Blog

23 Mar
0

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.

Read More
22 Mar
0

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

Read More
21 Mar
0

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

Read More
19 Mar
0

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,

REQUEST FOR ASSENT TO THE AGE REDUCTION BILL (NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN)

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.

Background

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 fibrahim@yiaga.org.

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

Sincerely,

Itodo Samson

Convener, Not Too Young To Run movement

Signed

  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

Read More
19 Mar
0

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.

 

Signed

Samson Itodo

Executive Director

YIAGA Africa

Read More
19 Mar
0

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. 

Read More
19 Mar
0

Not Too Young To Run: The Demand for a Youth Inclusive Constitution, By Cynthia Mbamalu

The #NotTooYoungToRun movement presents a model for citizens’ activism, because for the first time in my lifetime and that of so many Nigerians, I see Nigerians uniting across religious, ethnic and political lines driven by one goal – youth political inclusion. That to me is the Nigerian spirit that we all need.

Today I march because I want to run for elections in 2019 and if the president for any reason does not give his assent to the age reduction bill it means I will have to wait until the next election cycle and I do not have four years to wait” – Benedicta Ndi Kato

Greatest Nigerian youth, today we ask for inclusion, today we build the future, today we decide our destiny, today we walk towards inclusion, we have worked, National Assembly has passed the Bill, the State Assembly has passed it and now we need the President to Assent…” – Rinsola Abiola

This is the current reality of young Nigerians who have worked in different capacities in their communities and beyond but whose aspiration to run for elective offices have been constantly fettered by the Nigerian Constitution. The Constitution ordinarily should be the guarantee of the protection for the exercise of rights in a democracy. As a people, we should be worried that when we go to the polls during elections, our options of candidates into the various elective offices from the Presidency to the State Assemblies are limited to a select few who are not a true reflection of our population. We should be worried that the face of government at the different levels do not reflect youth or even women, in a country where the youth demography is projected to be over 50 percent of the total population, and the number of women projected to be almost half the population of Nigeria. The NotTooYoungToRun bill, which seeks to reduce the age for contesting elections in the Constitution is an affirmation of the need for a more inclusive political system and electoral process. It is a bill that is long overdue and a youth movement that is much needed in a country where young people are beginning to lose hope in the government and in Nigeria.

So, when we marched on March 14, 2018 from the Unity Fountain to the presidential villa in Abuja, we did not march under the scorching heat of the sun because we wanted to participate in a fun activity. We marched because we need the presidential assent for the #NotTooYoungToRun bill to become law; it is long past the time for complacency over the outright injustice in a system that has constantly excluded the youth from government. Considering that in the 2015 general elections in Nigeria, only 11 percent were youth candidates for the Senate, 10 percent for governorship, 18 percent for the House of Representatives, 29 percent for the State Houses of Assembly election, with almost half of that number not qualified to run for the election based on the age criteria in the Constitution. We marched because we believe that inclusion is a fundamental principle in a democracy. We marched because each time we see the news and reports highlighting the increase in the rate of youth unemployment and poverty, we are shaken and worried about the threat that this poses to national development. We marched because Nigeria is ours and we are major stakeholders in the development of our democracy and sustainable development in Nigeria. For the movement, we recognise that the process of socio-political transformation begins with the Constitution.

The Constitution-making process in modern times provides an opportunity for socio-political transformation, especially to the extent to which the process incorporates citizens’ participation. More countries in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, are adopting a more participatory process in their constitution making processes, which have produced more progressive constitutional guarantees, ranging from constitutionalising more social economic rights, the rights of women and youth to the adoption of affirmative action for the promotion of political inclusion for women and youth. The Kenyan Constitution, for instance, adopts conscious and targeted steps to ensure youth political inclusion by aligning the voting age with the eligibility age for contesting election at 18 years, with special seats reserved for the youth in the national assembly, Senate and the county assembly. Within the West African region, our close neighbour and sister country, Ghana, guarantees the rights of young people in the country to run for election into their parliament from 21 years old. In Gambia, young people can run for the legislative seat from 21 years old, and 30 years for the presidency; in Liberia young people from the age of 25 years can run for election into the House of Representative, at 30 years for the Senate seat and at 35 for the office of the president. This has enabled more youth candidates to emerge as elected officials from the recently concluded elections in the mentioned countries.

