Youths in Niger State have decried the high nomination fees by political parties from aspirants and the huge funds needed to carry out political campaigns in the country, blaming these ‘anomalies’ for the inability of the youths to participate in today’s political process.
Contributing to the discussion on ‘Campus Conversation on Youth Participation in politics’, a programme organised by YIAGA Africa at the Federal University of Technology Minna yesterday, they believed that there is no way the youths could rub shoulders with experienced and wealthy politicians like former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in the political terrain.
Leading the discussion, Samson Olayiwola, a student from the School of Agriculture, lamented that lack of financial resources has been responsible for the lack of participation of the youths in politics, insisting that majority of the youths in the country are from humble backgrounds.
“How do you expect people like us to rub shoulder with a man like Tinubu, who has put in more than 30 years in politics and is very rich?” Olayiwola asked.
Another participant, Mr Salihu Mohammed, said youths are not interested in voting because “our votes don’t always count,” giving as an example of the 2019 general election in one of the middle belt states where he said the votes cast by the youths were not what was declared as the final result.
Meanwhile, there was a mild drama at the forum when the YIAGA Africa Programme Officer, Efemena Ozuga, asked the over 200 participants how many of them have the Permanent Voters Card (PVC), and those who know about the not-too-young-to-rule law, and only about four students raised their hands.
Ozuga was, however, not deterred, but urged the participants to ensure they obtained their PVC to be able to vote and contest in an election.
“Your vote is very important, and that is why politicians are desperate to buy your PVCs, obtain your PVC, go out and vote for the candidate of your choice when the time comes,” insisting that “failure to vote will give room for manipulation of the process.”
Also, a representative of the Niger State Government and Commissioner for Local Government, Mr Emmanuel Umar, disclosed that youths in the state account for about 67 per cent of the 50,000 people that were registered during the e-registration carried out by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Umar agreed that politicians are making things more expensive to “sideline some people,” but allayed the fears of the youths, especially as it concerns high nomination fees and huge funds that will be needed for campaigns, declaring that: “We may not be able to bring the desired change today, but we must remain focused and work for the future.”