Editor's note: Ibrahim Faruk, a senior program officer with YIAGA Africa and a member of the Not Too Young To Run Movement, writes on recent happenings in the Nigerian political circles and its implication for youth candidacy ahead of the 2019 general elections.
As preparations for the 2019 general elections kick off, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on 9 July 2018 formed a coalition with 38 other political parties in the country named the Coalition of United Political Party (CUPP). The coalition was sealed with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the leaders of the parties, in a bid to work together towards winning the 2019 presidential elections. The coalition also agreed to mobilize support for consensus candidates at the centre, states, and the legislative arm of government.
While the emergence of the Coalition of Political Party (CUPP) provides an opportunity to support young candidates in the 2019 elections it should not present a potential threat to the gains that have been achieved with the passage of the age reduction/Not Too Young To Run law.
Following the signing of the Not Too Young To Run bill into law, the national publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan urged Nigerian youths to immediately take advantage of the new law and commended the Not Too Young To Run Movement for their resilience towards ensuring younger Nigerians can actively participate in elective positions in governance at all levels.
Similarly, young men and women in political parties now have the responsibility to hold the leadership of their parties accountable to the public commitments made by members of the CUPP towards ensuring youth inclusion and match words with actions as the 2019 elections present an opportunity for young people to assert their power not only as voters or campaign merchants but also as qualified electoral candidates.
In even a more cheering news, the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomole recently stated that the party will adopt the process of direct primary to choose its governorship candidate for the Osun governorship election. The adoption of the direct primary, according to Oshiomole is to, ‘ensure popular participation and deepen democracy.’ This is laudable and as a matter of fact, the gains achieved with the passage of the Not Too Young To Run law would be consolidated with the adoption of direct primary by all 68 currently registered political parties to inclusion of all interests within the party.
The youth vote remains the most critical bloc in the 2019 elections and political parties seeking to win elections in the spirit of inclusion, participation and deepening democracy must reserve party tickets for youth aspirants; uphold internal party democracy to safeguard the emergence of more youth candidates and most importantly commit to non-violent elections.
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The Not Too Young To Run movement which remains a non-partisan and citizen-led movement of citizens dedicated to the defense of democracy and nation building and will not be transiting into a political party, is however committed to inspiring and supporting more youth candidates with content and character to run for office through its Ready To Run initiative and other interventions aimed at promoting youth candidacy in the 2019 elections.
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