AFRICA/NIGERIA- Not Too Young to Run: young Nigerians ready to be leaders
Abuja (Agenzia Fides) – Presidential and parliamentary elections in Nigeria are scheduled for16 February 2019, and the deadline for the presentation of candidacy has been set for the period between 18 August and 7 October of this year. This is the first time in the country’s history that the opposition defeats the party in government putting an end to the government of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in power uninterruptedly since 1999.
“It is no novelty that as elections draw near tension in the political climate heightens. In these contexts in Africa we see the amplification of rhetoric, promises and, nearly always, an increase in episodes of violence and death”, Fides was told by Fr. Joseph Tile Nomhwange, a priest belonging to the Society of African Missions.
“Nigeria’s democratic context, in force since 1999, registered in actual fact a democracy to a large extent not for nation, not for the people. Despite the promises of several alternating governments, Nigerians have continued to experience conditions of hunger and unprecedented precariousness in every sector”, says Fr. Joseph.
The priest, who is also a member of the Catholic Secretariat Mission and Dialogue, told Fides: “Today young Nigerians seem to be waking up and realising that they have been manipulated and put aside for too long. The feeling of exclusion which has oppressed them hitherto is disappearing and they are ready to be the leaders of tomorrow, a tomorrow which means to today”.
In a population of almost 200 million, more than half are under 30. “The conviction that if you are old enough to vote, you are adult enough to be voted has given rise to a youth movement called simply ‘Not too young to run’ with three fundamental goals. Firstly to increase awareness of the situation of rights of youth all over the world running for electoral positions; the promotion of these rights; the aspiration of young people the world over to candidate themselves for an electoral office. Lowering the age of those able to compete for political jobs, young Nigerians are stating that they have something to say and they want to be heard. The president of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari, age 75, is examining a draft law presented by young citizens which foresees a change in the Constitution and lower age for qualification for presidency from 40 to 35 years”.
“For too long in Nigeria – the missionary continues – the role of young people has been simply pawns in electoral vote rigging by politicians and victims of violence caused by continual clashes. Moreover corruption at all levels continues to be the ruin of every social sector. One of the principal mandates of the present administration is precisely the fight against corruption and the response will be seen at the polling stations, when Nigerians will go to express their opinion regarding how this administration has fought against or helped to institutionalise corruption in Nigeria”. These elections, concludes Fr. Joseph Nomhwange “are a platform for responding to similar questions in all sectors of society, in economy education, infrastructures, job creation, security of life and property, as well as the emancipation of youth power and the alleviation of poverty in such a wealthy country. These African youths are stating basically two things: we want to express our opinions and we want to be co-pilots as our country drives towards the future”.
(JTN/AP) (26/4/2018 Agenzia Fides)