…Demands direct primaries, tickets for elective offices, reduced cost for nomination forms
By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA- Scores of Nigerian youths, Wednesday stormed the Wadata Plaza, national headquarters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), demanding among others, tickets to participate in the 2019 general elections on the platform of the party.
Decked in white T-shirts with the inscription, “Ready To Run,” they chanted solidarity songs primarily calling for affirmative action in support of youths inclusiveness in the 2019 polls.
Leader of the group and Convener of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run, Samson Itodo while presenting a list of demands to the PDP National Youth Leader, Honourable Sunday Udeh-Okoye, said the youths were at the party’s secretariat to solicit for support for the aspirations of young Nigerians, many of whom, he said, had indicated interest to contest various elective positions in 2019.
Itodo, whose presentation drew applause from representatives of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC), bemoaned the high cost of nomination forms for the various offices, adding however that the youths were not asking for free forms but a reduction in the cost to be able to afford them.
“We are asking that this party should support young Presidential aspirants, reserve tickets for the youths, reduce cost of nomination forms and adopt the direct primaries option in the selection of candidates for elective positions. Additionally, we are calling for an end to vote buying.
“Nigerian youths are now more aware of what is going on. The nation is being celebrated today across the world for reducing the age limit to run for elective offices simply because of that step taken to address this issue.
“As a party that represents transformation, you must reduce the cost of obtaining nomination forms,” he said, warnung that the youths “will not accept crumbs from politicians this time.”
Responding on behalf of the party, Udeh-Okoye pledged the readiness of the PDP to take the youths along, noting that the party is famous for championing youths’ aspirations since the return to democratic mode of governance in 1999.
“The Bill (Not-Too-Young-To-Run) was sponsored by our member who has defected for one or two reasons, but which has nothing to do with the PDP not doing well but for his personal reasons. Even as he has defected, he is still our member in spirit.
“Our party will protect your interest. We believe in you and we have respect for our youths. We want the young ones to grow which is why while the other political parties were kicking against the Bill, we stood our ground and ensured that it was passed.
“The field is now open for every Nigerian youth to run as age is no longer a barrier. I challenge you to begin to confront the political arena to vie for position, without looking at anybody’s face,” he stated, even as he tasked the youths to be dogged in their demands for inclusiveness.
“Power is not given; it is taken. Once we march in unison and support ourselves to get what we want, certainly we will get there.
“This party will not disappoint you and we assure you that all our primaries are going to be transparent. We assure you that the interests of the youths are going to be protected,” he added.