This time around, both the national and international interests in the constitution amendment process in Nigeria was sparked and has been sustained by the enthusiasm of young people leading the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign and engaging the constitutional amendment process. March 14, 2018 was the second time we marched for this bill and each time I see hope and a future for our democracy.

Notably, there are challenges to youth candidacy in Nigeria and even Africa beyond age limitation, ranging from money politics to the lack of internal party democracy. However, we have tested our ability to organise and we have seen the power in our organising democratically based ideologies, and in our number. The NotTooYoungToRun movement models it all. Convened by YIAGA Africa with a Strategy Team at the federal level, State coordinators for each of the 36 States and leadership teams consisting of young people from the local government areas in each State, the movement began with simple forms of advocacy. We learnt to leverage on both social media and traditional media, engage our respective communities, write as many letters as possible, with advocacy visits to both federal and State lawmakers, tracking the progression of the bill and constantly sharing information on the bill with the public, making the necessary phone calls and text messaging, engaging political, traditional and religious institutions and calling on the support of international friends. The Age Reduction Bill, which was introduced as a private member’s bill in the House of Representative by Honourable Tony Nwulu and in the Senate by Senator Abdulaziz Nyako became a subject of national discourse with young people at the different levels, leading the conversation on youth inclusion and why young people must engage the Constitution amendment process. The Age Reduction Bill was successfully passed by the National Assembly and 35 State Assemblies and is currently at the stage of presidential assent. As one of the leading movements emerging from Nigeria and connecting young people in Africa and beyond, NotTooYoungToRun is a proof that we are in the era of the youth, where the power for socio-political transformation begins with young people setting the political agenda and influencing political behaviour.

Perhaps we should consider the fact that our constitution-making process in Nigeria has over the years remained somewhat closed and elitist, with the decision-making process driven by the law makers in the National Assembly and State Houses of Assemblies, at least since our transition to democracy. There is no doubt that at different points in our democratisation journey, issues have been raised questioning the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as a true representation of the will of the people. As such, almost every Assembly has made attempts to amend sections of the Constitution with some being successful and others failing, like the 2012 constitution-making process, which failed at the stage of the presidential assent. This time around, both the national and international interests in the constitution amendment process in Nigeria was sparked and has been sustained by the enthusiasm of young people leading the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign and engaging the constitutional amendment process. March 14, 2018 was the second time we marched for this bill and each time I see hope and a future for our democracy.

The #NotTooYoungToRun movement presents a model for citizens’ activism, because for the first time in my lifetime and that of so many Nigerians, I see Nigerians uniting across religious, ethnic and political lines driven by one goal – youth political inclusion. That to me is the Nigerian spirit that we all need. The youth, as it is, have learnt to unite in our demand for accountable leadership and national development. As citizens, we have a responsibility to ensure that we build a Nigeria that works for all citizens and that our democracy does not become the dictatorship of a majority that is not a true representation of our vast population. The only option we have is to engage until we achieve results because as young Nigerians we have a higher stake. #NotTooYoungToRun is history being made.

Cynthia Mbamalu is a devoted Human Rights and Gender advocate with special interest in Constitution-Building and Elections. She is the Program Manager of YIAGA Africa, and can be reached via cmbamalu@yiaga.org. She tweets @DCynthiaM

Read More
19 Mar
0

Who benefits from reversed election sequence? By Alabi Williams

Curiously, the National Assembly, late in the day added a controversial aspect to its proposed 2018 amendment of the Electoral Act. The vexed aspect seeks to reverse the order of elections, bringing forward that of the Legislature and taking back that of the President.

In normal times, you would expect the party in government, which has greater numbers in the legislature to be concerned, first of all, with how to return to power in 2019. But here we have a NASS that has other concerns.

