Africa is young but is plagued with the oldest political leaders. Not Too Young To Run movement is a movement of youth and civil society groups advocating for the reduction of age for running for elective offices and promoting youth candidacy to mainstream young men and women in electoral politics. The movement is driven by the compelling need to restructure the country’s political system to address the deeply entrenched system of political exclusion of youth and institute inclusive politics.
Old enough to vote, #NotTooYoungToRun
What issue are you trying to solve?
First initiated in Nigeria, Not Too Young To Run has become a global rallying call for youth political inclusion particularly in Africa is a Nigerian inspired global movement of people promoting inclusion in democratic politics in Africa. The movement comprises of over 100 youth and civil society organizations drawn from different parts of the country working to promote youth issues in policy making and the constitution review process. The campaign started in Nigeria in May 2016 by YIAGA AFRICA facilitating the process of sponsoring a constitutional amendment bill to remove age restrictions for running for office. The amendment reduced the age criteria for President from 40yrs to 35; House of Representatives 30 to 25 and State Assemblies 30 to 25. The hallmark of the campaign was the adoption of the campaign by the United Nations, African Union and the Economic Community of West Africa States. The Movement is taking intentional steps as a nation to harness our demographic dividend.
What approach do you take to solve this issue?
The Movement seeks to increase the participation of young people and increase youth candidacy in the electoral process in Nigeria. Age restrictions create a huge gap between the voting age and eligible age to run for office. Whilst the right to vote is guaranteed, the analogous right to be voted for is not guaranteed until the attainment of an age bracket that is above the youth age classification. This in itself is ironical and discriminatory. Whilst the Constitution recognizes 18 as the voting age, it strips young people of the opportunity to pursue their political aspirations. Our approach used the following innovation.
a. Trained 37 States Coordinators/Ambassadors in each state and the FCT for ownership.
b. The use of Press Conferences:
c. Was a citizen-led initiative: Not Too Young To Run was not propelled by one organization, it was/is still led by over 100 organizations in Nigeria.
d. The use of social media
e. Hall of Shame for opponents
f. Hall of Fame for supporters
What is the potential impact of your initiative?
A. Inter-generational & sustainable political system
B. Inclusive political space for young people
C. Promotion of Issue-base politics
D. Evidence of Advocacy: Today, we have been able to show that truly advocacy works and that through consistent advocacy we can make a significant difference.
The initiatives of the Movement will enhance democratic development, as the resourcefulness of Nigerian youth will be harnessed in a sustainable manner. The Movement also promotes inclusive politics, which has been the bane of Nigeria’s political process. Our initiative will also deepen intergenerational dialogue and knowledge transfer, facilitates access to the political process by young people thereby providing them with an opportunity to interface and interact with experienced adults, reduce incidences of youth involvement in violence and political thuggery. Expanding the political space for youth to contest will potentially increase the patriotism quotient and instill national pride.