Some young aspirants, who contested in the just-concluded election primaries of the two major parties, on Friday narrated their harsh experiences in their parties.
The aspirants spoke on the high prices of nomination forms, administrative charges, undemocratic party primaries and female stereotyping among other challenges as they shared their experiences and challenges in the course of seeking the parties’ tickets for the 2019 general elections.
They spoke at a programme organised by the Centre of Legislative Engagement of YIAGA AFRICA to highlight the experiences of young unsuccessful aspirants in the parties’ primaries.
The programme was held against the background of the high expectations that accompanied the passage of the Not Too Young To Run Bill by the National Assembly and the assent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The law mainly slashed the minimum ages that qualify candidates for elective offices. But the aspirants found out there are many more hurdles before young people and women aspirants in the political space.
Amina lliyasu who contested for the Zamfara State House of Assembly blamed the All Progressives Congress (APC) women leader, Hajia Salamotu, for not showing much support for women aspirants, but applauded the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari , for her support for women who ran for different offices
“I would like to call out my party women leader for not doing enough to support women’s emergence as candidates in the party primaries,” Mrs Iliyasu said.,
”I would also want to use this opportunity to thank Mrs Buhari for her support, she tweeted on the high cost of the nomination form for the women in the APC,” she said.
Mrs Iliyasu said there was zero participation of women in politics in her state, noting that the nomination forms were too expensive. She said the people of her constituency wanted her to vie for the legislative seat but leaders of the party in the state felt she was too young.
“Even though I won, I was asked to step down because of a zoning formula in the state.
“So, since the present governor is contesting for Senate position, and we are from the same constituency, I had to step down so the other zone could benefit,” Ms Iliyasu said.
Another aspirant from Kaduna under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atinuke Maria, said she thought her party’s nomination forms were free for women but she later paid N200,000.
”I am a member for PDP and there was this general notion that forms for women were free and at the same time, we were asked to pay for expression of interest which in my own constituency we paid like N200,000.
”Expression of interest was actually N100,000 but they said we were going to pay for administrative. So that was another N100,000 paid, so that made it a total of N200,000,” she said.
For their male counterparts, they said they paid 700,000 for the state House of Assembly nomination form.
Bashir Zuntu, a House of Assembly aspirant under the APC said he paid N850,000, adding that he raised the funds through the assistance of family and friends.
”For APC , for the state Assembly, the cost for nomination form was N850,000. I raised some donations from my dad and friends,” he said.
Rabi Musa, an aspirant for the Kaduna State House of Assembly under the APC, said she paid N10,000 to each delegate in the primary, adding that her husband provided the money.
”For me, the person that supported me was my husband. Well, I actually thought the forms were going to be free for female aspirants because recently, we had the local government elections in my state and female aspirants did not even pay any money, except for the expression of interest and it was just N50,000.
”But in my case I had to use all my life savings, I had to cough out N475,000 at the end of the day for the forms, both the nomination and the expression of interest forms. For female and for male, it was N850,000. Also on the election day I had to give out N10,000 to each delegate for transportation.”
Another aspirant, Mary Frank, who ran for Adamawa State House of Assembly under the PDP, said she had the challenge of stereotyping from people and family, narrating how she sourced money through her savings and friends to participate.
“The males were paying N750,000 from my state and for me, I paid N250,000. The nomination is N100,000 and the administration (charge) for the state is N100,000 and for the local government is N50,000.
”People said to me that they have a female representative from the state House of Assembly and the House of Representatives and they have not done well and why should they also vote for her?'” she said.
Sanusi Shehu, an aspirant for the Katsina State House of Assembly under the APC, said he budgeted one million naira for the primaries and came back with just N7,000, adding that his late father who was a former local government chairman during the late General Sani Abacha era helped him raise the funds.’
”I bought a state House of Assembly ticket for N750,000 for the expression of interest form and N100,000 for the nomination form and also another N100,000 for the Katsina State APC headquarters, which is N950,000; and N30,000 for APC thugs.
Abdullahi Lima, an aspirant for the Kano State House of Assembly under the APC, said, ”Luckily for me in my own case, I was the only person going from my local government area. People thought I would win because it was direct primaries so the money was not difficult to come with.”
The Coordinator, YIAGA AFRICA Centre of Legislative Engagement, Ernest Ereke, asked the aspirants a yes or no question if the elections were free and fair.
Only Ms Atinuke from Kaduna and Mary Frank from Adamawa said ”Yes” while others said ”No”.