Connect with us

Politics

Not Too Young To Run: Taking on Nigeria’s political elite

The “Not Too Young To Run” movement last year succeeded in securing a reduction in the minimum age limit for candidates to seek election.

News Central

Published

on

Photo - @meshackism001

Zainab Yusuf is standing for parliament to represent her native Kaduna in northern Nigeria. At 29, she’s one of the youngest candidates in this weekend’s election.

“It’s been extremely challenging,” she told AFP. “But we’re fighting and doing well, getting our message across. People can see we’re here campaigning to improve life.”

There are 91 political parties in Nigeria but just two dominate — the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Together, they account for almost all of the seats in both chambers of the National Assembly and with back-and-forth defections common between the two, many see them as one.

But Nigeria has one of the youngest populations in the world and now the mostly-elderly men who have dominated politics for so long are coming under pressure.

House of Representative candidates debating

Yusuf, from a little-known party called the National Rescue Movement (NRM), feels a younger generation of lawmakers is needed to connect with the increasingly youthful country. 

She is among the youngest generation of candidates to run for office in Nigeria after a change in the law.

The “Not Too Young To Run” movement last year succeeded in securing a reduction in the minimum age limit for candidates to seek election.

But while age is no longer a barrier for entry into politics, other, more formidable challenges remain.

When first Yusuf decided to run, she was a member of the APC in Kaduna state. 

To contest in party primaries, prospective candidates had to pay 3.0 million naira ($8,285, 7,400 euros) — a huge sum unaffordable to all but a small upper class.

The APC promised to increase the number of female candidates, making tickets free. But Yusuf said: “They don’t want women to run because they will get less money.”

As such, women who don’t come from rich, elite political families, have an uphill struggle.

“They told me, ‘It’s not my time’, or that I should pay at least half to get a ticket, so we left,” she said. 

Eventually she moved to the NRM after realising that trying to change Nigeria from within through belonging to an established party was too difficult because party democracy was non-existent.

Political “godfathers” often impose candidates on the party. Many of them are elected or previously elected figureheads who want greater control in their region.

In the southwest state of Ogun, for example, one would-be candidate said APC parliamentary hopefuls were told the governor had chosen the list weeks before the primaries.

“I wanted to run in a fair primary but he had other ideas,” said one of those who missed out. Even a senior party official said the process had been “compromised”.

Nana Nwachukwu, a lawyer and activist for “Not Too Young To Run”, said political elites have tried to block new candidates since the minimum age limit was lowered. 

“They have resorted to bullying or intimidation or cajoling” to discourage them from taking part and “enable the old gang to retain and recycle power,” she said. 

Many young candidates face threats to rein in their aspirations, forcing them to join smaller parties, where governance may be more transparent but resources are scarce.

“The campaign would have been smooth but for the thugs,” said Yusuf. 

“They’ve broken my car windscreen, vandalised my office, my equipment, it’s not easy.” 

She blamed opponents but also disgruntled local youths, who have grown used to cash handouts from wealthy politicians, annoyed that her campaign is not benefiting them financially. 

“I’m trying to find the funds to keep the campaign running well but it is a struggle,” she said.

Money rules in Nigerian politics and with 87 million people living in extreme poverty and millions more struggling to get by, campaigning has become a source of income.

Politicians are typically expected to spend millions of naira to attract supporters and pay campaigners. 

Manufacturers of rice and other food items that are often distributed at rallies have come to rely on the big-spending parties for pay days.

Yusuf said she expects to have spent 6.0 million naira by election day this weekend. 

Some of her spending priorities were “unfortunate but necessary”, she said. That includes paying the local media for coverage, agents to canvas support and monitor votes.

“They will even sleep at the collation centres to monitor votes so make sure they are counted. It’s a lot!” she added. 

The larger parties far outspend her campaign “but we are connecting to voters, winning their support where we can”, she said.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Politics

Malawi opposition leader takes MP seat despite challenging presidential vote

The 64-year-old leader of the Malawi Congress Party, MCP, was sworn in at the Parliament Building on Monday, together with 60 others

Published

on

Lazarus Chakwera takes MP seat despite challenging presidential vote

Malawi opposition chief, Lazarus Chakwera, has been sworn in as a member of the country’s parliament. The swearing in took place in the capital Lilongwe following the May 21 elections, local media in Malawi reported on Monday.

The 64-year-old leader of the Malawi Congress Party, MCP, was sworn in at the Parliament Building on Monday, together with 60 others, while other lawmakers were scheduled to be sworn in today.