Another curiosity is that this aspect of proposed amendment came after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had rolled out its fixtures with dates and sequence for the 2019 general elections. That lateness to me has rendered the proposal suspect, as if it were an afterthought. Be that as it may, the legislature has shown uncommon courage to go where even angels fear to roam.

The executive, led by President Buhari last week withheld assent to the Electoral Act amendment Bill 2018. The NASS on February 14, 2018 passed the amendment to reorder the sequence of the election.

In doing so, they propose to make the National Assembly election to come first, while that of the president is to now come last. But Buhari, in explaining his rejection of the bill claimed the planned amendment contravened the constitutional provision that accorded INEC full autonomy in matters of election organization, and supervision as provided for in Section 15 (a) of the Third Schedule to the Constitution

The Section 25 of the Electoral Act, which has to do with Procedure At election gives the INEC powers to determine days of election and to determine postponements if the need arises. That is very clear.

The legislators have however argued that they have not tampered with INEC’s powers to determine days for election, but are only concerned with the sequence of elections, which does not injure the spirit of Section 25.

The Section 15 (A) of the Third Schedule enumerates the powers of the Commission to; organize, undertake and supervise elections; register parties; monitor parties’ finances and mode of operations; carry out annual audits of parties and make them public; register voters and a few more tasks.

The last of such tasks, but not the least, is the sub-section nine (9) that orders the INEC to carry out such other functions as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly.

I cannot say for sure, if the drafters of the letter that conveyed the rejection of the proposed amendment for Mr. President took time to study the entire Section 15 of the Third Schedule of the Constitution.

If they did not, they may need to go back and have a second look. That Section has nine (9) sub-sections under it, and it would appear dubious to just select one and run to town with it. That might leave some room for further disputations.

As matters unfold, unless President Buhari and his party are able to manage this face-off very well, it might just add to the list of troubles the party has visited on the polity since it came on board.

This particular one has the capacity to rubbish not only the party and their government, but could put the coming election into jeopardy.

The politico-legal fireworks have started, as the Legislature has announced its intention to override the President’s veto. But before we get to that bridge, some interloper, in the name of Accord Party (AP) has obtained an order at the Federal High Court, Abuja, restraining the NASS from taking advantage of Section 58, sub-section 5 of the Constitution to veto the President by two-thirds majority of the two houses.

The plaintiff also secured a restraint on the President, demanding that status quo be maintained, pending March 20-adjournment date. So, come Tuesday, more of the legal fireworks will unfold.

The NASS has indicated very strongly to argue from the premise that the principle of Separation of Powers has put a lid on how far the judiciary can intervene in certain matters. And if there is need to offer interpretations concerning the relationship between the Executive and the Legislature, the Supreme Court has sole ownership of that task.

Away from legalese, I have hinted that there seems to be some mischief in the timing of the proposed amendment. I say so purely for technical reasons and not on the intendment of the proposed law. I am of the opinion that the lawmakers ought to have brought the proposal earlier than they did because the window they have to make an amendment is thinning.

Since the matter is not adequately ventilated to allow for more debate, the public may not have opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of the law.

The NASS has argued that the importance of the Presidential election is over-exaggerated to the extent that it overshadows other elections.

It distracts from the volume of participation the other elections are entitled to, because once the Presidential election is done with, interest in other elections wane significantly. I tend to agree with that.

Other stakeholders express worry over the tension associated with the Presidential election, which is fought like a civil war, thus jeopardizing public peace and endangering the economy. They argue that reversing the sequence of elections and bringing that of President to the last might ease tension and sustain interest in the general elections. I also agree.

Others think the proposal is targeted at the President, but they have not explained how. They claim it is self-serving, as it brings forward the election into the National Assembly, which entitles them to some advantage.

Maybe, but they have also not explained how that could happen. I think what the NASS is saying is, ‘to your tent oh Israel’. Let everyman fight for himself; no more bandwagon effect. And what’s wrong with that?

