The YIAGA Africa and the Not Too Young To Run Movement say 1,515 young candidates will run for seats in the National Assembly in the Nigerian general elections holding February 16.
The groups on Wednesday at a media briefing in Abuja released a report on the level of participation by young candidates in the elections.
The report covered candidates between the ages of 18 and 35 years who are running for all the political offices at the elections.
The YIAGA Africa programme director, Cynthia Mbamalu, said the report was based on the list of candidates published recently by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The event also had in attendance the representative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Bea Reaud; the United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UKAID), Seyi Tetteh; and the Statistician General of the National Bureau of Statistics of Nigeria (NBS), Yemi Kale, who was represented by his technical adviser, Lola Talabi-Oni.
According to the report, the INEC data showed that 51.11 per cent of the 84 million registered voters are in the 18-35 years age bracket.
The data also showed that youth candidates running for the Senate have increased to 13.5 per cent of the total number of candidates, compared to 10 per cent in 2015.
For the House of Representatives, the percentage of young candidates has gone up from 18 per cent in 2015 to 27.4 per cent in 2019.
The report said has the highest number of youth candidates are running for the National Assembly.
For governorship candidates, Ms Mbamalu said out of the 1,066 candidates presented by political parties, 104 are youth candidates. She said 41.8 per cent of this figure is between 18-35.
The YIAGA Africa programme director, Ms Mbamalu, said out of the 14,580 candidates running for State Houses of Assembly seats, 5,914 are youth.
In zonal distribution of youth candidates, the report shows that the North-East has the highest number of youth with 33.7 per cent. The South-West records the lowest number with 5.8 per cent
The report also showed that the North-East records 12.5 per cent in youth candidates contesting for state House of Assembly.
Giving an analysis of 2015 and 2019, she said the data showed a decline in youth candidates running for governorship with nine per cent in 2019, compared to 11 per cent in 2015.
For the State Houses of Assembly, the data showed an increase in youth candidacy from 25 per cent in 2015 to 41.8 per cent in 2019.
On gender distribution, young female candidates vying for governorship elections increased from three per cent in 2015 to 11 per cent in 2019.
For female youth running for state assembly elections, the data showed an increase from six per cent in 2015 to 13.9 per cent in 2019.
The analysis also showed a decline in the participation of young female candidates running for the Senate with 17 per cent in 2015 to 16 per cent in 2019, while for the House of representatives, it dwindled from 15 per cent in 2015 to 13.4 per cent in 2019.
Ms Mbamalu, however, attributed the increased participation of young candidates to the passage of the Not Too Young To Run bill to law in 2018.
”It opened up the political space for increased youth participation in the House of Representatives and Presidential elections because it reduced the age for the President from 40 to 35 years and House of Representatives from 30 to 25 years,” she said.
A board member of YIAGA AFRICA , Ezenwa Nwagwu, said, “The participation of youths in the electoral process will enable them to effectively enforce their civic rights, only when their political aspirations are firmly protected in the constitution.“
In his remarks, Mr Kale described young people as the engine room of the society today, due to their increasingly participating in every sphere of society, including in religious organisations and other forms of community leadership.
He assured YIAGA Africa of the continued support of the NBS “in promoting data analysis and evidence-based monitoring for good governance. he said
”I also look forward to a closer collaboration not only with this organization but with any other similar minded organisations, particularly in the area of data gathering, verification, and capacity building in methodology.
”A stronger data and statistical system is a benefit to us all as Nigerians and a key part of our mandate at NBS to which we are thoroughly committed.”
Ms Reaud encouraged Nigerians to go get their permanent voters card and participate in the elections.