By Naomi Sharang
Rep. Adeyemi Adaramodu representing Ekiti South West/Ikere/Orun/Ise Federal Constituency has advised youths to compete for power rather than just clamour for it.
Adaramodu, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Youth Development, gave the advice at a policy dialogue titled “Not-Too- Young-To-Run-Act and Manifestos of Political Parties” in Abuja, on Monday.
The event was organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), in collaboration with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).
He said the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Act would only remain a law on paper if not activated by the youth themselves.
“The youth should not expect elders in positions of authority today to teach them how to unseat them or relinquish power to them voluntarily.
“They need to get involved in community development at the grassroots and use their population to change the narrative in the political space.
“If the space is not given to the youth within the folds of the two major political parties, they should, as required, strategise move enmasse into any of the smaller political parties for actualisation of their aspirations,” he said.
Adaramodu further said that the only thing that could stop the unemployment rate going up astronomically was by having good and very sensitive leadership in Nigeria.
“The only way we can put leaders now is through elections.
“Definitely, it must be a deliberate action from the youth that we want to change the narrative, which is by ensuring good people get to offices,” he added.
The Country Representative, WFD, Dr Adebowale Olorunmola, said youth participation and inclusion in democratic governance was essential in improving the ‘not-too-good records in that respect’.
“Presently, it ranks 128 out of 153 countries sampled in the world and 27th out of the 53 countries sampled in Africa,” he added.
On his part, the Director, Democracy and Governance of NILDS, Dr Adewale Aderemi, said that the dialogue on youths was fertile ground for discussion.
Aderemi said that with the nature of Nigeria’s demographics, “it will be tragic to side line about 40 per cent of the population, who are youths, from the electoral process.
“The youths are teaming up for the next general elections. There are lots of more youthful aspirants than we realise.
“The hurdles before them is that we must address their issues ahead of 2023,” Aderemi said.
Fielding questions from the moderators, Programmes Director, YIAGA Africa, Ms Cynthia Mbamalu said the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Act had been quite effective and had achieved some appreciated successes since it was signed in 2018.
She noted that for the first time since the return of democracy, 20 candidates below 30 years won their seats, while 101 young people between 25 and 30 years also won.
Mbamalu, however, believed that the age limit should be further reduced to widen the political space for more young people.
According to her, if you are old enough to vote, you should be old enough to run.
She added that political party primary processes, exorbitant nomination forms, lack of internal party democracy and sheer discrimination, had continued to limit the chances of young people to contest for political offices.
Beyond the enacted law, Mbamalu said that political parties must begin to make conscious efforts to create greater opportunities for youths. (NAN)