bill still pending approval by President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerian youths have started to position themselves for political leadership and active participation in the upcoming 2019 elections and beyond.

The new party, led by 27-year old activist and entrepreneur, Prince Bukunyi Olateru-Olagbegi, represents the new face of active youth involvement in politics. Recently registered by Nigeria’s top electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the party intends to galvanise youths into engaging in policy formulation, government accountability and running for political office.

According to Olateru-Olagbegi, the party belongs solely to Nigerians who yearn to see a difference in politics and governance. He explained that the mission of the party is to be home for those who are weary of the status quo and want to be part of something fresh, new, untainted and different.

“We are focused on harnessing the mental and physical resources of this unique generation of youth brimming with fresh ideas and innovations which will finally put Nigeria in its rightful place on the world stage,” Olateru-Olagbegi said.

“We know that the journey ahead of us will be long. This is not a party registered for the 2019 presidential elections. We are here for the long haul and wish to call on all true patriots of our fatherland to get involved as we embark on this journey towards building Nigeria’s first and truly Modern Democratic Party.”

Last year, the Nigerian Senate passed the Not Too Young To Run Bill which seeks age reduction for elective officers in the country and allows the youths an opportunity to contest for the office of the president at the age of 35, and governor or senator at the age of 30.

As young people across the country are calling on President Buhari to assent to the bill, the Modern Democratic Party has gone ahead to unveil its manifesto and planned activities in preparation for next year’s general elections.

Source: The Nation

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23 Mar

British High Commissioner Lauds Nigerian Youths Over NotTooYoungToRun Bill

British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright has commended YIAGA Africa and young Nigerians for securing the passage of the Age Reduction Bill, popularly referred to as #NotTooYoungToRun Bill by both National and State Houses of Assembly, as the bill awaits Presidential assent.  Mr. Arkwright stated this during the Commonwealth Big Lunch event on Thursday in Abuja.

The Big Lunch event had participants from various Youth Organizations in attendance, including YIAGA Africa. In his address, Mr. Arkwright noted that, the Big Lunch event in Nigeria is themed around Youths who are important to the Commonwealth as 60 per cent of Commonwealth Nations citizens are below 30 years of age. He further stated that, 40 per cent of the world youth live in Commonwealth countries and 1 Billion people living in Commonwealth countries are under 25 years of age.

The High Commissioner noted that, activities of youth organizations are important to the Commonwealth and matters to the future of Nigeria as well, saying young people in Nigeria face challenges and the good work youth organizations carry out provide solutions to those challenges.

Citing example of efforts of young people in Nigeria, the High Commissioner stated, “For example, you should all be proud of your role to secure the passage of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill, a reform that has been long overdue and a reform that I and a number of other High Commissioners here present have also supported. I was delighted to meet the YIAGA Group earlier and many congratulations to you for pushing through. I hope that it leads and open the doors to greater youth participation in politics and in policy making throughout Nigeria.”

“Activities of youth organizations are very important to the Commonwealth and matters to the future of Nigeria. British Prime Minister Theresa May have put youth at the heart of the upcoming CommonWealth Summit in London. She has invited youth delegates to address commonwealth leaders in New York in September to talk about their vision for the Commonwealth”, he said

Employment, Climate Change, Peace and Security and how to improve trade amongst Commonwealth countries are all part of the agenda for the September Summit according to the High Commissioner.

“At the Summit before the leaders meet, there will be a Commonwealth Youth Forum that will provide the opportunity for young people of the Commonwealth to build cross-cultural connections and networks to debate the challenges facing young people and to agree youth-led initiatives to influence decision makers and to ensure young people have a voice in their future”, he added

“I encourage you to see the Commonwealth as a network and vehicle for supporting your campaigns on behalf of young people in Nigeria. My team and I look forward to working with you on the commitment that would be made at the London Summit.

The future of Nigeria is the future of young people and if young people are not included in that debate, then the future of Nigeria will but be a happy one. I am confident that it will be a happy one because people like you will be involved and I encourage you to stay involved and get involved in elections and vote. Make sure your votes count”, he concluded.

