2019 INEC TIME TABLE AND THE FATE OF NOTTOOYOUNGTORUN BILL – Moshood Isah

It is no more news that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released the schedule of activities for the all-important 2019 General Elections and this basically means there is now a sacrosanct timeline which all electoral activities must fall within. According to INEC, both the presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 16, 2019 while Governorship and state assembly elections will also hold same day on March 2, two weeks after the presidential election.

The dates for the election might not be as important as the timeline when the party primaries and submission of candidates form to INEC will happen as that will ultimately determine what candidate political parties will impose on Nigerians to choose. The conduct of party primaries including resolution of disputes arising from primaries for national and state elections according to the INEC time table has been slated for between August 18 and 2018 to October 7, 2018. This basically means, Young Nigerians have barely 10months push for the #NotTooYoungToRun bill, make up our minds to run for political office and pull through the Political parties’ bottle-neck.

Kudos to the National Assembly; Senate and House of Representatives who have played their own part by passing the #NotTooYoungToRun bill since July Last year. Although it took a bit of time for the bill to get transmitted to the state houses of assemblies but its over a month since the bill has bill has been with the state assemblies. Thus,it’s time to get the final push and see that at least 24 states if not all 36 states pass the age reduction bill along with the independent candidacy bill. This will not only give young Nigerians aspiring for political office the opportunity to run in 2019 but will also give us ample time to navigate the political parties’ hassles and other conundrums ahead of the 2019 General elections. More so, the independent is another bill on the table of the State House of Assemblies which is also as important as the age reduction bill. The independent candidacy bill, if passed also completely help young politicians to completely evade the intrigues in political party politics.

Its cheering to know that the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign, a citizen led movement led by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) has been embraced beyond just Nigeria but to sub-Africa region and other parts of the world. The movement led by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) along with other youth friendly organizations embarked on ferocious advocacy across Nigeria ranging from town-hall meetings, nationwide protests, engagement of lawmakers, dissemination of letters to lawmakers, social media campaigns and every other legitimate means to get the attention of Nigerians and indeed the world.

The massive presence of youth organizations, media outlets including broadcast, print, online and social media discussions on the #NotTooYoungToRun town hall meeting back in December 2017, coupled with unending conversations on the issue goes a long way in showing that young Nigerians only need a little push to actualize that necessity of taking over their own future. The need for inclusion of youths who make up about 70 per cent of African population is a no brainer and should not be up for debate.

Borne out of the NotTooYoungToRun campaign, is the ReadyToRun; a movement dedicated to inspiring young men and women to run for office. This is in a bid to make a statement that young people can demonstrate excellent public leadership with immense capacity to address Africa’s governance challenges. Scrolling through the #ReadyToRun website (www.readytorunng.org) reveals a whole lot that citizens are not only taking a giant stride towards leadership but also youths have been educated and sensitized enough to know the social resources they possess in their repertoire.

Within two months of launching the #ReadyToRun platform, over 160 young men and women have expressed interest to run for political office at various levels. This is no doubt borne out of the urgent need for responsive, accountable and innovative leadership on the African continent. The platform therefore after intense perusal looks like an avenue that will inspire young people to participate in and sanitize politics in Nigeria on the long run. Although, there is a general perception that Nigerian politics tend to be dirty, recent experience has showed that, only the players are dirty which makes preparation for the next phase of political dispensation inevitable.

Political campaigns and winning elections is a complex enterprise which requires specialized skills and knowledge. Undoubtedly, opportunities are aplenty for young people to run for elective office. However, such opportunities must be tapped into by persons with requisite capacity and competence. As we continue to generate knowledge on youth candidacy in Africa via monitoring trends on youth participation in politics, it is important to utilize any opportunity at hand like the #ReadyToRun platform which will profile and promote youth candidates with capacity, integrity, competence and creativity.

With the launch of the #ReadyToRun platform, young candidates can be located, mobilizedand support in a bid to eliminate any form of phobia and apprehension faced by youths when it comes to contesting and winning elections. This also comes with training opportunities via organizations to build leadership and organizing capacity.

2019! Young People are ReadyToRun!!!

Moshood Isah

Media Officer of Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement

(YIAGA)