Youths in Politics: The extent of their political participation, by Saratu Abubakar

NEWS DIGEST – I don’t remember the exact place I was when the “Not Too Young To Run” bill was passed in 2018 but I remember following the process from the beginning in 2016 when it was proposed in the Nigerian National Assembly.

It is one of the important achievements of this government.

The Not Too Young To Run is a parliamentary act that proposed the alteration in sections 65, 106, 131, and 177 of the Nigerian Constitution. It reduced the age of those allowed to contest for a political post in Nigeria, from 30 years old to 25 years old for the House of
Representatives, from 35 years old to 30-years for the Senate and Gubernatorial seat, and from 40 to 35 for the presidency.

Prior to the passing of the bill, the Nigerian youth were only involved in party politics, including the running of parties, grassroots participation, and party youth leadership.

As we are getting ready for the polls scheduled for the first quarter of 2023, a lot of young
people are actively involved in politics. Some won their seats at the primaries and are actively campaigning. While others are serving in different capacities with those that have their names on the ballot box.

To be honest, what I find more interesting is the turnover of that participation. Would having a young person in a position make things better? Does that guarantee better for the citizens or age and experience would always take a lead?

Is the youth participation productive or are we just recycling the same minds but in younger bodies?

Statistically, a report was released that the Nigerian youths are leading in terms of the number of Permanent Voters Cards registered. That information alone seems like a glimmer of hope. It means more people, especially the supposed leaders of tomorrow are taking charge of their future.

During the period the Independent National Electoral Commission allocated for PVC
registration, every day on social media, I came across a lot of posts from various youths
advocating for people to ensure they get their PVCs.

On the other hand, although so many people have registered, INEC has put out information
about Nigerians not collecting their PVCs. That makes the whole registration process

And that is synonymous with youth involvement in politics if they are not sensitised. I am sure the goal of the pioneers of the Not Too Young To Run was for active and productive youth participation in politics, not passive, not vicious, and definitely not counterproductive.

As important as it is to have the youth contesting for seats and even winning their seats, it is very vital they do what is expected of them. It is not enough to just be a young person, what are their plans? How do they want to do things differently? Would their constituency benefit from them, would the people enjoy the advantage of having a representative in the legislative?

These questions and expectations should be the pedestal we put all candidates on, irrespective of their ages. When you see yourself in someone, it is easy to assume they have similar goals and intentions as you but we all know assumptions are not always right.

Therefore, it will be unfortunate if you don’t ask questions and just give that young leader a bypass because he/she shares the same age group as you.

The goal for 2023 seems to be a better Nigeria, a Nigeria for all, therefore, the right man for the job goes beyond being your age-mate, your tribe man, or your religious partner. If we carry such sentiments to the polls, I am afraid, it will be a cycle of the same minds in younger bodies. It will also defeat the whole purpose of youth participation.