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22 Mar

Electronic Transfer Of Poll Results : Massive Step Forward

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently stated that results collated at the polling units would be electronically transmitted during the 2019 general elections. Electronic transmission of results is no doubt commendable considering its potency in authenticating veracity of results as well as relevance in discouraging alteration of results at the polling units as well as collation centres. It would also be relevant in reducing disputes arising from results collated and announced as all the parties and stakeholders would have access to proper means of verification of final vote tallies. Electronic transmission of results will also bequeath the electoral process with efficiency of the electoral process as well as timely announcement of final outcome of election.

It is recalled that Nigeria’s electoral process has suffered huge credibility deficit as a result of untoward Election Day practices such as alteration of result sheets, falsification of poll results, mutual illicit vote allocations by parties or candidates, duplication of result sheets to create confusion as well as ballot box snatching to perpetrate falsification of result. The absence of means of proper authentication of poll outcome has provided incentive for these malpractices which most often degenerate to post-election violence and thwarting of the popular will and mandate of the people. Untidy electoral process that creates loopholes for manipulation could no longer be an acceptable practice as it undermines popular choice in determining the heath of any democratic system.

It is therefore heart-warming that INEC is finally taking appropriate steps to address the lingering challenges of malpractices associated with manipulation of poll results. Electronic transmission of results will consolidate the gains already recorded with the introduction of Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) and Card Readers in the 2015 general elections. The move by INEC to have all results transmitted electronically at the end of vote count will significantly reduce criminal tendencies of desperate politicians who have indulge in electoral malfeasance for too long a period unmindful of the negative consequences on the democratic process. We therefore urge that INEC be given necessary support to clean up the electoral process and further strengthen the democratic process.

Notwithstanding, it is imperative to reiterate the need for INEC to ensure that transmission of election is diligently carried and devoid of controversies. It is noteworthy that INEC has already assured that a separate software has been developed for the purposes of transmitting election results from the polling units. However, arrangement being proposed with the National Communication Commission (NCC) must be thoroughly worked out to enable the relevant Telecommunication company properly deploy their technical capabilities for the seamless execution of electronic transmission of poll results.

If the proposed method of electronic transmission of results becomes successful, there are huge prospects that the overriding effect would have invested a new level of confidence in the Nigeria’s electoral process. We therefore emphasise that beyond INEC, Nigerians irrespective of political persuasions and level of scepticism should see the initiative as another strategic step in the journey towards credible election in Nigeria. Political parties in particular should consider their roles as partners in ensuring the success of electronic transmission of results as some of the concerns relating to Election Day malpractices would have been substantially if not totally eliminated if electronic transmission of results becomes a success in subsequent elections. It is nevertheless expected INEC will do all that is necessary to ensure that the investment in the proposed initiative accomplishes the objectives and purposes.

More importantly, INEC must begin to address, in earnest, likely challenges such as power failure, telecommunication network failure, logistics for accessing nooks and crannies of the country that may crop up across the country in the process of transmitting results electronically. Perhaps INEC should consider test-running the initiative during the conduct of Ekiti and Osun governorship elections coming up later in 2018 as a way of fine-tuning associated logistics towards achieving unimpeded electronic transmission of election results. Whereas challenges are not unexpected with the use of technology in our clime, it is expected that proactive measures would be carefully taken into account and relevant contingency plans put in place to address anticipated hiccups.

Source: Independent

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21 Mar

Raging Battle over Election Sequence

The battle of wits between the National Assembly and the Presidency over an amendment to the Electoral Act, reordering the sequence of the 2019 elections is showing no sign of abating, writes Omololu Ogunmade

Eventually, President Muhammadu Buhari lived up to the expectation of most Nigerians during the week when he announced that he had vetoed the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018 sent to him by the National Assembly for assent.
The bill has been a subject of controversy since the House of Representatives during one of its deliberations, opted to reorder the sequence of the 2019 elections as against the timetable already announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Whereas INEC had scheduled the presidential election to come first along with National Assembly polls on February 16, 2019, and governorship and houses of assembly elections on March 2, the House of Representatives opted to break the traditional tie of the presidential election with National Assembly polls by rearranging the scheduled polls, with National Assembly polls coming first in the bill and the presidential election coming last.

