The Nigerian Youth Participation In Politics And Governance; A Reflection On Not Too Young To Run Law
Promoting youth representation in politics is a growing global priority. To promote youth leadership and more inclusive politics, youth organizations in Nigeria mobilized successfully for a constitutional reform to lower the eligibility age to run for political office (Not too Young to Run). The research work focuses on the Nigerian Youth Participation in Politics and Governance: A Reflection on not too young to run law. The research applied both primary and secondary data to analyze the problems. In this research work, we assess whether the Signing of Not too young to Run law as lead to higher level of youth participation in 2019 general elections. We find out that there was a little increase in the percentage of youth aspirants in 2019 general elections and the percentage of youths occupying elective and appointed offices in comparison with 2019 general elections. The research work recommended that there should be a strong agent of socialization, the youths should form coalition of political parties, there should be certain percentage of Youth candidates required from any political party and Government should provide an enabling environment for the youths to participate in Nigeria politics.
1.1 Background To The Study
Enhancing opportunities for young people to participate in politics has become a growing global priority, with organizations like the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the United Nations (UN) seeking to collect data and develop strategies to elect a larger share of young people to national parliaments. One recommendation puts forward by the IPU (2016: 16) is to align the ages at which citizens may vote in elections and run for political office. In order to respond to the needs of young people, and to guarantee that their basic human rights are recognized and enforced, young people’s active and meaningful participation in their societies and in democratic practices and processes is of crucial importance Meaningful youth participation and leadership require that young people and young people-led organizations have opportunities, capacities, and benefit from an enabling environment and relevant evidence- based programmes and policies at all levels. Realizing young people’s right to participate and be included in democratic processes and practices is also vital to ensure the achievement of internationally agreed development goals and to refresh the development agenda.
Today the global campaign Not Too Young to Run was launched at the first United Nations Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law taking place at United Nations Geneva. The campaign, launched by a partnership consisting of the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the European Youth Forum (EYF) and the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), aims to elevate the promotion of young people’s right to run for public office and address the wide-spread issue of age discrimination.
Youth constitute a fifth of the World’s population. Meanwhile, their participation in the political discourses is very limited. Globally, the average age of parliamentarians is 53 (Bruter and Harrison 2009). The minimum age for competing to the parliamentary candidacy is 25 years. This puts into question the inclusion of young peoples in the political spheres and processes. The youth have been recognized for their creative skills and innovative ideas. A critical look at the major political changes and dynamism shows that youth are at the center of the fulcrum. They mostly serve as catalysts for the changes of undemocratic governments and their political systems. The 2011/2012 Arab uprising is case in point. However, due to unfavorable legal architectures, low economic conditions and different discriminatory practices, their contributions and roles in the political arenas were extremely limited. As a result, their involvement in the political process is informal and not yet well recorded. Given the fact that Africa is young in democracy and its political institutions are not well established, youth are excluded from important decision-making processes. Most often than not, governments and policy makers in Africa are reluctant to include youth in the formal political systems. Nowadays, however; a marginal improvement has been shown in Africa, partly because of the rising consciousness of states and the external pressures including globalization and democratizations, which give due emphasis for the youth participation in the political and economic spheres of influences. Scholars pointed out that this could be a response to their marginalization and social and economic exclusions. Recent reports of the World Bank and UNDP indicated that the youth accounts for more than seventy percent of the Africa’s population. Yet, regardless of their numerical importance and the historical relevance throughout the region, they have been neglected from political arenas. As a result of lack of political participation of youth within the continent, they are disorganized, unemployed, and vulnerable to radical ideas such that leading demonstrations against government decisions. This has been seen in Sierra Leone, where the disillusioned and unemployed youth had played a great role in establishing the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and in Rwanda where the youth were at the center in the genocidal.
