Abuja, Nigeria. August 14th, 2018 – 12th August every year is the date set aside by the United Nations to commemorate the International Youth Day (IYD), in order to create awareness and advocate the cause of young people all over the world. The commemoration of the day is to draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding the youth population. It is intended as an opportunity for governments and other institutions to draw attention to youth issues worldwide. The theme for the 2018 International Youth Day is “Safe Spaces for Youth”. Youth need safe spaces where they can come together, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves. Safe spaces such as civic spaces enable youth to engage in governance issues. The United Nation Secretary-General, António Guterres, while speaking in an event stated that the hopes of the world rest on young people. He further specified that peace, economic dynamism, social justice, tolerance — all this and more, today and tomorrow, depends on tapping into the power of youth.
In commemorating the 2018 International Youth Day, NOIPolls presents a throwback from previous public opinion poll which gauged the perception of Nigerians on the age preference for the 2019 presidential candidate. Spurred by several discussions in the social space, particularly the #NotTooYoungToRun Campaign led by the youth advocacy organisation YIAGA, the poll revealed that Nigerians would prefer middle-aged presidential candidates, between the ages of 40 – 60 years mainly because they are perceived to combine youthful energy, experience and maturity. Interestingly, this finding is consistent with the campaign of civil society organizations on government to place emphasis on youth inclusiveness, in order to ensure a vibrant future for all. With over 60 percent of Nigeria’s population as youth, it is important that young people have access to education, skills and opportunities to enable them contribute to nation building. While commemorating this year’s IYD, the National Treasurer of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Mr Uko Michael, an umbrella body of Nigerian youth organisations, stated that it is an indisputable fact of history that Nigerian youths contributed immensely to the struggle and campaign for political independence and restoration of democracy.
The chart below revealed that 48 percent of Nigerians polled indicated that they would prefer middle-aged presidential candidates. This was followed by 35 percent of the respondents who expressed their preference to see young Nigerians emerging as candidates in 2019; and as expected, respondents aged between 18 – 35 years accounted for the largest proportion (37 percent) in this category.
Similarly, in terms of age preference for the 2019 presidential candidates the poll revealed that a significant majority of Nigerians (64 percent) would prefer candidates between the ages of 40 – 50 years; forllowed by 10 percent who prefer candidates between 50 and 60 years old. In order words, almost 8 in 10 respondents (79 percent) would prefer presidential candidates between the ages of 40 and 60 years.
Global explosion in knowledge and social consciousness have enhanced the capacity of Nigerian youths. However, their ability to utilize these resources effectively to drive national transformation would depend on the leadership opportunities available to them. The chart below revealed that although a vast majority of Nigerians say they would support young to middle-aged pesidential candidates in 2019, there are still some key hinderances preventing younger politicians and professionals from vying for elective public offices. Top amongst the factors mentioned include: financial constraints (40 percent), godfatherism and political cabal (23 percent), lack of experience (15 percent) and lack of political platforms (10 percent) amongst other factors.
In conclusion, the poll revealed that most Nigerians prefer young (35 percent) to middle-aged (48 percent) presidential candidates in the 2019 presidential elections. However, the reality has been that young Nigerians are often excluded or overlooked as political candidates. Politics is typically regarded as a space for politically experienced men, hence young people are systematically marginalized because of their age, fierce competition for limited positions, and projected lack of experience. According to an independent research by the British Council, by 2030; “Youth not oil, will be Nigeria’s greatest asset”. However, the way Nigeria regards the youth and their place in the leadership of this nation is fundamental to youth inclusion and political representation. Lastly, it is pertinent that young Nigerians volunteer and vye for various political and non-political roles so as to contribute meaningfully to national development.
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NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.