Youth participation in Nigerian politics has been a cause for concern because there is the belief that young people possess the creative capacity to effect the required change that Nigeria needs – of course, with the guidance of the older generation; but they have consciously been left out.
With the introduction of the Not Too Young To Run Bill signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, youth have been given the opportunity – at least in some quarters – and will no longer remain in the background.
Through the Bill, more young people have come out to declare their intention to run for various offices in the country and this is the reason YNaija started the series – YNaija Politico – to give a voice to these young politicians who are candidates/aspirants running for various offices in the 2019 elections.
Akoje Kevin Eneojo is one of such young individuals who is leveraging on the Bill to do more than just watch from the background.
Read this interview with him:
Tell us a little about your background
I studied Political Science at the University of Abuja and got an MSc in Defence and Strategic Studies – Nigeria Defence Academy, Kaduna – I also have several other certifications.
I am vying for Kogi East Senatorial District. I am 35 and my political party is Alliance For New Nigeria (ANN).
What inspired your decision to run for office?
The need to ensure the aspirations of the citizenry are showcased, pursued and achieved set me on the path.
The Not Too Young To Run Bill played a great role in giving us a voice.
The conversation most prominent in Nigerian politics is ‘building structures’, how have you been able to do this in the relatively short time that you have been in politics?
We have started no doubt albeit a challenging exercise as most youth do not see themselves working in these positions devoid of a selfish desire to enrich themselves and not that of servitude to self, to the community and to hold themselves accountable to the future of our people.
Regardless of these limitations, we are still building, as few persons have still offered to serve and we are working hand in hand with them and we trust our people to see our efforts and support our candidacy to serve.
There is a general belief that ‘godfathers’ are indispensable, what is your take on this?
Sure “godfatherism” is indispensable and we just have two: The People of Nigeria (Kogi East) and the Nigerian Constitution.
Are there things you have learnt about Nigerian politics you will like to share? Both positives and negatives.
This will surely lead to me publishing an encyclopedia here because the Nigeria Story is really a handful.
By way of summary, Nigerian politics will continue to remain what we have at the moment till we as citizens devote more time to research and understand political parties, find out individuals contesting for positions and seek to understand the basic underpinnings of why they’re running for office and what they can bring to bear when they occupy office and not just sit there and wait to be spoon fed, have a campaign bus literally pass by their houses or served huge sums of monies to sway their decision in favour of a particular candidate .
If your political career was a 100-metre race, where will you say you are now?
One’s political career especially for us in the #Akoje4Senate Campaign Organisation is an eternal race or to be seen in a 360degree perspective.
Till we birth a New Nigeria that we can be proud of and for generations yet unborn we will continue to RUN.
So what are your immediate plans if you get into office?
We seek to pursue legislation in the light of our proposed SEEDS action plan where:
S– Social Infrastructure/ Security
E– Economic Empowerment
S– Sustainability as posited by the Sustainable Development Goals
See more on our campaign website www.kevinakoje.com.
Remember we are pursuing legislation for our constituency, Kogi and Nigeria as a whole.
Politicians usually bundle many unrealistic projects into their plans. And it has become a norm to impress the people who listen with ‘only words’, what exactly are the problems you see around in the grassroots that you hope to solve?
It’s very important that we all understand the roles of our political office holders.
We have the Executive and Legislative branch and they have varying functions as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
So we shall be pursuing legislation as posited by the constitution our friends at YIAGA summed it up here http://www.readytorunng.org/services/senate.html.
Do you think there are ‘forces’ that exist within and outside your constituency that might hinder your plans if you are elected?
Forces, hmm… there will always be forces even the Bible tells us not to be ignorant as such it behoves on you to develop mechanisms and alliances to ensure you remain true to your mandate to the people and the constitution of our great nation.
There are two parties in Nigeria that usually overshadow the political weight of other parties like yours. And, considering that people do not see faces but party logos on ballots, are there ways you have connected with your people in such a way that victory is guaranteed?
Connected? YES, we have, but anyone who serves you with a guarantee now begs for a review. Remember we are dealing with human beings who are ever fluid and continue to showcase different colours. So we are playing our part, selling the ideology of our party, her logo and the capacity of our candidates nationwide. So we call on you all to #FollowTheLion and let’s birth a New Nigeria together.
Do you think the Not Too Young To Run Bill is an opener for more youth participation or just another Bill that aims to whet the appetite of older politicians?
For all intents and purposes, the bill is here to stay and has gone a long way in paving the way for new persons to advance the aspirations and responsibility to the people.
So right now we are already excited about the general elections in 2023 because we are and will change the narrative of electioneering in Nigeria.
Do you see Nigerian youth participating actively in Nigerian politics in such a way that progress becomes a reality?
YES, we do not even have a choice because we are the present and the future.
We sure do need a heightened realisation though – from going to get registered to vote when 18, picking up your Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC), joining political parties, coming out to vote and even vying for office.
What if you lose the election?
WE ARE NOT IN THE RACE TO lose.
If God wills that the opposite happens, what we have in place is a movement the #Akoje4Senate movement so get ready to see us back on the ballot come the general elections in 2023.
We have had, in this series (YNaija Politico),
Olusegun Akinsehinde (read the interview here);
Atolusi Damilola (read here);
Omobolaji Ladigbolu, candidate, House of Assembly (Iseyin/Itesiwaju, Oyo) and;
Kayode Oyemakinde, aspirant, House of Assembly (Lagos).
If you are a candidate/aspirant (18-35) or know someone who is, please send a mail to [email protected]