In line with this logic, a movement of young people in Nigeria launched a campaign in 2016 to reduce the age limit to stand as political candidates conceived by YIAGA Africa, a youth-based civil society Organization seeking to promote good governance and youth political participation, the campaign soon encompassed more than100 youth organizations and became known by its hashtag #NotTooYoungToRun. Inspired by this example, in late 2016 the UN Youth Envoy launched a global Not Too Young to Run campaigning partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the IPU, YIAGA, and the European Youth Forum. More than half of Nigeria’s estimated 182 million populations is under 30 years of age. The country’s median age is just 18, according to the United Nations, but politics is dominated by older politicians. All civilian heads of government were more than 50 years old before they were elected. Nearly two decades after the advent of civilian rule, former military leaders retained a strong influence over politics. Historically before civilian rule, most of the military heads of state were between the ages of 20 and 45, that is the military regime or era in Nigeria was largely dominated by the youth, ironically after the advent of democracy the same set of military leaders has taken over Nigeria political stage with the youth being marginalized. The Not Too Young To Run bill in Nigeria aimed to amend sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the Nigerian constitution to reduce the eligibility age for the Houses of Assembly and House of Representatives from 30 to 25 years old, the Senate and Governorship from 35 to 30 years old, and the office of the President from 40 to 35years old. Sponsored by allies in the House of Representatives and the Senate, the bill passed both houses of parliament in July 2017.The proposed amendment was then presented to the 36 Houses of Assembly of the Nigerian states, 33 of which approved the bill (far exceeding the 24 states required for passage). In April 2018, the Senate sent the bill to the President for approval, who signed it –after further lobbying by youth organizations – into law on 31 May2018. The final version reduced the age to run for Presidency, the House of Representatives and the state Houses of Assembly, but retained the existing age qualifications for Governors and Senators. After the bill’s passage, the Not Too Young To Run campaign convened a press conference and declared that it marked “the beginning of a new era” in Nigerian politics. They argued that the reform would promote democratic development, deepen intergenerational dialogue and learning, reduce political violence and instability, and enhance competitive politics. They also emphasized the positive impact on the political rights of young people, pointing out that youth under the age of 35 formed 65% of the population and 53% of registered voters. They thanked all the elected officials who voted in favour of the bill, thereby demonstrating “unparalleled belief in youth leadership and inclusive politics” and “putting Nigeria on the global map as a country fully invested in meeting the needs of its youth”. They urged the “political class” – “if you want the youth vote” – to take active steps within their political parties to support the emergence of more young candidates (NotTooYoungToRun 2018).
Despite these arguments, it is not clear whether lower eligibility ages will necessarily lead to higher levels of youth representation. On the one hand, reforms may stimulate latent political ambition among youth, leading them to begin preparing political campaigns at earlier ages than they might have done prior to the legislative change. On the other hand, the new rules are permissive, not prescriptive: they allow younger people to come forward as aspirants for political office, but do not require political parties to actually nominate greater numbers of young people as political candidates. Given that young people around the world tend to eschew formal means of political participation, like voting and running for office, enacting such reforms may in fact have no effect on their political ambitions. This research therefore tends to examine the impact of the Not too Young to rule Law on Nigeria’s Youth Participation in politics in 2019 general election.
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
The problem which this research can identify are epidemic in the political system of today, there are many problems but the under listed problems are very epidemic and important to the subject matter. The following are therefore the problem of youth participation in Nigeria politics:
- Patriarchal and chauvinistic legacy
- Monetary politics and vote buying
- Inexperience and Inferiority complex or weak institutions
The patriarchal and chauvinistic system of Nigeria politics is the major cause of youth participation in politics, where some old, experienced politicians keep dominating the political system without regards to the youths. This system has therefore brought a low or no impact of the Not too Young to Rule law in the 2019 general election, despite the sinning of Not too young to rule bill into law, according to YIAGA (2019) 1,515 youth candidates representing 23% of all candidates contested for House of Assembly, 10 candidates or 14% of the presidential candidates were aged between 35-40 years, 11 or 15% vied for Vice Presidential seat were aged between 35-40 years, 27.4% for House of Representatives are youths, less than 9.8% vied for Governorship position, 41.8% vied for state House of Assembly.
The problem of monetary politics in Nigeria politics is the most important problem that has eaten down into Nigeria politics, thereby sending the youth who are either unemployed or with little income out of the political environment. The cost to run politics in Nigeria is extremely high and it has turn to business where by the youth who intend to participate in politics sell their mandate out because they are in no way compared to the political elites. An ordinary youth with just a B.Sc. and a little paid job cannot run politics because the cost of party nomination form is high and not favorable for the youth. E.g APC Presidential interest form was 5m for 2019 general election. It is therefore not viable for youth to participate in politics due to huge amount of money involved in politics. The issues of vote buying in Nigeria election is majorly an enterprising nature of politics where by those in political system tend to buy peoples mandate just to win election. The monetary issues as curb the hands of the youth in participating in politics because even after getting the necessary forms they tend to go extra miles to buy peoples mandate and they therefore prefer to vote than to be voted, for the youth are always at the receiving ends and always willing to even sell their vote and not to participate in Representative Democracy as they don’t have the money to compete against such politicians. Vote buying is the enterprising nature of Nigeria politics and has therefore hinder the youths in participating in politics.