This idea quickly excited the Senate, which had earlier passed its own version of the bill without dabbling into election sequence by quickly buying it and hence, during the conference committee meeting of both chambers of the National Assembly on February 6, the proposed reordering of the polls by the House was adopted.

The intensity of the controversy generated by the decision overshadowed several other amendments in the bill to such an extent that election sequence seemed to be the only amendment carried out in the bill. However, this move did not go down well with the presidency which saw it as a threat to the chances of Buhari at the forthcoming polls.

Last month, during one of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings in the State House, the presidency summoned INEC officials to the meeting. Although there was no briefing thereafter on what FEC discussed with INEC, a presidential source told THISDAY that the controversy on sequence of elections was discussed but not meant for public consumption.

Few days after, INEC insisted that notwithstanding the passage of the bill, its initial election schedule remained sacrosanct. Since then, the National Assembly had awaited the president’s veto and quietly began to mobilise its members to override it.

In the amendment, the National Assembly inserted a new Section 25(1) into the bill with the intention to make election sequence a legal matter. Opponents of the provision believe that the new provision violates Section 76 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which places the sole responsibility of fixing election dates on the electoral body.

The new provision in the bill states that elections shall be held in the following order: (a) National Assembly elections (b) State Houses of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) Presidential election without assigning dates.

Consequently, the National Assembly has been quick to defend its action, saying it did not perform INEC function by fixing election dates but only spelt out election sequence. It also argued that its decision was in compliance with Section 4(2) of the constitution which empowers it to make laws for peace, order and good governance of the country.

But the president and his men believe that the action of the National Assembly was in bad faith as in their own perspective, it was deliberately conceived to turn the table against the president at the forthcoming polls, an allegation the National Assembly has rejected.

According to the Chairman, House Committee on INEC, Edward Pwajok, the controversial election sequence was not targeted at anyone as believed but rather a move meant to provide Nigerians with the platform to make quality decision on choices of candidates for National Assembly polls.

“The sequence of election provision in the bill is not targeted at anybody but aimed at giving credibility to the electoral process. This is by giving the electorate the opportunity to vote based on qualities of candidates vying for National Assembly seats,” Pwajok had said.

But the president, in his letter conveying his veto on the bill to the National Assembly, did not cite the introduction of sequence of elections into the bill as the main reason for his decision. He however cited other amendments in the bill, which he said informed his decision.

Although his letter was dated March 8, 2018, it was only read by presiding officers of both houses of the National Assembly on March 13. Therein, he stated without ambiguity that the National Assembly by the insertion of Section 25(1) in the bill was attempting to usurp INEC powers to fix elections dates. He also cited other amendments, which he disagreed with.

“Pursuant to Section 58(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate, my decision, on 3rd March 2018, to decline Presidential Assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly.

“Some of my reasons include the following: the amendment to the sequence of elections in Section 25 of the Principal Act, may infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission to organise, undertake and supervise elections provided in Section 15(A) of the third statue to the Constitution;

“The amendment to Section 138 of the Principal Act to delete two crucial grounds upon which an election may be challenged by candidates, unduly limits the rights of candidates in elections to a free and fair electoral review process; and

“The amendment to Section 152(3)-(5) of the Principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections,” the letter read.
But 24 hours after the letter was read, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja granted an interlocutory injunction brought by Accord Party, restraining the National Assembly from commencing the process of overriding the president’s veto.

The motion was a faster approach than the earlier suit by an Abuja-based legal practitioner, Chyma Anthony, who had on March 6, filed a suit asking the court to determine, if among other things, National Assembly by its action had not usurped the powers of INEC to fix election dates and consequently violated provisions of the 1999 Constitution which empower INEC to perform such function.

