YIAGA’s Samson Itodo To Speak At NDI’s 35th Anniversary In Washington D.C

The National Democratic Institute has selected Samson Itodo, YIAGA AFRICA Executive Director and Convener of the Not Too Young To Run movement as one of four young, dynamic, democratic representatives from around the world to speak at the organization’s 35th Anniversary Gala scheduled to hold on December 6, 2018 at The Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

Speaking on the theme ‘Reaffirming Democracy,’ Samson Itodo will share perspectives on how YIAGA AFRICA’s work advances the promise of a truly inclusive democracy in Nigeria and beyond. Mr Itodo represents the continent at this Gala, sharing the stage only with democracy activists from Iran and Russia.

Over 500 guests are expected to attend the gala. They include Members of Congress, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, representatives of the international policy and non-profit communities, as well as the private sector.

 Samson Itodo is also billed to speak at a high-level World Affairs briefing hosted by NDI on December 7, on the 2019 General Elections in Nigeria with the theme ‘Watching Nigeria Vote in 2019: Building Integrity through Election Observation. Other speakers at the event include Dr Pauline Baker, President Emeritus, Fund for Peace, John Tomaszewski (“JT”) Regional Director for Africa, International Republican Institute (IRI), Pat Merloe Senior Associate and Director for Election Programs, NDI. Sophia Moestrup, Deputy Director for Central and West Africa, NDI will moderate the conversation.

Samson will provide critical analysis of issues shaping the 2019 general election in Nigeria as well as the state of preparations of different electoral stakeholders from a civil society perspective. He will share findings from the YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote pre-election observations findings and discuss preparations for the deployment of the Parallel Vote Tabulation in the upcoming 2019 general elections.

 YIAGA AFRICA and the Not Too Young To Run movement congratulate NDI on its 35th-anniversary celebration. NDI has consistently inspired hope in democracy through citizen engagement, credible elections and the defence of human rights. Her commitment to the development of civil society and democratic institutions is unparalleled, and YIAGA AFRICA and the Not Too Young To Run movement celebrate this truly progressive partnership.

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Party Primaries And Maters Arising Ahead Of 2019 Elections, By Idris Mohammed

Recently, the All Progressive Congress (APC) and People Democratic Party (PDP) along with other political parties conducted their primary elections as required by the electoral law and constitution of Nigeria which provides that political parties can conduct primary election or adopt consensus candidate that will compete.

The essence of primary election is to give party members/delegates the opportunity to have their say in the process, test the popularity of the aspirants and to present a candidate to the citizens.

Meanwhile, political parties in the just concluded primary elections adopted one of either direct or indirect method of selecting a candidate. The APC for example used the direct method were registered card-carrying members of the party elect candidates to fly the flag of the party at various positions during elections.

All registered members are expected to be allowed to vote in the primary election to elect the party’s representative in the general elections. The indirect primaries which was adopted by the PDP empowers group of voters called delegates to elect party representatives at various levels of elections. While both methods have its advantages and disadvantages, both parties largely abused the guidelines of the process even as both methods were combined in certain quarters to suit certain interest.

Despite the 10-page rules and regulation produced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to guide the conduct of primary elections in Nigeria, politicians and their political parties are always in the game of manipulating or violating guidelines. Observation reports from YIAGA Africa shows that majority of delegates were less interested in the quality and competency of their candidates, as the process became highly monetized. As a matter of fact, it was reported that delegates openly revealed that they are more interested in knowing the amount to be received than the quality of aspirants. Unfortunately, this trend of monetization of votes cuts across a handful of political parties.

At the moment, there are political upheavals in some states as a result of irregularities in the party primaries. Zamfara for example is a typical example where perceived has led to the ongoing impasse between the APC and INEC. Also, in Kano and Imo state, where the godfathers alleged appointed their son in-laws to be the candidates as Kaduna state continue to endure the tussle between the governor and the senator, with the first lady Aisha Buhari complaining of impunity in Adamawa, while Delta and Oyo states amongst others continue to swim in murky political waters. Automatic tickets and poor internal democracy amongst issues relating to exclusion of youth and women may also be the reason behind the political crisis in majority of the states.

It is shocking that money continue to play major role in the eyes of the delegates than the integrity and quality of the candidate. Media reports alleged that money in foreign currencies was shared in the venue of PDP primary election as the primaries may have been determined by the highest bidder. This will send wrong signal to the forth-coming general elections in 2019.