The problem of Inferiority complex and inexperience is one of the epidemic problem of Nigeria politics that has hinder youth participation in Nigeria politics, due to the fact that the institution of Nigeria that develops human capital is weak we therefore have poor agent of socialization or institutions, many youth are scared to participate in politics. It has been made to believe that politics are for the old men and some groups in the society and that was why many tend not involve themselves into politics, many believe politics is for some certain group in the society and that is why they failed to participate in politics, because they fill inferior to acclaimed political group. The nature to which the youth are being socialized by the agent of socialization, from parents to peer group to school to religion institution and mass media gives a certain believe that politics can only be carry out either by the old or selected few. Some religious group believe that politics are not meant for them, they assert that politics is meant for some religion or better still some inferior religion.
This belief has therefore, sent feelings of inferiority to the youth and that is why they are scared to partake in politics. The discussions on the outlined problems in the study have made students, analyst, and researchers of Nigeria politics to establish questions like “how democratic is Nigeria’s Democracy?” Thus, it is on this note that this research intends to investigate, to an extent, the invalidities and impact of the Not too young to rule law on youth participation in politics in 2019 general election.
1.3 Research Questions
For the purpose of this research work, relevant research questions have been outlined to serve as a direction, guide and articulation of the research findings or work. However, these questions focus more on the major problems to be investigated and could possibly lead to other minor research questions in subsequent research works. The following research questions will be adopted by this study:
- What is the reason behind the formulation of Not too young to rule
- What is the impact of Not too young to rule law on Nigerian youth participation in politics?
- What are the challenges confronting youth participation in Nigerian politics?
- What is the level of youth marginalization in political participation in Nigeria?
1.4 Objectives Of The Study
The general objective of the study is to evaluate and investigate the impact of Not too young to Rule Law on Nigeria’s youth participation in politics in 2019 General Election. In summary, the following are the objective adopted by this research:
- To understand the reasons for the formation of Not too young to rule.
- To examine the impact of Not too young to rule law on Nigeria’s youth in Nigeria politics in 2019 general election.
- To identify the challenges to youth participation in Nigeria politics.
- To ascertain the level of youth marginalization in political participation in Nigeria.
1.5 Research Hypotheses
Research hypotheses refer to the basic that are made to give directions to a particular research (Ukana, 1988). To aid the completion of the study; the following research hypotheses is hereby formulated in this study;
- H0: Signing of Not too young to run bill increased the percentage and awareness of youth participation in Nigeria politics.
H1: Signing of Not too young to run bill did not increase the percentage and awareness of youth participation in Nigeria politics.
- H0: There is relationship between Youth participation in Nigeria politics and Money.
H1: There is no relationship between Youth participation in Nigeria politics and money.
- H0: Political godfathers determine the chances of any Youth candidates in Nigeria politics.
H1: Political godfathers do not determine the chances of any Youth candidates in Nigeria politics.
- H0: The Not too young to run is a positive impact on Nigeria’s youth political participation in 2019 general election.
H1: The Not too young to run is a negative impact on Nigeria’s youth political participation in 2019 general election.
1.6 Significant Of The Study
Every research work is aimed at critically looking at a project or work with the sole aim of benefiting the researcher, the reader or both. This work is significant because it will add to the body of existing literatures, journals, overtures and brochure that demonstrates the importance of the solution to most challenges of Nigeria politics and solution to help the youth towards the political system.
It serves as reference materials to students, scholars, and research analyst of Nigeria politics, who have the interest further on this topic. This research will also help to change the way people think about the status of Nigeria as the ‘giant of Africa’ which play a major role in continental, developmental operation, politically, economically, security wise, among others and bring careless of its national issues. Many Nigerians who are boastful of Nigerian philanthropic operations in African without considering its impact on the country and its political system will also find this as an eye opener. It will also change the mindset of some institution in the society on politics, most especially the family and religious groups. In summary:
- It will bring to limelight the position of the youth in Nigeria politics.
