By Cynthia Alo
YOUNG aspirants vying for election positions in 2023 have pointed to the relentless demand for funds from voters as one of the many challenges hampering their election campaign.
At a political clinic organized by Yiaga Africa to equip women and youth interested in political offices with skills needed to organize campaigns, held in Lagos, the aspirants said these acts could be attributed to the state of the economy and the level of poverty in the country.
Yiaga Africa recently organized a political clinic to help the aspirants understand the campaign procedure as they prepare for elections and equip them with the skills they need to win the election.
This, they said, is a way to increase youth participation in the upcoming general election.
Islamiyah Adebowale, who is running for Lagos State House of Assembly, Alimosho Constituency on the platform of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, complained that Nigerians believe you have to rub their palms in exchange for a vote.
Adebowale said: “Politics is very expensive and as young candidates it is expensive. Many of the voters have an orientation that every aspirant should rub their palms before casting their vote. It is quite challenging that even with the way people are clamoring for change, we are still the ones hindering this change.
“We need to know that at this stage we have to determine the political affairs of the country so that we can create the change we want and create a better future.”
Moreover, she said: “What we have learned here, if put to use, will help a lot in the upcoming elections. This has revived hope that 2023 is a possibility.”
Another aspirant, Engr Akomolafe Henrich who is running for the House of Representatives in constituency 1 of Ekiti South Fed on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, said voters do not believe in the young candidates.
He noted that with the narrative of how people view candidates changing, it will be different, adding that now more young people are involved and elections are now based on personality.
Henrich said: “I think with this we can bring back the confidence in engaging and then delivering the manifesto.
“Many of the voters are not aware of the different work of the different levels of government. Some of them may ask for a borehole or roads.
Another aspirant, Princess Lara Oyekan, who is running for the House of Representatives on Lagos Island 1 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, lamented the low participation of women in electoral matters.
According to her, many women believe that politicians are putting their lives at risk, adding that gender inequality is high in electoral matters, hurting women’s interest in campaigning.
Oyekan said: “People believe that if you don’t have the money, you can’t participate in politics. Once you are in politics, people around you feel that your life is on the line because of what happened.
“Nigerians believe that the young aspirants have no money to offer the public and they should not be.
“Young people also do not support the young aspirants. Participating in leadership can lead to a better future.”
Speaking to journalists after the session, Yiaga Africa Executive Director Samson Itodo explained that the clinic was designed to help the aspirants understand the procedure as they prepare for elections and also to equip them with the kind of skills that they need to win elections.
He said: “Yiaga Africa has previously conducted a report showing that between 2019 and 2023, the level of youth candidacy fell from 34 percent to 28 percent.
“The reasons that explain this decline are the cost of politics, the lack of internal democracy and parties, and a highly commercialized election process for candidates.
“However, for these young people who have appeared on the ballot as candidates, we consider it part of our own generation’s responsibility to provide them with technical support.
“We also help them organize effectively and understand the procedure as they prepare for elections. So this lab aims to equip them with the kind of skills they need to win elections.
“And this is part of our total democracy project where we have been organizing the convergence for young candidates all over the country just to inspire them and also let them know that there is a generation of young people who are determined to change . the face of politics, and they represent that new leader of leaders who must transform Nigeria, as well as solve a leadership crisis we face.
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