Are Nigerian youths #ReadyToRun after the much anticipated signing of #NotTooYoungToRun bill by President Mohammadu Buhari?
Would Nigerian youths be given opportunity to rule? These are speculation that arised after the signing of the #NotTooYoungTooRun bill.
Nigerian Youths wanted more inclusion in electoral process, hence the #NotTooYoungToRun movement. NGOs came together for a common cause and rallied, protested for months. Initially, it seemed like every other protest that would die off but with the support of INEC, ActionAid with the Strengthening Citizen Engagement in the Electoral Process (SCEEP) project, other forces pulled together to support the movement.
The inclusion of Nigerian youths in the electoral process is one step, the full involvement of the youths in Nigeria is another step. We had the opportunity of having an interview with Ibrahim Faruk, the pioneer and National Coordinator of the #NotTooYoungToRun Campaign at the SCEEP dissemination event that held on the 5th of July 2018.
Ibrahim Faruk is also senior programme officer with the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), Abuja.
He shared insights on the future of the participation of Nigerian youths after the signed bill. he also shared the strategies YIAGA has put in place to makes sure the #NotTooYoungTooRun campaign continues.
If you are on the go, you could just listen to the audio file below to hear what Mr. Ibrahim Faruk share insights on the #NotTooYoungToRun bill from the perspective of #TheSceepStory as it continues.
If you do not mind, we will ask you questions. First give an introduction of yourself?
My name is Ibrahim Faruk. I work with YIAGA AFRICA but I am also the national coordinator of the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign which has also now become a movement, so my job is to make sure everything from inception was well from when the bill was first sponsored up until when the president signed it and it became a law.
So how has the journey of the #NotTooYoungToRun bill been from the beginning, what are the challenges and how difficult were the issues around getting the bill passed as it is?
It has been interesting journey. We have had high moments, we have had low moments and we have had times when we had to celebrate our small victories, there were times that we also had to go back and look at our strategy on how we can work with young people to get them more involved in the process.
We learnt a few lessons, one was the need to mobilize and organize bring in a critical mass of young people to participate. We have coordinators in each of the 36 states that are working with us that were mobilizing especially when it came to the time of House of Assembly to vote.
We had young people who are speaking to their legislators, who are visiting them, who are writing letters, who are making phone calls, who are engaging the process at that level.
What is your opinion of the bill as it is against what envisioned by YIAGA when you started?
Well the bill, which is now a law. When the president signed, he made some comments, he said, “the age of contesting for senate and for governor has not reduced”, which was part of the initial plan but like I said we celebrate the small victories that we have and we celebrate the reduction in some of the ages.
We also believe that the spaces where young people can participate more is especially when they run for house of assembly and house of Reps because there are many offices there are 991 state house of assembly seats, there are 360 house of Reps seat, so that means there’s an opportunity.
There’s a wider poll for young people who want to run for office but I’m sure we’re going to come back, we’re going to go and review our strategy in the next constitution review process and you’ll hear back from us.
So how would you say SCEEP as a project has impacted on the #NotTooYoungToRun bill and the movement as a whole?
We celebrate SCEEP project and ActionAid because they were such a formidable partner for us in the campaign and ensuring that the bill became a law. Many of the SCEEP partners in various states, Imo state for instance also are partners for the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign.
They supported us right from the beginning when there were some rallies, when there were some town hall meetings in the SCEEP partner states, when it was a critical time for us to mobilize citizens and ensure that people are more aware of how they can engage in the process.
When it was time for us to also engage with our lawmakers and engage with the Presidency as part of the constitution amendment process. The SCEEP project was supportive, when we had a town hall meeting. We had 6 state house of assembly that represented us.
The SCEEP project also supported that as a means of just making sure that citizens can engage with their elected leaders and I think I’m very happy to say that all the State House of Assembly that were represented at that meeting went back and passed the #NotTooYoungToRun bill, so the support was amazing.
We are so appreciative of the support from ActionAid and the SCEEP project.
How far is the #NotTooYoungToRun movement going, like going to start from the local level because it seems like it’s just national level and state level
That is what it seems like, but the #NotTooYoungToRun movement is one of the largest and the most coordinated youth movements so there is a team at the national level. A strategy team that just helps to guide the movement and then at the state level there are state teams.
There is a leadership team between 10-12 people at each state and the state teams have different local government teams or local government coordinators so maybe because you see a lot of us in Abuja or on television, you think that, but the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign is all across the country.
Like they say nowadays we are global we deserve some accolades because we have also gotten some international recognition from, united nations, from AU, from ECOWAS, we’ve seen other African countries also adopt the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign.
This is only because of the support that we had from all our different partners, different supporters especially the SCEEP project.
So what next after this, after the passage of the law, I know you people have the ready to run, so what next?
Yes we still have the #NotTooYoungToRun movement but we also have #ReadyToRun and #NotTooYoungToRun would continue to push for spaces for young people to participate we are going to continue advocacy to political parties.
We are calling on political parties to reserve seats for young people. We are calling on young people to go out and register, collect your PVC and come out and vote but with the #ReadyToRun I think the narrative during the campaign was that young people are not ready and so to show that indeed we have young people who are ready to run.
We are identifying young people who have interest in running for offices 2019, to identify them, to promote them, to support them as we can as a movement, to link them to other opportunities that would help their aspiration.
Thank you so much for your time