To make it worse, our political atmosphere is not favourable to young people especially women with the high cost of nomination forms demanded by political parties. This meant most of the young people were seen in the venues of the primaries as either party delegates, mobilisers or ad-hoc staff but not the aspirants. This leaves youth under the umbrella of unpopular political platforms, even though some people are of the opinion that popular candidates can contest in any party platforms but Nigerians are more interested in the party than the candidates.

Delegates should take issue-based politics rather than money in electing the candidates as this will produce competitive and competent leaders with vision and principles that will steer this country out of the present situation to the more promising and progressive atmosphere. It is now left for the Nigerians to vote wisely and vote the candidates with integrity that will take this country to the promised land.

Idris Mohammed is a Zonal Program Officer with YIAGA Africa wrote from Abuja

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Buhari Administration Will Continue To Support Young Nigerians, Says Osinbajo

Young Nigerians should be allowed to run for elective positions in the country, especially as they have demonstrated capacity and competence in the fields of technology, education and other sectors of the economy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, (SAN), has said.

Prof. Osinbajo said this when he received a courtesy visit from the Not-Too-Young-To-Run group today at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Vice President stated that the age of running for public office in Nigeria should not be a major issue for discourse as much as the competence of that individual.

He noted that while it was important for young people to be able to run for public office in the country, it was equally important for them to gain required skills set to be prepared for public service.

While commending young Nigerians for making great strides and playing leadership roles in many organisations and in different areas of the economy, Prof Osinbajo also commended the group for its incredible advocacy aimed at lowering the age of entry into elective positions in Nigeria.

“I must congratulate you for ensuring that you saw it (the push for the bill) to the point that it is now where all that is required is Presidential assent. If you’re old enough to vote, then you should be old enough to run for office,” he said.

He added that the Buhari administration remains committed to supporting young Nigerians in different areas, including in politics.

Prof. Osinbajo further said the leadership provided by young Nigerians was evident in areas like technology, among others, noting that “many organisations have been led by young people, so that’s not entirely new.”

The Vice President urged young Nigerians to thus develop their capacities and skills in different areas so as to contribute to issues of leadership, governance, national development and the economy.

“I think that whatever age a person chooses to run for office shouldn’t matter at all; that for me is a fundamental principle, it really doesn’t matter, even if you’re much younger or older in age, the more important issue, my worry always is so much the preparedness of young people, the preparedness of anyone, young or old.

“It is the same way that if you’re going to be a pilot or medical doctor, you need to get some training, by devoting your time and resources to a call. Even football requires skills.

“Practically in any field, you are required to show competence. And in our developing economy, there is need for us to set the bar much higher, not in terms of age, but in terms of competence. We need to set the bar because we are a developing economy, because we don’t have the time to waste on mediocrity.”

He further urged the group and young Nigerian to lend their voices to campaigns on issues related to anti-corruption and national development as they get required education and build their capacities for public service.

The Vice President said, “I have many young people working with me in this office in different departments, and all of them are highly competent. I also had the opportunity of serving in government when I was 30 years old, I was adviser to the then Attorney General of the Federation and I was teaching at the University then. When I became Attorney General about 12 years later in Lagos State, I was a trained Attorney General; So, I also had working knowledge. We need competence in the same way that we take on issues in our different professions.

“I visited tech hubs in Lagos during the week; incredible work is going on being done by young, people who have devoted their time and resources. So, I would say that if you’re interested in public service, that same kind of commitment can be devoted so when we are discussing very critical issues of economy, governance, we would be able to say this is the work plan. It is incredible what can be achieved but we need to have people who are articulating strong positions on issues.

In his remarks, the Executive Director, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) Africa, who led the delegation, Mr. Samson Itodo, thanked the Vice President for the opportunity and for being a strong advocate of young people in the country.

Itodo noted that Prof. Osinbajo has continued to demonstrate his belief in the potential and talents of young Nigerians in different areas of the economy.

“We are quite excited to see a significant number of young people working in the Office of the Vice President. Your Excellency, it shows to a great extent that there is commitment on your part to engage young people,” Itodo said.

 

In the same vein, a member of the delegation, Ms Bella Ndubuisi, said, “It is exciting to see many young people working with the Vice President’s office,” noting that this development shows the belief of the Buhari administration in the inclusion of young people in the process of governance.

The Not-Too-Young-To-Run campaign is based on a bill before the National Assembly that seeks to alter sections of the 1999 constitution to reduce the age limit for running for elected office in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, as a follow-up to the state burial for the late former vice president, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, a delegation of traditional rulers from Orumba communities in Anambra State, base of the late Ekwueme, paid a courtesy call to the Vice President today at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

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