The All Progressives Congress promised to rejig our electoral system, to reduce the stress and criminality that is associated with elections. They promised to research into why electoral violence is pervasive and work on laws to punish offenders.

So far, APC has not brought any bill to improve the electoral system it inherited. It is curious therefore, to see the Executive opposing a bill that seeks to radically affect the way we perceive elections, and scale down the violent tempers it engenders.

It seems to me that this 8th Legislature is a gift to Nigeria, in the sense that it is the most bipartisan since 1999.

The collaboration that frustrated the APC from dominating this NASS on June 9, 2015 could only have been divinely inspired to mitigate the tyranny that has enveloped the country.

Were this NASS to be unreasonably pliant, this APC government would have become intolerably arrogant, despite its monumental failures.

Despite their own failings, I still see this NASS as a rescue assembly. I see the proposed bill as a most audacious venture that might in the end consume legislators because I do not see any benefit in it for them individually.

As a matter of fact, many of them stand to benefit more from an electoral teamwork with the executive, than from the game of chance they have endorsed. But I see in it far more benefits for the country.

For Buhari in particular, he has again shown weakness and crass opportunism. He was far more courageous in his solo efforts during his days in the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), where he posted remarkable figures without the paraphernalia of a ruling party and powers of incumbency.

Why is he now afraid to further test his popularity with this new amendment? When will he bring his own bill to reform the electoral system? When is APC going to radically change the face of our elections?

I pray that this NASS is able to pull this through. If we do not want violent disruptions in this democracy, then the legislature must continue to insist on the doctrine of separation of powers. They have to be fearless, selfless and accountable, fiscally and spiritually!

Source: Guardian

Read More
15 Mar
0

Youths March to Presidential Villa for Buhari’s assent to Not Too Young To Run Bill

Thousands of Nigerian youths gathered at the Unity Fountain in Abuja for the Not Too Young to Run National Day of Action march to solicit President Buhari’s assent for the Not Too Young to Run bill. The bill which gained majority support from the National Assembly and 35 State Houses of Assembly seeks to reduce the age qualification for running for elective office in Nigeria.

Young Nigerians, from all walks of life, representing different youth groups across Geo-political zones, from Rivers, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Ekiti, Imo, Plateau, Bornu, Kaduna, Enugu, etc, turned out in their numbers to demand for a youth inclusive government.

NotYoungToRun March to Aso Villa to demand assent to age reduction bill

While calling on President Buhari to sign the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill, the group reminded President Buhari about his campaign promises to Nigerian youths in 2015. Young people at the march held up signs that read “Youth Inclusion is Youth Development” “Nothing for Us Without Us” as they made their way peacefully to Aso Villa.

The group also called on the National Assembly to finalize the harmonization of the constitutional amendment bills, which was submitted to them by the State Assemblies more than a week ago and transmit the amendment bills to the President for his assent.  The group stressed that failure to transmit the Not Too Young to Run bill to President Buhari for his timely assent will disenfranchise young Nigerians who are eagerly waiting for the outcome of the bill to commence their campaign process.

National Day of Action on Presidential Assent

Speaking at the rally, Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo called on young Nigerians nationwide to go out en-masse to collect their permanent voter’s card so that they can fully participate in the electoral process in 2019.

At about 3:30pm the Minister for Aviation Mr. Hadi Sirika came out from the Federal Executive Council meeting to address the youths who had been waiting patiently irrespective of the scorching heat of the sun. While speaking on behalf of the President, Mr. Sirika assured Nigerian youths that President Buhari will assent to the bill; “The President is a democrat, and if Nigerians have spoken he has no choice but to do the needful” he said. Mr. Sirika collected the letter addressed to the president and signed an acknowledgement copy as evidence of collection.

Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika signing acknowledgement copy of letter to President Buhari

Minister of State for Aviation Senator Hadi Sirika signing the #NotTooYoungToRun letter of demand on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari

The group wishes to unequivocally state that the news on some media platforms, reporting that today’s march, was a protest to President Buhari’s Rejection of Electoral Act Amendment Bill is false. The Group wishes to reiterate that the purpose of the #NotTooYoungtoRun National Day of Action peaceful march was to call on the National Assembly to expedite action and transmit the constitutional amendment bill to reduce the age for elective office in Nigeria to President Muhammadu Buhari’s and for the President to assent to the bill in a timely manner.

