Not Too Young To Run. To Where?

"We believe if you are old enough to vote, you are old enough to run for office"

Running for political office in Africa is extremely expensive; that you’ll need a sponsor; political sponsors are the aged and dictate the tune. As you already know, African countries are battling with lust for political powers and long dictatorship. According to Freedom House annual survey, there are 50 world dictators, 21 in Africa, 19 in Asia, 8 in Middle East, 1 in Europe, and 1 in Caribbean. Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Libya, Mauritania, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Swaziland as at 2016, are clear example of what I am telling you. Sometimes I wonder what’s the hope for youths in countries where there's political dictatorship, where there are no spaces for young people in governance. I have seen countries where young people are intimidated not to run for office. I have also seen countries where youths see themselves as too young to run for office. What is it have I not seen in Africa!

LOOKING BEYOND THE LINES

Suffix to say that is error for youths to be allowed for use as tools for violence; for any body running for office post or whatsoever, especially when such actions are with promises for political rewards. It's simply affronts and I tell you nothing but the truth, that such rewards are usually empty and meaningless, and must be seen as disrespect to your integrity as youth. Do you know who you are as a youth? If you do, you wouldn’t cheapen yourself to be referred as “Personal Assistant” on violence matters and thug as political reward to office. Whereas that office is yours; I came to tell you how more qualified you are to run for that office henceforth. I also came to tell you to give it a try, to take a chance. You see, nobody would dash you political chance if you don’t dare it. It is your right; rights to run for any office. Dream it, be inspired about it, and you can achieve it.

Interestingly, today’s generation of young people is the largest the world ever known. Half of the global population is under 30 and is asset untapped, yet 73% of countries restrict young people from running for office, even though they can vote, but can’t be voted for. Can you ask questions like, why young people in my country are barred to vote for? Why do we use age discrimination to deny young people their rights to participation in democracy? Why has it been difficult for youths to realize meaning full strategies to utilize their population as strength against the old during elections? How can youths jump over financial hurdles and barriers in running for office? These questions and many more answers are within you, and within youths around the world. I can hear the rhythm of the music and if you listen carefully now you will hear.

SHOW GOES ON Campaigns are under way, on going to promote the rights of young people running for public office by seeking to lower the legal age of candidacy and bring it into line with the age at which young people votes. And this is good news. But like I questioned you the other time about who is a youth? And you did replied with one answer in different variations. A youth (18-24 years) by definition in United Nations frame work is the same as a youth (18-35years) in African Union Charter. And I said yes! Another, you told me that countries define who its youths are. That some even says that a youth is a state of mind not age? You know I told you I am not here to argue. So we shall be referring to “youth” as defined in African Union Charter.



Not too young to run is a local social campaign turn global, that got me inspirational. Let me commend the initiator of the campaign, a Nigeria NGO- Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement, for a good concept. When I got wind that the campaign is driven by Office of the Secretary- General’s, United Nations Envoy on Youth, Inter-Parliamentary Union, UNDP, United Nations Human Rights-office of the High Commissioner, European Youth Forum, I was glad. But disappointed that there was no African regional body especially African Union that is partnering in the campaign.

However, it didn’t take me much time to realize one of the reasons we have more dictatorship in Africa than other continents. Dictators do not support democracy ideals and do not care about the other youths. So they wouldn’t support “Not too young to run” - against them. That’s just the African truth. Truth in the sense that African political parties need to first of all give space to young people to run for positions and offices in party structures and not just create a youth political party wing. Enough of that.



Quote me, “dictatorship is more like African bad spirit” and start from the cradle and grows to manifestation at old age. If I ask you, ask United Nations or Commonwealth Youth Council for instance to mention ten names of African youths that have represented Africa in your programs in the last ten years, wouldn’t the names be the same year in year out? It is bad thing to notice that African youth’s barely outgrown youth age limit. I mean – once a youth, always a youth. They barely grow older and I see it as wrong foundation and as indicator that snowballs in future into spirit of dictatorship. Therefore, it is my strong view that “Not too young to run” as a campaign must teach African youths how to live and let live, how youths can create space for other youths, how to give chance and grow. Not too young to run, is greatly appreciated and let's support it now. Join the moving train.

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