According to The Nation newspaper, Chakwera “took his oath of allegiance and office … amid cheers from scores of party supporters who accompanied him.”

Chakwera’s party, the MCP is currently challenging the official result of the presidential vote which saw incumbent Peter Mutharika win a second and final term in office whiles Chakwera came second.

The Malawian electoral system make provision for persons contesting for presidency and vice presidency to simultaneously contest for parliamentary seats.

 On the other hand, the incumbent vice president Saulos Chilima, who also contested in the presidential election, lost his parliamentary bid.

Continue Reading

Africa News & Updates

Morsi’s death: Timeline of events in Egypt since 2011 post-Mubarak era

Key dates in Egypt since the Tahrir Square-led revolt known which drove Hosni Mubarak out of power and events that led to Morsi’s death

Published

on

People carry images of Egypt's first popularly elected president Mohamed Morsi, who reportedly died from a heart attack on Monday

Former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was buried in Cairo Tuesday, a day after he died following his collapse in court and nearly six years since his ouster by now President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, leaving the country in a leadership crisis as the incumbent plans perpetuity.

Here are key dates in Egypt since the Tahrir Square-led revolt known as the ‘January 25 revolution’ which drove Morsi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak from power in February 2011.

Revolution

On January 25, 2011, thousands of Egyptians, inspired by the Tunisian revolt that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, protest in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt demanding longtime dictator Mubarak’s overthrow.

On February 11, after days of vast protests centred in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Mubarak’s newly appointed vice president Omar Suleiman announces that the president has resigned and the army is in charge. 

A crackdown on the protests has left at least 850 dead.

Tens of thousands people take part in a mass rally against a decree by President Mohamed Morsi granting himself broad powers. News of Morsi's death are making the rounds in the media
Tens of thousands people take part in a mass rally against a decree by President Mohamed Morsi granting himself broad powers on November 27, 2012 at Egypt’s landmark Tahir Square in Cairo. Clashes between police and protesting youths erupted near Cairo’s Tahrir Square, ahead of the demonstration. The planned demonstrations came a day after Morsi stuck by his controversial decree in a meeting with judges that was aimed at defusing the worst political crisis since his election in June. AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

Islamist victory

Islamist parties win a majority of seats at parliamentary elections between November 2011 and January 2012. 

On June 30, 2012, Morsi, a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader, wins 51.7 percent of the vote to become Egypt’s first civilian, democratically elected president. He is also the first Islamist to head the country.

Egypt’s military rulers dissolve parliament in June. In August, Morsi dismisses military chief Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and replaces him with Sisi, in a purge of top brass.

Morsi ousted

On July 3, 2013, following massive protests against Morsi’s divisive rule, the military led by Sisi overthrows Morsi and detains him. Morsi denounces a coup and calls on his supporters to defend his legitimacy.

On August 14, police disperse two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo, killing about 700 people in clashes, according to official figures.

The government names the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organisation” in December.

Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi greeting press members as he stands behind the bars. Morsi's Death has been reported
Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi greeting press members as he stands behind the bars during his trial on charges of espionage on behalf of Qatar at the Police Academy in Cairo, Egypt. /Mohamed Gamil / Anadolu Agency

President Sisi

Sisi is elected president with 96.9 percent of the vote in May 2014. His election comes after the approval of a new constitution bolstering the military’s powers.

In late 2015 a new parliament is elected, packed with Sisi supporters.

Repression

Sisi presides over a fierce clampdown. Hundreds of suspected Islamists are sentenced to death or life in prison in mass trials slammed by rights groups.

Secular opposition activists are also jailed.

Local and international rights groups accuse the regime of torture, forced disappearances, summary executions and repression of dissent.

The authorities deny the accusations, pointing to the need for stability and the fight against terrorism.

Jihadist threat

The country also witnesses deadly attacks, perpetrated mainly by the Islamic State group, which kills hundreds of police officers and soldiers in attacks centred on the Sinai peninsula.

On October 31, 2015, a Russian airliner carrying tourists from an Egyptian beach resort explodes after taking off, killing all 224 people on board. IS says it had planted a bomb on the plane.

On November 24, 2017, a suspected IS attack on a mosque in the Sinai leaves more than 300 dead.

More than 100 die in attacks on Christians, also claimed by the group.

In February 2018, the army launches a vast “anti-terrorist” operation.