Not Too Young To Run Movement National Day of Action on Presidential Assent

The Not Too Young To Run movement further extends its gratitude to every single person who participated in this peaceful march. We thank the members of the media for their support and coverage of the peaceful rally. Today young people braced the scorching sun to demonstrate their support for the Not Too Young to Run Bill. They showed courage, resilience and enthusiasm for our democracy.

Read More
15 Mar
0

Nigerian Youths led a Peaceful March to Seek President Buhari’s assent for the Not Too Young To Run Bill

Thousands of Nigerian youths gathered at the Unity Fountain in Abuja for the Not Too Young to Run National Day of Action march to solicit President Buhari’s assent for the Not Too Young to Run bill. The bill has gained majority support from 35 State Houses of Assembly seeks to reduce the age qualification for running for elective office in Nigeria.

Young Nigerians, from all walks of life, representing different youth groups across geo-political zones, from Rivers, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Ekiti, Imo, Plateau, Bornu, Kaduna, Enugu, etc, turned out in their numbers to demand for a youth inclusive government.

While calling on President Buhari to sign the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill, the group reminded President Buhari about his campaign promises to Nigerian youths in 2015. Young people at the march held up signs that read “Youth Inclusion is Youth Development” “Nothing for Us Without Us” as they made their way peacefully to Aso Villa.

Not Too Young To Run Movement National Day of Action on Presidential Assent

The group also called on the National Assembly to finalize harmonization of the constitutional amendment bills, which was submitted to them by the states more than a week ago and transmit the amendment bills to the President for his assent.  The group stressed that failure to transmit the Not Too Young to Run bill to President Buhari for his timely accent will disenfranchise young Nigerians who are eagerly waiting for the outcome of the bill to commence their campaign process.

Speaking at the rally, Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo called on young Nigerians nationwide to go out en masses to collect their permanent voter cards so that they can fully participate in the electoral process in 2019.

At about 3:30pm the Minister for Aviation Mr. Hadi Sirika came out from the Federal Executive Council meeting to address the youths who had been waiting patiently irrespective of the scorching heat of the sun. While speaking on behalf of the President, Mr. Sirika assured Nigerian youths that President Buhari will assent to the bill; “The President is a democrat, and if Nigerians have spoken he has no choice but to do the needful” he said. Mr. Sirika collected the letter addressed to the president and signed an acknowledgement copy as evidence of collection.

Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika signing acknowledgement copy of letter to President Buhari

The group wishes to unequivocally state that the news on some media platforms, reporting that yesterday’s (14th March 2017) march, was a protest to President Buhari’s Rejection of Electoral Act Amendment Bill is false. The Group wish to reiterate that the purpose of the #NotTooYoungtoRun National Day of Action peaceful march was to call on the National Assembly to expedite action and transmit the constitutional amendment bill to reduce the age for elective office in Nigeria to President Muhammadu Buhari’s and for the President to accent to the bill in a timely manner.

This remain the sole purpose of this march and as a movement our commitment is to advocate for the speedy passage of the #NotTooYoungTooRun Bill which seeks to amend the Constitution and not the Electoral Act.

The Not Too Young To Run movement further extends its  gratitude to every single person who participated in this peaceful march. We thank the members of the media for their support and coverage of the peaceful rally. Today young people braced the scorching sun to demonstrate their support for the Not Too Young to Run Bill. They showed courage, resilience and enthusiasm for our democracy.

Read More

Notice: WP_Scripts::localize was called incorrectly. The $l10n parameter must be an array. To pass arbitrary data to scripts, use the wp_add_inline_script() function instead. Please see Debugging in WordPress for more information. (This message was added in version 5.7.0.) in /home/yiagacp/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5314