The Committee of Youth Mobilization and Sensitization (CYMS) has urged a greater participation, involvement and engagement of youths in the 2023 general elections. The Director-General of the association, Mr. Obinna Nwaka, made this call during the stakeholders’ conference organized ahead of the 2023 general election on September 22, 2022, in Abuja. Nwaka said that the organization was, indeed, excited with the overall turnout of Nigerians, especially the youth during the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise, which was recently concluded by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He praised the peaceful and secured environment during the exercise, which was made possible with the support of security agencies and the awareness by stakeholders like traditional rulers, religious leaders and the entertainment industry among others. He said the voter registration exercise recorded the highest participation and acceptability since the Fourth Republic began despite the insecurity in some parts of the country. He added it was important to acknowledge that youths were indispensable in the electoral process.
Youth political apathy had steadily ebbed until for next year’s elections.
Generally, the Nigerian youth have been largely apolitical since the return of democracy in 1999. This is not because they didn’t want to engage or participate in politics. It is due to some reasons. One of them is the age that a political candidate must have attained before contesting for any position. For the position of the president, it was well over 40 years of age (before President Muhammadu Buhari signed a bill to reduce it). Another reason is the lowered level of education that a candidate must have had before contesting. The positions of President and Governor in the country only require a candidate to have sit the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
Additionally, the youth had the attitude that nothing concerns them until it affects them personally. The interest that the youth have shown just two years after the EndSARS protest is a testament to the fact that they ignored politics because it didn’t affect them directly. After the protests failed to achieve all of the requests submitted to the government, the youth have decided to seek other means of getting redress. One of such ways is being involved in politics.
Buhari signed the Not Too Young to Run bill to encourage the youth.
Three years after being sworn in as president, Muhammadu Buhari signed the Not Too Young to Run bill to encourage youth to participate in elections and not feel neglected. The law is aimed at relaxing some of the stringent and discriminatory provisions of the constitution. It was to reduce the age qualification for president from 40 to 30; House of Representatives membership from 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly membership from 30 to 25.
However, there was no reduction in the age requirement for the office of senators and governors. This indicates that the age requirement would still be left at 35. The Age Reduction bill, which is popularly known as Not Too Young to Run bill, is a constitutional amendment movement led by young Nigerians. The bill was conceived and pushed by several civil society groups, including YIAGA Africa, starting May 2016. After approval, the movement sought the All Progressives Congress (APC) for reduction in the nomination form fee, as it was N55 million before it was reduced to N45 million. But the movement want the fee to be reduced to encourage involvement of the youth in politics.
Youth are expected to indulge in acts of patriotism.
Mr. Nwaka said that the youth across the country should imbibe peaceful coexistence, religious tolerance and integration during elections. According to him, elections in the country are improving and key players must continue to support the process. He also said that the youth are expected to indulge in acts of patriotism that will project the image of our country. “The act of using the social media to disparage the processes of government should be discouraged, rather there should be participation from them to make the process work. They should equally be law abiding and not take laws into their hands at as it will always result to anarchy”.