The plaintiff also prayed the court to specify if any other body reserves the right to exercise perceived INEC’s constitutional power on election matters including election schedule and its sequence.

However, the court injunction restraining the National Assembly from proceeding to override the president’s veto on Wednesday, provoked anger in the Senate, prompting it to write the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, asking him to call his men to order.

In the opinion of the senators, following a motion moved by the Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, members of the judicial arm of government were violating the principle of separation of powers by interfering in the affairs of the legislature, another arm of government.

Akpabio warned that the trend might be a dangerous precedent, which another person might explore in the nearest future to stop the legislature from performing its functions.

However, the president’s decision to veto the bill as some may want to believe, might have been predicated on his belief that the National Assembly would find it impossible to secure a two-third majority of each of the chambers that is required to override his veto.

Already, the All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus in each chamber is divided on the matter while the minority members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are unanimous in their preparedness to override the veto. At the last count, only 22 of 66 APC members and 43 PDP members in the Senate have reportedly indicated interest in overriding the president’s veto.

In all, 73 of 109 members are required to override the veto in the chamber, but that is if they are all present at such a sitting otherwise it would be the two-thirds of members present that is required to make the override possible. In otherwise, that makes the decision to override the president easier. Unfortunately, it does appear the presidency is not aware of this development.

Nevertheless, the politics between the executive and the legislature on the bill, if not quickly nipped in the bud, holds the possibility of affecting the 2019 polls and throwing the country into crisis as a protocol of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) stipulates that the Electoral Act must be ready at least six months before the general election.

This implies that this battle for supremacy should not exceed July next year as it may call to question the validity of the polls. It is against this background that the question being asked is: when will common sense prevail between the two arms of government?
The crux of the matter is politics and it is that National Assembly’s insistence on having its own election first and the presidential election last is meant to checkmate the huge influence of the presidential election on other elections. Thus, the output of the first poll always rubs off on other elections, acting as the compass for the electorate to follow in other polls.

For instance, the victory of the APC in the 2015 presidential poll swayed victory in favour of the party in other polls. This appears to be the fear of the ruling APC if the presidential election comes last.
On the other hands, there are those who believe in the National Assembly that the president, in view of his handling of some issues in the polity in recent times, has lost goodwill and may lose at the presidential poll, a situation they believe may have bandwagon effects on them.

But, when will this battle end, at least, in national interest? This is the rhetorical question agitating the minds of many Nigerians, who believe that this contest between the two arms of government is both selfish and needless.
Besides, the decision by the Senate to drag the judiciary into the battle through its letter to CJN has made the battle a tripartite war among the three main organs of government. Where and when will this intrigue end? That is the question expected to be answered by unfolding events as even foreign countries such as the United States and United Kingdom are keenly watching the scenario.

Although the president reportedly met Thursday evening with the leadership of the National Assembly with a view to resolving the stalemate, it didn’t see like they found a middle ground yet as far as the matter is concerned.
Only recently, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, told the Deputy Senate President, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, when he visited him that Britain was interested in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.

“The legislative programme, which you have in the Senate and the National Assembly, the changes to the electoral laws are also important to us”, he said. But as it is, only time will tell therefore, where the pendulum will swing in the end.

Source: This Day

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19 Mar

NotTooYoungToRun: Letter to President Muhammadu Buhari Requesting Assent to Age Reduction Bill

March 14, 2018

Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR

President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

State House,

Abuja, Nigeria

Dear President Buhari,


We the undersigned members of the Not Too Young To Run movement bring you greetings. The Movement comprises youth and civil society organizations drawn from different parts of the country working to promote youth issues in policy making and constitution review process.


