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Nigeria Youth Capitalize on Empowerment Bill

Nigeria Election
Nigeria Election

Nigerian youth with political aspirations ahead of the 2023 elections say they are capitalizing on the “Not too Young to Run” bill that was signed into legislation by outgoing president Muhammadu Buhari and are looking forward to changing the west African nations political landscape.

For more, VOA’s Mike Hove spoke to Abdullahi Idris Turaki who is running for the house of representative seat in Lokoja/ Kogi Federal Constituency.

Nigerian Youth Talks 2023 Elections
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The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

VOA: Several Nigerian youths with political aspirations say they dislike party politics. What are your thoughts on that as a young person who is running for public office under the opposition New Nigeria People’s Party?

Turaki: I used to be of that opinion. I used to detest politics and wanted to focus on being an entrepreneur who can help his people with his resources.

This changed along the way when I realized that the political [party] institution is what brings about the desired changes, but unfortunately, we are yet to get the desired result because we have allowed a set of individuals to treat governance as their birth right while we complain year in year out.

This is when I realized that to get the desires results, I must be part of the system to change the system.

VOA: What else motivated you to join a political party?

Turaki: When I learned of the Not Too Young to Run bill, I was extremely excited because this meant an opportunity for young people to partake in governance. When the bill was passed in 2018, my friends came to me and said, “this is our time,” and I responded are you sure because we do not have the required funds.

This is what motivated us to say let us join a political party that aligns with our values and will take us to the front line where we will be part of the race.

We made it clear that we do not want to experience challenges such as "Godfatherism" and money politics.

VOA: Nigerian youth have made it clear that they desire young leaders, however the elder leaders have the political clout and finances that allow them to keep winning elections. How do you intend on winning the youth vote and ensure that you are able to deliver on your campaign promises?

Turaki: I have a special focus on youth as part of my campaign strategy in three areas: education, economic growth, youth, and leadership development.

One of the projects I am currently running focuses on providing all youth a platform on which to support all young candidates running for public office, respective of their political affiliation. This is important because all young candidates are representatives of the youth - so we must support each other.

I also have a women-focused program called Girls in Politics. I set this up because traditionally when people discuss women in politics, they are predominantly referring to older women, but young ladies also deserve opportunities to be involved in governance.

VOA: How are you interacting with potential voters?

Turaki: We spent 2021 learning more about the needs of our young constituency. We used that information to form a development plan called the Legislative Empowerment and Employment Program.