Nigeria, with its significant youth population, is facing a critical issue of inadequate representation of young people in its parliament. This blog post delves into the challenges hindering youth inclusion in Nigeria’s political landscape, highlighting key obstacles that contribute to this underrepresentation and analyzing their implications.
Lack of youth representation
A major challenge lies in the absence of young people’s involvement across all levels of government, resulting in limited opportunities for them to engage in and influence policy-making processes. Consequently, policies are formulated without considering the needs and perspectives of the youth. For instance, the recent bans on cryptocurrency and Twitter, which are popular platforms for active engagement among young people, could have benefited from the input of youth representatives in the policy-making process. By including young persons in policy-making, more balanced regulations could have been developed instead of resorting to complete bans.
Age limit for candidacy
The Nigerian constitution sets age limits for political candidacy, posing a significant limitation for ambitious and energetic young individuals seeking political office. The minimum age requirements are 30 years for the presidency, 35 for governors and senators, and 25 for members of the House of Representatives. This age barrier becomes a hindrance for youth who possess the drive and capability to lead. A simplistic viewpoint suggests that if one is not deemed too old to rule, they should not be deemed too young to rule.
Cost of Political Participation
Participating in political office in Nigeria comes with exorbitant costs, which creates a substantial barrier for youth who often have limited financial resources. For example, the astronomical expenses associated with political party candidacy forms and the cost of conducting political campaigns pose significant challenges. These financial constraints prevent many young individuals from successfully challenging for political office, perpetuating the lack of youth representation in the parliament.
One foundational challenge faced by young people aspiring for leadership roles is the deeply entrenched patriarchal sentiment within Nigerian society. Traditional norms tend to view young individuals as lacking the necessary experience to hold political offices. This prejudice further marginalizes the youth, hindering their opportunities for meaningful political participation.
Limited resources or capacity
Many young people lack the necessary resources and capacity to run a robust political campaign that can effectively compete with more established political figures. This further diminishes their chances of attracting the required support needed to win an election. As a result, youth face significant disadvantages in challenging or competing with older, more experienced political elites.
Youth inclusion in the Nigerian parliament faces numerous obstacles, as outlined above. Addressing these challenges requires concerted efforts at all levels of government. Policies should be formulated and implemented to promote youth inclusion and representation, lifting age barriers for candidacy, increasing access to financial resources and support for young individuals, and ensuring that the cost of candidacy forms is affordable. By prioritizing these actions, Nigeria can harness the energy, creativity, and potential of its young population, leading to a brighter, better, and prosperous future for all.
writer: Taiye Ojo
Editor: Esther Daramola