One of the biggest happenings that shaped the year 2020 is the nationwide EndSARS protest that rocked Nigeria in October 2020. Arguably, Nigeria is yet to recover from the ruins of the protest. However, many hoped that the protest would gear the youths in the country to demand more political positions in the 2023 general elections.
Two years before the EndSARS protest, President Muhammadu Buhari, in May 2018 signed into law the “Not Too Young To Run” bill to encourage the youths to aspire to high offices in the governance of the country. The Nigerian constitution refers to persons between the ages 18 to 35 as youths howbeit youth is about not only age, but the strength, tenacity, vigour, and enthusiasm to achieve things.
Basically, the law relaxed some of the stringent provisions of Sections 65, 106, 131, and 177 of the 1999 Constitution that concern requirements for occupying elective positions in the country. It reduced the age qualification for president from 40 to 30; governor from 35 to 30; senator from 35 to 30; House of Representatives membership from 30 to 25 and for House of Assembly membership from 30 to 25.
Many young Nigerians took advantage of the law to contest for elective positions during the 2019 general election. Howbeit, the youth’s interest was not enough. According to the results, the separation of the youths affected their performance at the 2019 general elections.
Poor performance and the challenges facing the youths
After the poor performance, young candidates and youths generally blamed the unfortunate performance on a number of factors, including lack of strong party structure at the grassroots and weak financial muscle to successfully prosecute their campaigns.
The Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 recently passed by the National Assembly added more salt to the injury to the problem of poor financing.
Beyond the No Too Young To Run Act, the Electoral Act is strong enough to cripple the youths and rob them of their interest in the 2023 general elections.
Online PVC registration
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) commenced online voter registration on 28 June to curb the stress people go through in registering for their Permanent Voter’s Card.
In the first month, INEC recorded 1,006,661 registrants, of which 740,063 are Nigerian youths between the ages of 18 and 34. This translates to 73.5 per cent.
Beyond PVC registration
The PVC registration ahead of the 2023 general election is a great move. Beyond PVC registration, youths should get involved more in the governance. The youths should come out as one come 2023.
Youths should avoid selling votes and resist the urge to be used as a political thug during the election.
For a fact, one of the greatest assets a society can possess is the youth. Sadly, the country we are currently intertwined with, Nigeria, the aged leaders on various seats of power believe nation-building is their exclusive domain. This is evident in the little opportunities the youth struggle to get and the promise to be the leaders of tomorrow that never comes.
It is expedient that we show that the youths also take part in their misfortune. Youths have embraced the wrong primacy of the ‘old leaders’ in power, we prefer to engage in violence. Youths are used as political thugs, some engage in armed robbery and other antisocial behaviours.
The youths clinch the bad side of the leaders of today, this is evident in the violence during students’ electoral process and embezzlement of students’ union funds. Youths fight for only their very own good, where they should be craving for the development of society.
The hallmark of the present government is ‘change’. The youths must be agents of change. The change we expect from the leaders should start from us. In the immortal words of Mahatma Gandhi, he said, “be the change you wish to see in the world”. The change starts from resisting corruption and violence in the country, and any action that might take away our future.
For the labour of our heroes past not to be in vain, the youth must be selfless and sacrificial to the country. The collective development of the people living in peace and harmony as a nation must be a burning desire. The youth must portray moral values and worthy character in all of their dealings.
If we take a good look at history, the youth are not too young to lead and develop this nation. The youth must therefore seek and desire opportunities to develop the nation. As a building block in nation-building, the youth have a great role to play, we are in this together.