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Monetised Politics, Barrier to Youth Participation Politics in Sokoto
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Political experts, Suleiman Balarabe, Muhammad Shehu and Murtala Umar have said political parties and monetized politics remain barriers to youth participation in Politics Sokoto.
Speaking at a one-day workshop organized by YIAGA Africa at Dakani Hotel, they said political parties and monetized politics were the major barriers hindering youth representation and meaningful participation in politics in Sokoto State.
They noted that despite having one of the youngest populations in the country, youth remain marginalised with limited participation in decision-making processes, thereby posing a threat to good governance and democracy.
They further stressed that the “challenges of youth representation, participation, and promotion in political parties in the state show that young people face multiple forms of discrimination, institutional, socio-cultural, and capacity related barriers.
According to them, among the most common hindrances are capacities and tools that deter youth representation and meaningful participation in political party activities, and lack of funds.
They explained that under institutional barriers, lack of nomination fees for candidates in elections and money for campaigns also constitute barriers to youth participation.
They further revealed that that lack of funds and resources negatively impact election campaigns of the youth, thus making campaign finance a major barrier to their candidature.
“Most youth often nurse an inferior feeling of lacking the requisite campaign funds to participate in politics as candidates. Without financial support to back up their often-insignificant political credentials, it has become nearly impossible for them to capture the attention of the electorate and win votes,” they stated.
They maintained that it was no longer about the quality of one’s ideas but rather about how well one can buy voters or use money to protect votes during elections. This culture of transactional politics that is ingrained in the nation’s electoral politics, stands out as a major barrier to participation of youth.
They said election manifestos and ideas do not matter to the people rather it is money that matters. As a consequence, the relationship between elected leaders and the electorate has become transactional.
“The ballot has been commoditized with citizens/electorates selling their votes as if they are selling groceries, food, or meat in the market. In some electoral contests, vote-buying turns into an auction in which voters sell their votes to the highest bidder,” they added.
The said, “It has therefore become apparent that access to campaign finance is a key determinant of electoral outcomes in the country. In this regard, the chances for youth to successfully run for elective office largely depend on their ability to access campaign money.
“The commercialized nature of politics in the state is one of the major roadblocks to achieving meaningful political participation and representation of youth. And because money is an essential and unavoidable part of modern-day elections, it has progressively become too expensive for young politicians to afford.
“It is the nuanced understanding of secrets known that when money dominates politics, youth are disproportionately affected and often end up losing out, especially where electoral politics is highly commercialized..”
They however contended that until campaign finance is regulated to level the electoral playing field to allow electoral players to fairly compete, meaningful participation of youth in electoral politics shall remain a challenge.
They said to curb this menace there should be critical reforms to strengthen INEC regulatory functions and to amend parties constitutions to ease youth participation in all areas of party activities.