Yiaga Africa, 2023 general election

…as 11% of young female candidates made INEC list of candidates

…ADC ranks 1st as youth most friendly party

By Gabriel Ewepu

ABUJA – AS political parties strategize to put out formidable campaigns to woo voters ahead of 2023 general elections, Yiaga Africa, Thursday, released a preliminary report indicating a decline of youth candidacy from 34 per cent in 2019 general elections to 28 per cent in 2023 general elections.

The preliminary report titled ‘Youth Candidacy in the 2023 Elections in Nigeria’ was presented by the Executive Director, Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, at a media conference held in Abuja.

Itodo said the report indicated a whole lot of factors responsible for the decline, including excessive cost of nomination forms, highly commercialized party primaries, and others.

Youth candidacy in the House of Representatives Election; the report pointed that despite 3,122 candidates vying for seats in the House of Representatives, only 3,115 candidates have complete information provided. Of this number, 674 representing 22 per cent are young candidates. Two young candidates are people living with disabilities (albinism – 1, others – 1).

Meanwhile, he said 51 young candidates are vying for governorship and deputies, and the total number is 837 representing 12.2 per cent; Senate has 41 young candidates with total of 1,101 representing 3.7 per cent; House of Representatives has 674 young candidates with total of 3,122 representing 21.6 per cent; and State House of Assembly has 3,632 young candidates with total number of 10,240 representing 35.6 per cent.

According to him, total number of young candidates is 4,398 and total number of young candidates 15,336 which represents 28.6 per cent.

The report also showed that across the geographical zones distribution, the North West has 23 per cent; and South West 18 per cent dominated other zones with respect to the number of the candidates.

However, the North East has 38 per cent has more ‘Not-Too-aYoung-Run’ candidates after North West 85 per cent compared to other regions. The South East has 20 per cent which is the fewest number of candidates in the Not-Too-aYoung-Run’ category.

The report also indicated that on age distribution fewer than half (46 per cent) of the young candidates belong to the group’25-30′. Across zones the North West has the highest number of candidates in the age group ‘25 – 30’ and ’31 – 35’. Over all, there are more candidates in the age group ’31 -35’ than ’20 – 25’.

The geographical classification of the young candidates by gender reveals that the North West (37%) has the largest representation of male candidates and South East (8%) has the lowest. In contrast, the South West (28%) has the largest representation of female young candidates, North Central (13%) and North East (13%) have the least. In general, there is higher representation of female candidates in the South than in the North.

Party distribution of Candidates Across Zones; In general, the Action Democratic Congress, ADC, has the highest number of young candidates in the 2023 State House of Assembly election.

From key findings from the Analysis of the 2023 general election candidates he (Itodo) said: “43.2% of youth candidates in the 2023 election are direct beneficiaries of the Not Too Young To Run Act. Of the 15,336 candidates on the ballot in the 2023 elections, 4,398 are youth candidates. 1,899 of these figures are between398 are youth candidates. 1,899 of these figures are between 25 – 30 years.

“Youth candidacy records decline from 34% in the 2019 election to 28.6% in the 2023 elections. For instance, youth candidacy for House of Representatives plunges from 27.4% in 2019 to 21.6% in 2023. Similarly, the State House of Assembly also dropped from 41.8% in 2019 to 35.6% in 2023.

“Political parties nominated more youth candidates for legislative elections at the state level than executive or national assembly seats. For instance, State Assembly elections and House of Representatives election recorded the high level of youth candidacy. 35.6% of candidates of State Assembly are youth, 21.6% for House of Reps and only 3.7% of candidates in the Senatorial elections are youth.

“The North-west geo-political zone maintains its reputation as the zone with the highest number of youth candidates. The geographical distribution of candidates shows that the level of youth candidates in the North West is 28%, North central, 18.1%, North east, 16%, South West, 14.1%, South south 12.6% and lastly South East with 10.4% youth candidacy.

“Ranking of youth friendly parties: Based on the ranking of political parties on youth candidacy, the African Democratic Congress (ADC) ranks 1st for nominating the highest number of youth candidates. Labour party ranks 6th, New Nigerian People’s Party ranks 3rd, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ranks 13th, All Progressive Congress (APC) ranks 15th.

“Poor representation of young female candidates on the list of candidates. 11% of youth candidates are female.

“With respect to the young female candidates, the ADC (62), AA (58), APM (54) have the highest number of young female candidates. While, the APC (9) and PDP (5) has the lowest number of young female candidates.

“Among the young candidates, 7 individuals representing 0.2% belong to persons living with disabilities in the 2023 election.”

However, Yiaga Africa expressed displeasure over the current funding model of political financing, which it pointed as creating unfair competition and shrinks the political space to the detriment of competent leaders, youth, and women.

“Political finance reform is an urgent necessity to ensure the political space is accessible to all persons regardless of age, economic class, tribe, and creed.

“Any meaningful reform of party funding or campaign funding should deliver the following four key outcomes; first, limit the influx of unregulated money in the political process; secondly, enhance the capacity of political parties on resource mobilization and maintenance of proper account of financial transactions and assets register; thirdly, strengthen INEC’s capacity to monitor and ensure compliance with political finance regulations and; fourth explore new pathways of candidate selection that de-emphasizes the place of money and economic power over competence, capacity and character.

“The net effect of these outcomes will be improved safeguards for the political space, party supremacy, and candidate recruitment.Public perception of youth leadership affects the emergence of youth candidates in elections.

“Young people are perceived as inexperienced and ill-prepared for public leadership hence the limits placed on youth participation in politics”, he added.

Meanwhile as part of its recommendations, the report thus read, “To secure electoral victory for youth candidates, political parties should provide technical, financial and logistics support to young male and female candidates during the campaigns.

“Youth candidates will require technical support to hone political organizing skills, and improve knowledge election day operations, and legal framework for elections.

“The general public are encouraged to support youth candidates by making financial donations to youth candidates with competence, character and capacity.

“Media organize should prioritize coverage of youth candidates.
Adequate airtime should be provided to young male and female candidates to provide visibility for youth candidates and improve public perception of youth candidates.

“To advance political inclusion and accountability in election, Nigeria requires comprehensive political finance reform and reforms of the delegate recruitment and management process.”

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