Opinion: #NotTooYoungToRun | The Challenges of a Political Environment for the Young Nigerian

by Jude Feranmi

I once attended an event in the National Assembly on the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill and the #YesWeCan Bill (this is actually also a bill on youth inclusion) hosted by Hon Raphael Igbokwe. Of all the speeches that were given on this day, I have never seemed to forget the words of Rt Hon Lasun Yusuf.

Rt Hon Lasun Yusuf was representing the Speaker of the House and also in his own capacity as the Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee in the lower chambers. His own narrative as interpreted by me was simple – Stay on the queue.

He mentioned the children of eminent persons who are currently members of the house, the Lam Adesinas amongst others who he said were already portraying the #NotTooYoungToRun spirit. He had analysed and rightly so, how the days of the military regime snatched away their own opportunities to contribute to governance at their youth and then necessitated the age clause in the 1999 constitution which was non-existent in the 1979 constitution.

It then occurred to me in that moment that I had always defended the spirit and the underlying philosophy of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill without actually listening to the arguments of the other young Nigerians who didn’t want the bill, at least not now.

Marvins Abhulimen is one of such young people who disagrees that what we need is a bill that reduces the age of those who can contest for certain offices and his argument is always also simple. Why do we think that it’s not the children of those who are currently in power that will be able to make use of the opportunity that opens up once the bill is passed?

With access to so much wealth and the political structure that their fathers and mothers currently engage, how would we be able to ensure that our generation is actually not just represented but actually looked out for when policies are being made? When actions that might jeopardise that future that we all are trying to save from being mortgaged are being taken, can we still be confident that the children of the same class of Nigerians who spent trillions of naira and scores of years on electricity all to no avail will not dance to the tune of their parents?

If we choose to shift our eyes, consciously or unconsciously from this impending phenomenon, we might find ourselves worse off as a country than we currently are. We must, therefore, start to set as part of our goals as a generation, the establishment of political mechanisms that ensure that the young Nigerians who will be able to make use of these opportunities are not just the ones whose parents were the lords over the parents of the rest of us.

This means we have to start challenging the existing patronage walls that exist in our political parties against youth participation where the buck stops. The slander that we are no longer mature enough for some certain positions even at the executive level within the party must stop. The idea that the role of the youth leader is set aside for youths within a political party should now be set aside. Young people need to start taking up roles within the party system outside the Youth Leader Roles.

The challenges that young people face on the path to running for office are enormous and vary from party to party. We must, however, identify what these challenges are and seek solutions if we must rise as a generation.

If you are an avid reader of this series, I apologise for the missed episodes. For the time being, these challenges to actually running for office by young people will be the focus going forward.

May God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Jude ‘Feranmi

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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