As it has been made to believe that politician must portrayed as old, potbellied and often sleazy. Defining the images shown on television by Nollywood, unless the youth participate in politics, we can expect the paradigm shift.
Age of candidacy restriction place on the Nigeria’s domestic process is just a tip of an iceberg as undemocratic practice seems to pivot our democratic process in general. The electoral laws have dangerously predicated electoral success on money, rather than the sovereignty of the people (youth).The dangerous implication of this is that electoral contest is skewed against poor and average people who constitute the mass majority of our country population (youth 60-70 percent of Nigeria population). Furthermore, patronage is encouraged, because of the billionaire who sponsors a candidate or a political party expects a sort of return on, or benefit from this investment. So it seems the people are left with the power to ratify any of the candidates that must have received the backing of the wealthy elites of Nigeria. Our current democracy have placed democracy and governance at the mercy of the privilege few billionaires and multinationals, youth can bridge the gap by placing it at the mercy of the people.
Not until July 26th and 27th, 2017, the Nigerian Senate and House of Representative respectively passed the constitutional amendment bills for age reduction and independent candidacy, more commonly known as the #NotTooYoungtoRun Bill. The Not Too Young to Run Bill seeks to bolster youth political participation by reducing the age requirement for elected position across the country. The bill will reduce the minimum age as follows:
Ø Presidential candidate from age 40 to 35
Ø Gubernatorial candidate from age 35 to 30
Ø Age 25 and above could be elected to serve in the house of Representative and the State House of Assembly.
The #NotTooYoungtoRun Bill has the potential to not only engage young people, but to leverage their abilities to transform the country politics. It has become trite to say that a country’s young people are its future but in Nigeria they are intact it’s present. The majority of Nigerians (60-70 percent by some estimates) are under the age of 35. Youth are disproportionately hurt by some of the nation’s most serious problems. For Nigerians of all ages, the willingness of the National Assembly to draw this cohort into Nigerian politics should be met with celebration.
Youth Participation in Politics- Will it Change Anything?
Considering that youth does participate in political arena overcoming various hurdles of lineage, background, platform et al, the most important thing expectant of the youth is to bring to fore- a ‘ray of hope’ (a new energy that is so characteristic of the young). Our country could use it even more than ‘experience’.
Youth- giving their age and exposure to technology and world around with a zeal to learn, are always in a space to bring new, out-of-the-box ideas to the table, youth problem solving approach is daring and ingenious given the pliability of ideas and dogmas. They also expected to be more in touch with the aspiration of a ‘young’ nation.
Youth participation in politics will serve as double-edged sword. There can be ill of impulsive decisions, taking things at face value, and a lack of determined strong, vision approach at times. Hence, there is need to be a balanced ratio of old and young. But unfortunately in our country it is highly skewed towards the former end. Hence, more participation of a well-informed enlightened youth would always help.
For government to be responsible to the people (youth), the youth must practically own their government. But as it stands, the youth have little claim over politician that won election on the basis of billion-naira contest, instead of a contest of ideas. Youth must follow the trend in politics with keen attention; the process of constituting the core of political leadership (Part participation, Delegates, Party Exco and Primary Election Process) must ensure that the whole population has the equal amount of advantage.
The Bigger Question is ‘How’?
I think one can accept a great deal of good management from the younger leadership. In my opinion they are likely to view the situation with the clearer perspective and a more educated outlook. Education plays much important role here. I think now the time has been changed a lot, but the outlook of the older generation is still remaining the same so it has to be changed. The younger leader leaders have a lot of potential to hold and manage the upcoming generation.
“Youths, the Leaders of Tomorrow,” as very important at this point of our history when our youths hardly celebrate cherished societal values. Let it be quickly pointed out that that every nation needs its youth. The reasons are that youths possess boundless energy, enthusiasm and revolutionary thoughts among others and are, therefore, vibrant actors of social change. It is for these reasons that they are also branded as “partners of today.” I like to tell our youths that it is better to learn how to be effective partners today so that they can truly assume the role of effective leaders tomorrow.
In our national history, youths who subjected themselves to leadership mentorship rose to be truly leaders of the nation. We can mention Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa and Earnest Ikoli, among others who fought for Nigerian independence by using skills they had acquired.
In Africa and around the world, a few examples: “Woon King Chai successfully campaigned to change a 30-year-old law in Malaysia that prohibited students from having a political voice.” Sweta Mangal “co-founded a service that saved lives in India through coordinating a fleet of emergency rapid response vehicles.” They were both in their 20s. The likes of Nelson Mandela of Africa, as youths, were keen students and movers of their society egged on to great heights by amazing strength of character.
The time is now
#SUPPORT NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN
OMONIJO VCTOR KELVIN (OVK)
Advocate for #NotTooYoungtoRun