Mr. President, since last year, young Nigerians across divide have worked very hard to advocate for the age reduction bill. This demand is premised on five key points which include: promoting inclusion, deepening intergenerational dialogue and exchange, and enhancing democratic development. Till date, this campaign has gained both national and global attention with the United Nations adopting it as a global campaign for youth inclusion. More recently, the African Union and ECOWAS also endorsed the campaign. The campaign has been launched in several countries in Africa like Kenya, Gambia, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Cameroun and Sierra Leone. The Not Too Young to Run movement has become a rallying call for ALL Nigerian youths who are ready to make meaningful contributions to development of our country, and who have recognized that THERE IS NO MEANINGUL REPRESENTATION WITHOUT INCLUSION.

The #NotTooYoungToRun bill is a bill that seeks to reduce the constitutional age requirement for running for elective office in Nigeria. The ultimate goal of the bill is to promote increased youth participation in the political process. The movement has engaged with the leadership of the national and state legislatures through visits and personalized letters to all 109 Senators, 360 members of the House of Representatives and 991 House of Assembly members; National Days of Action in 24 states and the FCT with an estimated 10,000 people participating; appearances on all the major media stations in Nigeria and the international media; as well as sustained interactive social media conversations.

In July 2017, the Nigerian Senate passed the #NotTooYoungtoRun bill, with an overwhelming majority (86 Senators). The bill was also passed by a large majority (261 members) in the House of Representatives. In February 2018, the age reduction constitution amendment bill popularly known as the Not Too Young To Run bill was passed by 33 out of 36 state Houses of Assembly. The bill is amongst the amendments transmitted to the National Assembly by the State Assembly on March 1, 2018.

With this unprecedented feat, the world looks to you to assent to the constitutional amendment. Once you assent, the bill becomes law making it possible for young people to run for office in 2019 and beyond.

Our Request

It is against this background that the #NotTooYoungToRun movement requests that you assent to the Age Reduction bill as soon as the National Assembly transmits the constitutional amendment bills to you.

For more details, please contact Ibrahim Faruk on 08086988636 or

While we look forward to your kind consideration of our request, please accept the assurances of our highest esteem.


Itodo Samson

Convener, Not Too Young To Run movement


  1. Activista
  2. Abuja Global Shapers
  3. African Youth Initiative on Population, Health & Development (AfrYPoD)
  4. Connected Development [CODE]
  5. Dean Initiative
  6. The Election Network
  7. League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN)
  8. Mind Capital
  9. The Nigerian Youth Parliament
  10. Orodata,
  11. Project Pink Blue
  12. Social Good Nigeria
  13. TechHer NG
  14. The YALI Network
  15. Youngstars Foundation
  16. Youth Hub Africa
  17.  YIAGA Africa
  18. Amplified Radio
  19. Media Insight
  20. Say No Campaign
  21. Vision Alive Foundation, Abia
  22. Youth Initiative for Better Change, Adamawa
  23. Young Activists Initiative Nigeria, Akwa Ibom
  24. Integrity Youth Development Initiative, Anambra
  25. Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, Bayelsa
  26. The Bridge Youth Development Foundation, Benue
  27. Exit Lanes, Borno
  28. After School Centre for Career Development, Cross River
  29. DIG Foundation, Ebonyi
  30. Connected Advocacy, Edo
  31. Inspiration Care Centre, Ekiti
  32. New Century Initiative, Enugu
  33. Dandalin Matasa Initiative for Rapid Development, Gombe
  34. Development Dynamics, Imo
  35. Centre for Environmental Research and Development, Jigawa
  36. One Project Afrika. Kaduna
  37. Centre for Advocacy in Gender and Social Inclusion, Kano
  38. Youth Entrepreneurship Support Hub, Katsina
  39. Youth Consensus Forum, Kebbi
  40. Youth Emancipation for the Society (ProjectYES), Kogi
  41. Brain Builders International, Kwara
  42. Grassroots Mobilization Initiative, Nasarawa
  43. Nigerian Young Professionals Forum, Niger
  44. Youth Future Savers Initiatives, Ogun
  45. Youth Aglow Initiative, Ondo
  46. Kimpact Development Initiative, Osun
  47. Young Care Initiative, Oyo
  48. Centre for Youth Participation Advocacy, Plateau
  49. Golden Star Development Initiative, Sokoto
  50. Rural Integrated Development Initiative, Taraba
  51. North East Youth Initiative Forum, Yobe
  52. Golden Stars Development Initiative, Zamfara
  53. Modaville Centre for Development, Lagos
  54. National Organization for Citizens Orientation (NOCO), Rivers State.
  55. Nigerian Youth Action (NYA), Rivers State, Nigeria