- It will give room for careful scrutiny of the problems facing the Nigeria youths in politics
- This work will enable the reader have in debt understanding of the percentage of youths in 2019 general election.
- It will assist other researchers to carry out further research on the subject matter.
5.0 Conclusion And Recommendations
The youth dividend in Nigeria is significant. Unfortunately, the attention given to it is considerably limited. This study attest that if the young population in Nigeria is utilized properly, it would be a potential resource to uplift the continent and to see the Nigeria everybody wants and as well an ideal democracy. Unless and otherwise, as it was experienced during the 2011/12 Arab uprising and popular demonstration, the youth of Africa would become a threat for any governments that exclude the issues of youth participation in her political system. So, youth inclusion in the political aspects of Nigeria is very critical in a sense that it is a great machinery to reinvent the governance structure of Nigeria. Therefore, creating an enabling and equitable environment for youth in Nigeria politics is unquestionable.
As the findings of the study revealed that the youth in Nigeria are largely excluded from the political discourse of the country. Thus, to bring youth into the political floras of Nigeria and to utilize their immense potential, the following recommendations are provided. From the global to the national and local levels, the youth-related issues should be the priority areas. Though policy adoptions are important steps towards youth inclusions, their implementations are of paramount importance. Therefore, in every developmental agenda, youth should place in the forefront. In effect, it could be possible to utilize the full capacity of these politically and economically active segments of the population.
Nigeria and individual states have to involve youth in all levels and areas of policy making and developmental plans. For doing so, a national disaggregated data about the youth and their participation is highly required. If Nigeria can do that, it will be able to make informed and evidence-based decisions.
One of the findings of the study shows that young Nigerians are largely marginalized from political processes and most of them feel hopelessness about their futures and their inclusion in various decision-making processes. They thought that violence could be a viable solution to get what they lost because of irresponsible governments. Therefore, it is an important message for Nigerian governments to be aware of that if they continue as usual, they will confront with the young people who is revolting and restless. The Arab revolt was a good example for this. Therefore, youth participation and representation from local to national and international level is a timely and long-lasting solution.
This research work shows that the reason why the not too young to run bill formulated and signed is to include the youths at the decision making of Nigeria politics. Therefore, there should be more trainings, symposium, social media enlighten posts on the reasons why the bill was formulated and as well to increase the awareness of the youth in Nigeria politics. If the youths must be at the for a of Nigeria politics, they must as well know the problems and as well provide lasting solution to such problem.
The impact of Not too young to rule law on Nigerian youth participation in politics cannot be over emphasize. The law as increased the awareness of youths to Nigeria politics and as well increased the percentage of youths into elected offices. Also, they are different records of how some youths have been appointed into offices by the government. The impact of not too young to run therefore must be known to the public, those who benefited from it should serve as testimonies to others and as well bring about innovative ideas that can develop Nigeria as a whole.
The challenges confronting youth participation in Nigerian politics in Nigeria politics includes; god fatherism, monetary politics, inferiority complex and inexperience has been a major stumbling block to Nigeria youths. There should be a policy to reduce and regulate the price of nomination forms and well to include youth aspirant as nominees of any political party. Youths should as well enroll for value leadership concept in as to reduce the inferiority complex and as well give them experience on ways to serve as a leader.
The level to which the youths are being marginalized was very high, not until the introduction of not too young to run law. Youth should therefore create opportunities for themselves by creating an awareness of their competency. The youth should create a table to eat which will force the old to dine with them. The youth should not wait for the old to finish eating before taking charge. The emerge youths in offices should make a great use of the opportunity by bringing in innovative ideas that will help develop the society.
The summary of recommendation of the study are:
- Government should give an enabling environment for the youths to participate in politics by appointing the youths into offices and as well electoral offices.
- The youths should be more organized by forming one political party so as to reach a consensus interests and bring about success in any elective post vied for.
- The youths should enrol for leadership coaching and institutions so as to learn some leadership skills needed.
- The religious institution and family should serve a good agent of socialization to the youths. This will as well change youths mind sets and reduce the level of inferiority complex.
- The youths should also enrol for voluntary activities in their society, this will increase their familiarity about the societal problems and ay to solve them.
- The electoral act should mandate certain percentage of youth aspirant from all registered political parties.
- INEC should regulate the cost of Nomination forms within the registered political parties.
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