2019: How major parties edged out young aspirants – Group

File photo of the #NotTooYoungToRun protesters shutting down the National Assembly gate
File photo of the #NotTooYoungToRun protesters shutting down the National Assembly gate

The Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement on Monday alleged that the undemocratic nature of political party primaries conducted ahead of the 2019 elections had robbed most youth of the opportunity to contest for tickets.

The group also denounced the monetisation of the primaries, describing it as shameful.

Election observers and media outfits who monitored the primaries of the major parties reported how vote buying, violence and other irregularities marred the process.

One of the conveners of the group, Hamzat Lawal, while addressing reporters in Abuja, said most of the primaries did not meet up with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) guidelines.

Mr Lawal said the group working with the “Ready-To-Run” young aspirants remained in close contact with the young aspirants to provide support as they ran for office and document their experiences.

According to him, the movement first observed with disappointment the high cost of nominations fees imposed by some political parties, especially the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“Party primaries are supposed to be a model for democratic elections in Nigeria influencing elections in such a way that the demand for credible and transparent elections will be driven by the political parties

“The trend of undemocratic primaries is therefore worrisome as more parties brazenly flaunt the guidelines on the conduct of primaries designed to ensure transparency and fairness.

“Some of these include imposition of candidates and manipulating the process of the conduct of the primaries.

“The decision by some party leaders to impose candidates on the party, exclude other aspirants from contesting or substituting candidates who successfully won the primary election is most undemocratic.’’

Mr Lawal said that this was a grave injustice to the electorate, “whose choice of leaders would be limited to individuals who fraudulently emerged as the partys’ candidates.”

Cynthia Mbamalu, a member of the group, said that reports from the young aspirants indicated that most of them after winning majority of votes during the primaries were substituted with other aspirants who scored less number of the votes cast.

Ms Mbamalu said that some of the political party primaries at states level were hijacked by the party leadership to ensure that popular aspirants were rigged out of the primaries especially for young female aspirants.

She said this was done by either disrupting the conduct of the primaries where an aspirant was seen to be winning votes or denying the delegates or changing list of delegates to put an aspirant at a disadvantage.

She said some young aspirants and women also experienced situations where parties directly and indirectly restricting their participation, refusing them party nomination forms or omitting their names.

“It is rather worrisome that some of the parties still operate state structures where the party leadership, some few money bags or some governors take undemocratic decision regardless of the wishes of the party members,” Ms Mbamalu said.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim Farouk, a member of the movement, said the group worked with young aspirants and “this provided them with insight into the conduct of party primaries”.

Mr Fraouk said the movement, therefore, demanded that INEC made public the report from the monitoring of the party primaries clearly highlighting the votes of each aspirant from the primaries.

(NAN)


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