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19 Mar

YIAGA Africa Mourns Senator Wakili

YIAGA Africa received with shock the news of the passing away of the senator representing Bauchi South senatorial district, Senator Ali Wakili, an astute statesman whose immense contribution to nation building will without doubt never be forgotten.

Sen. Wakili before his demise was a partner of YIAGA Africa’s Centre for Legislative Engagement (YIAGA-CLE) through the Senate Committee on Poverty Alleviation and Social Welfare he presides over. Under his leadership, he’s proven commitment to improving the socio-economic development of the country and sustainable social welfare initiatives.  Late Senator Wakili is also a historian with whom we shared a common interest: the inclusion of marginalized group & the downtrodden in the society.

We will not forget his contribution in providing a legal framework for protection of rights of persons with disabilities from all forms of discrimination and ill-treatment in the society through the Disability Bill before his Committee.

We have indeed lost a people’s champion whose contributions to discourse of national importance in plenary are founded in knowledge and incisive.

We send our condolence to the family of the deceased, the good people of Bauchi state, Nigeria and the 8th National Assembly. May Allah almighty, the merciful, grant you the fortitude to bear this loss and grant his soul eternal rest.

YIAGA-CLE was established with the goal of promoting the development of legislatures in Nigeria and across the African continent. It is common knowledge that through their constitutional responsibilities of oversight, representation and lawmaking, legislatures play a vital role in a functioning democracy.

Any effective legislature in a society guards against executive overreach, ensures no citizen or group is left without a voice in governance, and help transcend transformative laws that drives the development of the nation. YIAGA-CLE has one mission: to strengthen the ability of legislature – at the federal and state levels – to fulfill these roles in compliance with democratic principles and standards.

Since its establishment, YIAGA-CLE has produced high level knowledge on the National Assembly of Nigeria for citizens and legislators, while also providing cutting edge technical assistance and trainings for legislators and their staff. Established with the support of the European Union (EU) and under the EU’s Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) Project, YIAGA-CLE is using innovative research, capacity development and public engagement to bolster the Nigerian Legislature as a pillar of democracy in the country.



Samson Itodo

Executive Director

YIAGA Africa

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19 Mar

Anti-Corruption Fight : The Youth Inclusiveness Question By Michael E. Agada

The clamour for youth inclusion in governance in Nigeria is without doubt one of the most visible consistent campaigns over the last decade. The high level of poverty, unemployment and increase in organized crime has further escalated the call for the inclusion of youth in the governance architecture of the world’s most populous black Nation.  Considering the figures which is an estimated population of 68 million Nigerian Youths, it is no brainer why the campaign and insistence for youth inclusion is even more intensified. Overtime, different civil society organizations, clerics, academia, international organizations and even foreign governments have faulted the political set-up of Nigeria in the area of youth inclusiveness. By extension, many proponents of youth inclusiveness have linked the decadence in social values and increased corruption on the inability of the State to cater for its teeming youthful population.

Every year, different political parties and candidates made it a point of campaign to address this structural imbalance that do not favor youth participation beyond campaign organizers, social media influencers, critics and the likes, as they in their own words believed that the time has come to embrace youth participation in full measure. Hence they make promises like 30% affirmative action or whatever sooths their narrative, in their quest to get to power. How far these political parties fare when they get to power or even in their own internal party structure is topic for another day.

