2023: Memo to APC, PDP on Youths Inclusion, By Ibraheem Abdullateef
On the eventful Boxing Day 2021, the Nigerian media was awash with my statement of appeal to the two biggest political parties in Nigeria, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the review of nomination form fees for office seekers under 35 years old in the 2023 elections, to deepen inclusion, and strengthen national democracy. 43 days later, none of these parties have made any official statement on the matter. We must sustain the tempo until the cause is achieved.
The review of nomination form fees by both APC and PDP is urgent to strengthen our democracy, encourage diversity, and foster youths’ inclusion in politics and leadership. It is absolutely unhealthy socially, economically, and politically to retain the same table used in 2019 for the 2023 elections.
In the 2019 elections, the gubernatorial expression of interest and nomination form sold for N1 million and N20 million respectively in the PDP.
Reports also show that PDP charged N12 million for both the expression of interest and nomination form for the Office of the President, N3.5million for Senate, N2.5million for House of Representatives, and N600,000 for the House of Assembly.
In a similar vein, the gubernatorial expression of interest and nomination form of the ruling APC attracted N2.5 million and N20 million respectively.
It also sold for N5 million the expression of interest and N40 million for nomination form for the Office of President, N7 million for Senate, N3.5million for House of Representatives, and N850,000, for the House of Assembly.
It is most worrisome these political parties retained the fees in the recently held Anambra elections, Ekiti primaries, and others to be conducted in 2022.
While I understand that funds accrued from the sale of forms for elective offices remain a serious source of funding for its operations, the decision of the parties to make young people pay the same fees as more established office seekers is unfair and inconsistent with emerging realities in modern democracies.
As it stands today, the exorbitant fees for nomination forms are mitigating against the legitimate ambition of over 65% of credible, capable young Nigerians to run for elective offices. It also encourages corruption and godfatherism, fuels the orgy for violent, do-or-die electoral practices in the country, while deepening the gap between the rich and have-nots in our society. No party must retain those crazy fees for the 2023 elections.
Data about the 2019 elections released by YIAGA showed that only 8.6% (68 members) of 991 seats in the 36 State House of Assemblies and 6.8% of 360 members of the House of Representatives were under 35 and below.
Although youth candidacy in Nigeria’s elections rose from 21% to 34.2 % (13.5 percent of the candidates vied for the Senate, and 27.4 percent for the House of Representatives), the fact is that buoyed by the Age Reduction Act, Nigeria could have recorded better youths participation under a more favourable party system. What this shows is that the demography which constitutes over 60% of the registered voters in the country has literally had no place in Nigeria’s democracy.
From 1999 to date, the abysmal record of youths participation in politics is a direct effect of our mega parties, PDP and APC’s weak commitment to youths inclusion agenda. In spite of the notable efforts of #NotTooYoungToRun in improving eligibility, affordability of the political system which reduction in fees of nomination encompasses, is key to unlocking the space for young Nigerians. This is why these parties need to make the decision now to show over 80 million Nigerian youths they truly believe in them and are the best platforms for the Nigeria Project.
It obviously no longer sells stories about the non-participation of young people in politics. What is new is the understanding that there has been no space for them in the leadership. From communication to organising, and even campaigns, they have always been involved at different levels. With a lack of deliberate intra-party youths-friendly policies, Nigerian political parties are meant to attract seasonal voters, not future leaders.
May I note that I am aware that the PDP and APC constitutions give women a 50% cut in regular fees for nomination forms and find that applaudable. But I cannot understand in 2022 why the same constitution would make no provision for the youths, especially after the #EndSARS struggle and the global youths renaissance, to encourage young Nigerians’ dreams and passion for the motherland. Nigerian youths deserve a 60% cut in fees.
With our sheer numerical strength and globally acclaimed talent and industry, Nigerian youths do not deserve this strategic exclusion and alienation from democracy from the parties that average Nigerian youths consider as platforms of choice. The message this passes inadvertently is that they are not much wanted and accepted and treasured, as is usually being parroted. And seriously, this is a bad curve on our political values that must be reset immediately by the parties. It is time to match words with actions.
When these constitutions are reviewed, I have absolute faith that they will change the leadership selection positively, becoming instrumental to the clamour to ingest energy and innovation to national leadership. There is no doubt of Nigerian youths’ abilities to lead and make impacts to accelerate the growth and development of the nation.
I appeal earnestly to the leadership of these parties to stop this alienation, review and reduce the fees for the nomination form for office seekers below 35 years of age in the 2023 elections. It is the ultimate way to reciprocate the love and loyalty, maximise the talent and energy of the youths constituency, to promote inclusion, peace and development of Nigeria.
Abdullateef is the Kwara Central Representative in the Nigerian Youth Parliament (NYP) 5th Assembly. He can be reached via email@example.com