‘Political parties, funding major barriers to youth participation in politics’
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) under the auspices of Run To Win initiative, have identified unfriendly political parties’ attitude to youthful candidates and lack of funds as major barriers militating against youth participation in politics.
Speaking in Abuja during the launch of the initiative, Yiaga Africa’s Programme Manager, Cynthia Mbamalu, urged youths to concentrate more on issue-based campaign that is informed by citizens’ agenda to win more elective positions.
According to Mbamalu, the Run To Win initiative is very biased towards supporting young women, explaining that their challenges during elections are different from that of their male counterparts.
He said: “The Run To Win initiative is basically designed to empower and support young men and women with competence, character, and capacity to run for office. But the idea for Run To Win is not just about contesting, it is also ensuring that they contest and win elections.
“Our approach to this is through connecting young candidates with the voters to ensure that we have issue-based campaign that is informed by citizens’ agenda. That way, they will be speaking the voters’ language.
“We are also hoping that in our engagements, learning from our last experience, we will be building a better support system for youth aspirants and candidates and give them the level of visibility that they need, as well as connect them to other networks of young candidates across the country.”
Mbamalu clarified that Yiaga Africa does not give money or fund candidates, but that the engagements are so strategic that they add value to young candidates’ ambition.
She further noted that the campaign is open to everyone who cares about youth and women leadership in Nigeria.
Also, Project Coordinator, Voice Nigeria Programme and Lead Funders, Run To Win initiative, Ijeoma Okwor, said: “The Voice Programme is the Dutch government’s own way of responding to the United Nation’s (UN) call to leave no one behind.
Okwor recollected when the UN made the call, challenging different governments and institutions to ensure that their policies, programmes, and activities leave no one behind.
On his part, Hon. Okwu Chinedu Otaka, member representing Aninri at the Enugu House of Assembly and Chairman, Committee on Youths, Sports and Security Matters, sharing his experience contesting for election in 2019, said youths often feel insecure, especially when coming from a background that is not known, or with no political godfathers.