While the conversations about youth inclusiveness trended, on and off-line, many political watchers saw that the extent of youth involvement in governance goes beyond the usual on and off line campaign as it’s realization was embedded in the altering of the 1999 constitution to discard the age restriction imposed on young people to contest for political office in the first place. Youth exclusion they believed was a function of an existing order backed by law and considering that it will require the amendments to that clause by the National Assembly, they rechanneled their focus and energy to mount pressure on the National Assembly giving rise to the passage of the age reduction bill, otherwise known as the #NotTooYoungToRun bill. Similarly, applauds also goes to the State assemblies that concurred to this bill. It is now left for the President to join this league of democracy advocates, by assenting to the age reduction bill.

Meanwhile, the role of youth goes beyond participating in politics. The anti-corruption fight is the responsibility of all, especially young people. Understanding youth inclusiveness in the anti-corruption campaign is even made easier when you understand the various implications inherent in shutting out a great percentage of your population from participating in governance. If you do not wonder why a country who has excluded a greater percentage of its youth in governance has been so backwards in terms of developments and societal progress, you’ll definitely not wonder why the anti-corruption fight has been stalled or depreciated despite recorded effort. The youth demographic is simply pointing to the fact that any project embarked upon without the inclusion of the youth is a mirage. This is the story of the Nigerian anti-corruption war.

These ideas got even more buttressed during my experience in the public integrity debate competition for students of tertiary institutions organized by YIAGA Africa. The project is an activity under the #BounceCorruption project of YIAGA and is supported by MacArthur foundation.

During the project lunch in September last year, YIAGA Africa’s Executive Director Mr. Samson Itodo, said the #BounceCorruption project is designed to complement efforts by state and non-state actors in the fight against corruption by promoting zero tolerance for corruption and impunity through effective citizens oversight and mobilization for accountable governance. I believe that Mr. Itodo’s strategy to focus on enlisting citizens in the anti-corruption fight was borne out of the apparent inefficiency of successive governments in this regard, as it was virtually impossible to wage war against corruption without having citizens, particularly youths as frontrunners.

One of the ways YIAGA Africa used in engaging young people is through the Bounce Corruption public integrity debate across Nigerian tertiary institutions. The debate competition is designed for students in selected tertiary institutions across the six geo-political zones of the country. It provides a platform for harnessing youth views into the anti-corruption crusade as well as a platform for propagating the values of integrity, transparency and accountability. Privileged to have been to four (4) zones so far, we have recorded participation of about 15 tertiary institutions with close to a thousand (1000) student participants across the zones. I can confidently conclude that any anti-corruption strategy that seeks to correct the ills of society without adequately outlining the extent of youth involvement may likely not be a success. I saw first-hand the zeal of young people in yearning to attain a society devoid of corruption. I was extremely impressed by their knowledge as they demystified the current anticorruption strategy which was the subject under discuss at the debates.  I saw the need for creating more platforms and directly involving youths in challenges that affects them. To do otherwise will be counterproductive to say the least.

Through its Bounce Corruption project, YIAGA Africa has also engaged youths in areas of developing a software prototype designed to help in the fight against corruption during its recent Hackathon (Hack4Good) contest, as well as mobilizing popular On Air Personalities (#BounceCorruption Radio Ambassadors) across the 36 States of the Federation and FCT on content development for effective messaging on anti-corruption and on effective media engagement on Nigeria’s anti-corruption strategy.

The project currently manages a robust Radio Ambassadors network, committed to promoting accountability and mainstreaming anti-corruption messages into radio programming. The major aim of this initiative is to sensitize and enlighten citizens about the anticorruption campaign thereby enlisting them as advocates of a corrupt free society, hence a reversal of the negative trends that have overshadowed national and international discourse overtime.

But YIAGA Africa can only do that much, as it might be constrained by numerous factors especially finances to aggressively mobilize citizens and youths across board in the anti-corruption movement that seeks to place our country on the annals progressive states and youth inclusiveness. CSOs, NGOs, and government should be encouraged to embrace YIAGA’s ideas in its quest for a robust anticorruption war. Youth inclusiveness, as has been enshrined in YIAGA’s modus operandi is the way forward.

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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