Over the past few years, the call for increased youth participation in the Nigerian political space from all quarters has been louder than ever. A number of youths have heeded this call, but considerable success still hasn’t been recorded in this regard. Many will agree with me that there are several factors limiting youth participation in politics. Below are a few of them.
As it became evident this year, the outrageous, abhorrent and exorbitant monetization of the party nominations process by the two major political parties should be a vital source of concern. The PDP nomination forms stood at N40 million for presidential hopefuls, governorship N21 million, Senate N3.5 million, House of Representatives N2.5 million, and State House of Assembly N600,000; while the APC pegged their forms at N100million for presidential hopefuls, governorship N50 million, Senate N20 million, House of Representatives N10million and State House of Assembly N2 million. All these figures are thrown around in a nation ranked as the world’s poverty capital with a minimum wage of a meager 30,000 Naira. It shows a malicious intent on the part of these political parties to bar Nigerians with limited resources and without godfathers to fund their ambitions from holding public office. More particularly, I wonder how these parties expect law-abiding young Nigerians to be able to afford such excessive amounts. This only makes the ‘not too young to run’ law a joke and a mockery of the already marginalized youths.
There also seems to be a generational conflict. The older generation believes they know better and have a right to rule. This, I believe, fuels the systemic disenfranchisement of youths -and of course, women- in the political process. The ruling class, constituted substantially by the older generation, has also infused a patrimonial culture into their already authoritarian leadership style.
Another issue is the lack of political engagement with youths in the various political parties. There is a need for capacity-building programs and effective mechanisms for dialogue and engagement with youths, so as to increase effective youth participation. This is important because if a nation is going to have leaders willing to make room for youth involvement in governance it must start from the political parties as they are the ones who field said leaders for elections.
Many young people register to vote where they school. It is no surprise that most people turn 18 while in the university. Therefore, when they register to vote, there is a high likelihood that they do it close to their university. Unfortunately, all universities are closed during elections which then disenfranchises young people from voting where they live. Thankfully, INEC has created an avenue where young people can transfer their polling unit, but it is a cumbersome and tiresome process that further discourages young people from taking the option.
These issues evidently affect youth participation from both an electorate and a candidate perspective. Therefore, we the youths need to clamour for a less cumbersome and more seamless electoral process.
What other issues, do you feel affect youth participation in politics?