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2019: INEC Timetable and The Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill, By Moshood Isah

By News Express on 25/01/2018

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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. 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 elections 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 timetable, have been slated for between August 18, 2018 and October 7, 2018. This basically means that young Nigerians have barely 10 months push for the #NotTooYoungToRun bill, make up our minds to run for political office, and pull through the political parties’ bottleneck.

Kudos to the National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives) which has played its 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 it’s over a month since the 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 elections. More so, the independent candidacy is another bill on the table of the states’ houses of assembly, which is also as important as the age reduction bill. The independent candidacy bill, if passed also, will help young politicians to completely evade the intrigues in political party politics.

It’s cheering to know that the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign, a citizen-led movement driven  by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), has been embraced beyond just Nigeria, but to sub-Sahara Africa region and other parts of the world. The movement, along with other youth friendly organisations, 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 organisations, 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 actualise 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 political 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. A peep into the #ReadyToRun website (www.readytorunng.org) reveals a whole lot: citizens are not only taking a giant stride towards leadership, but also youths have been educated and sensitised 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 sanitise 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 specialised 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 utilise 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, mobilised and supported, in a bid to eliminate any form of phobia and apprehension when it comes to contesting and winning elections. This also comes with training opportunities to build leadership and organisational capacity.

Come 2019, young Nigerians are ReadyToRun!

Moshood Isah is Media Officer of Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement.

Source News Express

Posted 25/01/2018 09:34:25 AM

 

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