In an effort to bolster youth participation in politics, a Lagos-based political youth movement has proposed that every political party in Nigeria grant 50 percent of its elective positions to young party members.
The youth movement, Youth Next, is promoting “political revolution” in Nigeria. It lamented that over 60 percent of eligible voters in the country are youths, yet less than 5 percent of them are actively involved in policymaking in the country.
Moremi Ojudu, one of the coordinators of Youth Next, bemoaned the exclusion of youths from aspiring to become presidents and governors in Nigeria and further lamented that this is backed by the constitution of the country in section 65 (1a) and (1b) as well as sections 177(b) and 187(2).
“Clearly, youth are excluded from contesting for the offices of President, Vice-President, Governor, Deputy Governor and Senate, subject to the legal requirements for these offices. These requirements leave only a small margin for the participation of those who have attained the maximum age of 35 years in the youth bracket. Therefore, only the House of Representatives and State Assembly positions allow for youth candidacy,” she explained.
“We believe political participation becomes more meaningful when youths are able to express their preferences, aggregate their interests, and influence public officials and public policy, using avenues and opportunities in the political system towards helping to maintain government accountability and demanding government transparency and responsiveness.”
Highlighting some impediments to youth participation in politics, the movement pointed to financial resources as a key factor stifling youth involvement in politics.
“As a point of call, we understand that other factors such as financial resources, god-fatherism, etc., hinder youth participation, and such, we advocate that all political parties in Nigeria develop and adopt an affirmative action policy conceding 50 percent of elective positions on their platforms to youth. We believe this will address the unwritten odds that are against youth candidature,” the organizer said.
She enjoined all political parties in the country to enable a favorable playing ground for youths in order to give youths more opportunities not in only voting, but policymaking.
“Our immediate call to action is on the upcoming local government elections in Lagos State. We admonish all political parties involved to heed to our plight and put forward young and vibrant candidates who are of good character and pedigree,” the group said.