Backing for Sisi

In February 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin travels to Cairo for the first time in a decade and signs a deal to build the first Egyptian nuclear power plant.

In March 2015, the Obama administration lifts a partial freeze on military assistance decided after Morsi’s overthrow.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia visits Egypt in April 2016.

In April 2017, US President Donald Trump praises Sisi as the Egyptian leader visits Washington. Sisi is hosted at the White House for a second time in April 2019.

In October 2018, Sisi visits Paris, where he receives strong support from President Emmanuel Macron, who in turn visits Egypt the following January.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C-R) shaking hands with US Marine Corps General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. (L) days before Morsi's Death
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C-R) shaking hands with US Marine Corps General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. (L), commander of the US Central Command (USCENTCOM), as Sisi and Defence Minister General Mohamed Zaki (R) receive the General at the presidential palace in the capital Cairo. (Photo by – / EGYPTIAN PRESIDENCY / AFP) /

Sisi boosted

In March 2018, Sisi is re-elected with 97.08 percent of the vote. His only opponent is one of his supporters.

In April 2019, a controversial constitutional revision allowing the extension of Sisi’s presidency and strengthening his powers is approved by referendum.

Morsi dies

People wave flags of Egypt during a protest against the military government in Egypt after Egypt's first popularly elected president Mohamed Morsi, who reportedly died from a heart attack on Monday at a court session
People wave flags of Egypt during a protest against the military government in Egypt after Egypt’s first popularly elected president Mohamed Morsi, who reportedly died from a heart attack on Monday at a court session, at the Times General Square in New York, United States on June 17, 2019. Atilgan Ozdil / Anadolu Agency

On June 17, 2019, Morsi collapses in court during a retrial over charges of collaborating with foreign powers and militant groups.

He arrives at hospital dead, according to the attorney general’s office.

Rights groups say the Islamist was denied medical treatment in detention and demand an investigation.

Continue Reading

Africa News & Updates

UN wants government to end terrorist bombings in northeast Nigeria

“This is another terribly sad day for civilians in northeast Nigeria and for the humanitarians who are working to help them”

Published

on

Red Cross officials attend to victims of a triple suicide bombing, in Konduga, 38 kilometres

The United Nations has condemned the multiple suicide bombings in the northeast of the country that killed 30 people, including a community volunteer and injured 40 others.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon said in a statement in Abuja on Monday that the government must deploy more security solutions to end the spate of terrorist bombings in that part of the country.

“This is another terribly sad day for civilians in northeast Nigeria and for the humanitarians who are working to help them,” Kallon said in the statement.

“The UN and its partners deplore these abhorrent acts of violence and call for those responsible for these attacks to be swiftly brought to justice,” he said.

“Our deepest condolences go to the families of the victims in Konduga,” the UN chief said. “We hope all those injured can access the urgent medical attention they require and wish them a full recovery.”

Three bombers detonated their explosives outside a hall in Konduga, 38 kilometres (24 miles) from the Borno state capital Maiduguri, where football fans were watching a match on TV on Sunday evening. 

Although no group has claimed responsibility, the attack bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, which is seeking to impose a hardline Islamic law in Nigeria’s mainly-Muslim north. 

A victim is attended by health officials, following a triple suicide bombing in Konduga, 38
Graphic content / A victim is attended by health officials, following a triple suicide bombing in Konduga, 38 kilometres (24 miles) from the Borno state capital Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, on June 17, 2019. – Thirty people were killed late on June 16 in a triple suicide bombing in northeast Nigeria, emergency services reported, in an attack bearing the hallmarks of the Boko Haram jihadist group. Three bombers detonated their explosives outside a hall in Konduga, 38 kilometres (24 miles) from the Borno state capital Maiduguri, where football fans were watching a match on TV. (Photo by Audu Ali MARTE / AFP)

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari condemned “the heinous acts”, releasing a statement urging security agents to track down the perpetrators and devise strategies to prevent a recurrence. 

Buhari, a 76-year-old retired general, who was re-elected in February, is facing mounting demands to improve security. 

The last suicide attack was in April carried out by two female suicide bombers outside the garrison town of Monguno, killing a soldier and a vigilante. 

Konduga has been repeatedly targeted by suicide bombers from a Boko Haram faction loyal to longtime leader Abubakar Shekau. 

The faction typically attacks  soft civilian targets such as mosques, markets and bus stations, often using young women as bombers. 

Boko Haram’s insurgency has claimed more than 27,000 lives and forced two million to flee their homes, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Newsletter

Trending